Now May here is what I’m talking about! What a difference from the last few months. Too bad in this unscientific research I can’t quite pinpoint the most contributing factor as to why are grocery total for the month was so much lower, but there are a few very clear contributors.
But first, let’s take a look at the numbers and distribution for the month. As a reminder from the January post, this counts for food and drinks only (no household needs), does not factor in eating out though we typically only do so about once a week, and we don’t subscribe to any particular diet though I do typically focus on whole foods and choose organic when available.
- Costco: $475.20
- Publix: $227.67
- Food Lion: $143.18
- Lowe’s Foods: $49.22
- Sprouts: $46.26
- GRAND TOTAL: $941.53
It’s the first month of the year I kept our total under $1000. There were several things I noticed through the month that were contributing factors.
We bought a half cow in April so our deep freezer is stocked with hundred of pounds of meat. While I try not to have us eat red meat everyday of the week, I can’t deny the convenience of having quality animal protein ready to go and already paid for. When we had friends over, we already had pre-formed burgers ready to grab and grill- no store trip needed.
I visited the grocery store more often, making the traditionally more price savvy stores that are closer to where I live easiest to access, and therefore I shopped more often at those. That’s why there is no Whole Foods on this list, because it is furthest from me. While I know I can shop Whole Foods in a budget-friendly way and I do appreciate their quality, I can’t deny that I spend a little more when I visit because I get starry eyed at all the fun extra options if I’m not really careful.
The biggest thing I did in May that felt like it made a sincere difference is that I didn’t meal plan. At least not in the way I usually do, planning out a week’s worth of dinner recipes at a time. I knew our schedule was a bit insane so I decided to wing it- take note of what I had, grab some produce, and figure out how to use it all up before heading back to the store.
While traditionally I would tell you this would lead to more spending without a plan, it actually led to less money spent on groceries. However, as a caveat, it also led to more simple and quick meals. For example we had tortilla wraps several nights where I just pulled out everything from the fridge and you could choose what to wrap up. We had several spaghetti and meatball nights. We had broccoli multiple times in a week instead of switching up the dinner veggie because I bought the Costco-sized bag. We had some nights where I made popcorn and we snacked on whatever was around (mostly when David was out of town because he does better with a heartier meal).
This worked really well for May when we were wrapping up some activities, trying out for others, and just out of the house more than usual. However, I missed having more varied meals, as it’s something I enjoy making (usually) for my family. Still, there are some undeniable tips I can continue to follow moving forward:
- Check the sales flyer at local stores- I still only buy things I usually would; I don’t buy stuff just because it’s on sale but it’s nice to be notified on good deals for pantry staples or favorite produce).
- Get Costco produce- we eat so much of it and it’s the best bang for my buck at the moment.
- Balance out my meal plans between meals that are fun and different to cook, with quick and easy meals that use fridge and pantry items. We usually do an “eat the fridge” night each week anyway, so maybe adding in another night or two of more simple meals. Maybe BLTs with summer tomatoes?!
- Relax a little bit on my high health standards. This one is really hard for me. I feel like when I know what is the better choice for health, I can’t not do it. However, in my current stage of life right now I’m feeding four mouths, including two very hungry kids (swim team is kicking their hunger up to a new level), that are busy and on the go and I need to cut myself some slack that I’m doing the best I can and that adding a bag of Chex Mix to our boat snack spread won’t kill them.
Ok, that wraps up May! Onto June, which will be interesting as well since we’ll be traveling a lot of it but otherwise will be less busy activity-wise. Plus I want the girls to have some fun in the kitchen so I’ll be buying items to let them cook things they’re interested in. I look forward to totaling our 6 months and averaging them at the end of the month to get a more clear picture of our monthly average. I’m still enjoying this challenge so much!