It’s the end of the month and the end of the grocery report experiment. I set a goal of trimming our grocery/household expenses by $90 a month. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to do it or if I would need to adjust up moving forward. I am happy to say that not only did we do it, we came in UNDER the tighter budget!
First, let’s discuss the last week’s shop/meals.
I spent $48.80 of my weekly $57.50. It would have been a few dollars higher than this, but one of the items on my list was out of stock.
$48.80 spent, $8.70 leftover
$0.75 1 red onion
$1.10 5 bananas
$2.24 3 zucchinis
$0.77 6 roma tomatoes
$2.00 Oscar Mayer thick sliced bologna
$1.22 Cacique pork chorizo
$3.58 Great Value hickory smoked bacon, 16 oz.
$2.76 Mission burrito flour tortillas 8 ct.
$2.68 Sara Lee artesano bakery bread 1 loaf
$2.44 Great Value fat free milk 1 gallon
$2.87 bag of Hass avocados 4-6 count
$2.46 Great Value old fashioned oats 42 oz.
$1.48 Great value dry pinto beans 32 oz.
$2.28 4 bottles Clear American Seltzer (Apple, Peach)
$3.34 Sabra supremely spicy hummus 10 oz.
$1.74 Great value cantina tortilla chips
$3.98 Spicy Nacho Doritos Party Size bag
$3.47 Little Debbie oatmeal pies big pack 32. oz
$1.57 Great Value garlic texas toast 8 ct.
$3.00 Hostess Apple Fruit Pie (3)
$2.98 Great Value sweet cream salted butter 4 ct.
No household items purchased this week
For the month, I spent $223.26 on groceries and household items with $26.75 leftover.
We ate spaghetti for four days, had shrimp tacos one night, and ended up ordering pizza over the weekend.
These are my takeaways from the first month of this experiment:
I previously thought we were operating on a pretty tight grocery budget (especially compared to what you see a lot of other people spending). But, as it turns out, YES- we can cut it down more without a huge change in quality
Planning for one week at a time is much easier than planning for 10 days or two weeks at a time. It’s also easier to focus and cut down on wasting food. I transitioned from buying bags of onions to switching off on the types we buy because they were going bad. It’s usually cheaper per unit to buy a larger quantity of something but overall not worth it if those items go bad or if it causes you to go over your allotment. In some cases, it makes more sense to pay more per item and get less items (to spend less overall) so that you can use those things efficiently or afford them that week.
$57.50 is not a ton of money. In fact, you’d be lucky to get lunch at a sushi place for two people and come in under $57.50 once you tip. By choosing the store brand, we were able to stretch this amount and found some new favorites. It’s worth trying the store brand/cheaper version at least once before you dismiss it. I learned that I actually like the Walmart brand tortilla chips and am happy to buy them on purpose moving forward rather than just for a money experiment.
On the other hand, I also learned that taste/quality is too different (i.e. lacking) in the store brand of some items. I tried the Walmart brand coffee this month instead of the store brand I typically by at our warehouse club. I bought a large can for $5 at Walmart as opposed to a large bag at Bj’s for $9- $12 (depending on whether I have a coupon or not). I have learned the difference in taste is not worth the $5 savings here.
Though it’s disappointing to be underwhelmed by a store brand product, at the end of the day – I’ll survive. It’s certainly worth the experiment for the times when you are pleasantly surprised and can carry those savings into future grocery trips.
Another mention from this month’s experiment is that I didn’t buy any meat really, aside from one bag of shrimp. I did buy lunch meat and chorizo, but overall, I know that buying a bag of chicken/fish/beef every week can increase the grocery bill substantially. In order to decrease your grocery bill, you can definitely opt to go meatless. We didn’t really have to because we already had a freezer full of meat, but I think it could be a good way to start this experiment if you don’t have a stockpile.
For the regular months when I am buying meat on regular grocery shops, I try to choose 1-2 meatless options per week and usually supplement with beans in place of meat to keep the shop amount reasonable.
Some weeks, I had to choose a smaller quantity and choose this vs. that in some cases to stay within the week’s parameters. I’ve learned that while I would normally buy two of certain things or get two kinds of sweets, it’s okay to buy one for now in order to make this week work. We didn’t go without, so I am training my brain to see this process as a choice rather than deprivation.
For my household, that $26.74 will be transferred into a separate holding account and if I find that I can’t fit all of our food/household needs into the next month’s limitations, I’ll have that to pull from. I could also use it to fill up our freezer as I see items on sale.
I personally believe that money saved on groceries should be set aside and go towards future stock up trips, fancy food splurges, etc. particularly if you are also aggressively trying to pay down debt or be very strict in other areas of your life. While many would disagree and opt to send that $26.74 to an extra credit card payment, I firmly believe that having enough of/the kinds of foods that you love to eat leads to feelings of contentment. For me, having enough food in the house equals abundance.