Food prices are soaring and I'm seeing lots of funny memes about taking loans to buy a single cauliflower. The Canadian dollar has been tanking and everyone is starting to worry about how they are going to save money at the grocery store. I kid you not, I'm starting to slightly panic over my grocery bill while trying to hold on to every weak Canadian dollar I have.
For the past few years I always just guessed what I spent each week on groceries. I got so frustrated on guesstimating an amount for that I started tracking how much I spent each week. I tried to stick to about $100 a week for food and $25 a week for house products like toilet paper, tissue boxes, cleaning products etc. I just made up this number but never actually set it aside in an actual fund. This amount included everything bought for food, home and even mini mid-week trips to reload on fresh meat and produce. Basically, everything we bought at No Frills, Walmart, Costco, Chinatown, and Kensington market grocery stores. I have to admit I wasn't as dedicated throughout the year and did my best to take out things like gift items and clothing that would have been included in our receipts but overall I felt like it was a really true and reliable source of info. I'm super dedicated to being totally on top of this this year! Finger's crossed! Any hoo, I created an excel sheet and divided the columns by date (usually Monday's is shopping day), amount spent (on receipt) and my half I personally spent. Sometimes, one person's half was higher if it included something's like clothes, or special junk foods, or just picking up items on behalf of our parents.
At first, I was surprised to see how many weeks (7 to be exact), we went without buying any groceries at all. This was usually due to birthday weeks, vacations, Christmas or other holiday times where we'd have to eat out several meals with different family members. And even the end of the year where I would redeemed all my PC points for the holidays, so we could host some family and friends over the Christmas break for FREE :) I LOVE free groceries! As you know, what you aren't spending on groceries is what you are paying way more for at a restaurant. I did start tracking our eating out at restaurants as well but I just got lazy and sort of stopped half way through the year. Something to learn from and strive to keep up this year!
The Hard Numbers
My total spent on Groceries in 2015: $2712.19
My weekly total average: $52.16
I was in complete shocked at how low this amount was overall. Our weekly receipts varied so much!!! The lowest weekly amount I had was $6 and the highest was over $430! As you can see, my $100 a week seemed a pretty reasonable guess at the time. And I hate to admit this but there is quite a bit of waste at the end of the week in fresh produce and meat. I always bring lunch to eat at work, which is usually dinner left overs to try and cut back on the waste. I probably eat out once or twice a year during lunch with co-workers or we'll have a work party where everyone chips in for pizza or sushi at the office. I've been pretty good trying to freeze browned organic bananas to be made into banana bread or freezing meats for use on another day. I kind of suck at freezing stuff cause sometimes I'm forget what's up there or bitch at myself on why I didn't properly take the time to portion it out for easier use. Try separating a pack of 6 chicken breast stuck in a big chunk, when you only wanted to eat 2! The horror! Hahaha!
Right off the bat, I've decided to generally buy less food, particularly junk food. Not NOT buy it, just buy it less! (I really really love my junk food :S) I really don't think I need to eat as much as I do and if I do it's usually out of boredom. My sort of logic is, if I have less to choose from I will ideally eat less. If I have less food, I would ultimately waste less. I'll update you guys and see how that goes!
I'm also going to go back to more hard core couponing and being more on top of the price matching. I'm going to create a list of each No Frills and who they price match. I've been kind of laxed on the coupon front and always forgetting them at home. We started buying quality over quantity and usually there are no coupons on the products we want to buy. But, I've committed to a high contribution this year for my retirement savings and I have every intention on keeping it up this year.
I even rejigged my budget and gave myself a more realistic expense of $75 a week, total for food and home. It's hard starting a new fund from zero and I found myself almost $5 short the last two weeks. This was from a large Costco trip we had at the beginning of the year to stock up on snacks and stuff to save us money overall instead of buying snacks at the convenience store. I also see our food fund going up slightly from last years amount since we committed to eat at home more WAY MORE often. To keep me motivated I've started an "Eating Outside" tax. Essentially, whatever I spent eating at a restaurant, take out, or snacks (coffee, cookies or whatever) the same amount must be put away into a fund. My plan is for it to show me exactly to the dollar how much I spent eating outside of the home this year. So far, I'm happy to say I've only had two trips to a restaurant this year and I've been very mindful how much is spent. I'm optimistic this will be as good for my health as it will be for my wallet!
What are you doing to try and save money on your groceries?
Eros and Pookie