Wednesday, February 11, 2009

groceries are killing me

In order to do some damage control, I've limited grocery shopping to once a week. This cuts down on the opportunity for impulse buys, and makes me plan a week's worth of meals and use everything up before buying more. The downside of this is that it forces me to reckon with what we spend on groceries. If you shop a few times a week, you can spend fifty dollars here and seventy five there and you don't realize that you spend SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS a month on groceries for your family of three. Of course, some of that goes to medicine, dog food, dish detergent, toothpaste, etc., all of which I lump together under "groceries." But still. Seven hundred bucks. That is ugly.

We hardly buy any processed food; Cheerios are pretty much the only exception. Everything else I make from scratch: bread, muffins, snacks, and of course dinner. We also hardly eat any meat--our protein is generally eggs, lentils, or grains. I only buy organic milk, so that adds a few dollars to the bill each week; so do fruits and vegetables (they're expensive even when I don't buy organic). I try to buy organic but when the price differential is huge I buy conventional without remorse. The only luxuries in our diet are cheese (probably about $10 a week) and walnuts (about $5 a week), as well as dog food (maybe $25 a month). We don't buy alcohol, soda, or juice (with exceptions for when we have people over). I buy generic (target brand) when it's an option.

I really don't see a lot of room for cutting back. I'm not going to trade in the fruits and vegetables for doritos and burger king, not that I think that would really save a lot of money anyway. I wonder whether we spend much more than the average American family, and whether I'm just so spoiled that I don't recognize some of my purchases as splurges.

1 comment:

Jennylou's Projects said...

We're a family of four, and including our toiletry, paper products, cat food, cleaning products, etc - we spend $350 a month on "groceries". Here's the chart on what the USDA considers to be different levels based upon family sizes.

We're beneath the thrifty plan, especially when you take into account all the items that truly aren't groceries. We buy very little processed foods - we stick to the outside and hit the cheerios (like yourself) or some other cereal (depends what is on sale/have a coupon for, that is low sugar/low fat) and the pasta aisle, as well as the bagged bean aisle. Oh, and the frozen aisle - we end up eating a lot of frozen veggies (especially in winter) and we grow many of our own in the summer (what we don't grow, we try to buy locally at farmer's stands).

We went to cash ONLY at the grocery store for all of those items. Put it in an envelope and when it's out, it's out - so I try to get creative on what we buy. I also try to make all our own treats (cookies, cakes, etc) from scratch and like to bake bread too.