Last year I looked at how much food I bought with my grocery dollars. I was keen to do it again this year and compare.
In 2012 I spent $5784 on all food coming into the house, plus paper goods. For 2013, the total was $5213. So the costs were 10% less, but what about the food?
It actually looks bad in print:
- 31% less fruit
- 20% less milk
- 27% less cheese
- 20% less grains, beans, lentils and pasta
- More than twice as much bread
- Twice as many desserts
The only unchanged areas were vegetables and packaged breakfast cereal.
Why would I buy so much less of the good stuff? First of all, 18 months into being vegetarian, we are no longer trying to pack in protein from dairy products. We still use a moderate amount, but we no longer really drink milk or eat hard cheese – we use milk (or soy milk) for coffee and cereal, and cheese in recipes. I used a lot of milk last year when I made yogurt regularly, but I’ve slowed down on that.
There is a good reason why I didn’t buy as much fruit. The fruit available, both at grocery stores and markets, was not up to par, in my opinion. I kept ending up with mealy apples and dry oranges and peaches that wouldn’t finish ripening, and so on. Maybe it’s just me, but it seemed like a bad year. Despite the poor growing conditions, the local strawberries were great, though!
As for all the pantry staples like rice, barley, pasta, beans and lentils: we still use them all, but a steady amount of each over the course of the year. The grocery budget doesn’t show much of a blip whether I buy a little more or less rice or macaroni. They all make up a tiny percentage of the grocery bill. I bought one bag of dried chick peas this year (about 12 oz) and cooked them up. I put the cooked chick peas in the freezer and they lasted me all year. Not bad for $3.50!
The bread is easy to explain – I stopped baking it and started buying it. It used to take me half a day each week to bake bread, and while I enjoyed it, I found it kept me too tied to the kitchen. I tried out a bread maker which I bought at a yard sale, and wasn’t thrilled with it. I do miss hearty home made bread, and the cost savings, too. It probably costs 90% less to make it! For that kind of savings, maybe I could move my blogging to the kitchen while the dough rises 🙂
Rom’s consumption of crumpets suspiciously doubled this year while we bought just as much cereal for breakfast…
Now for desserts. That is all down to one thing. Rom has always enjoyed ice cream, and myself, rarely. Last year I had ice cream often in the summer. This year both of us have continued eating it year-round! Rom is not much of a sweets eater at all, but now I have picked up his ice cream habit while continuing to eat candy, too.
Another factor affecting the food coming into the house is…tracking. Two years ago I was watching my weight, being conscientious about what I ate and how much. I maintained my weight the first year with careful tracking, and last year, I managed to do the same without tracking (Say What?!) Numbers don’t lie, though – this exercise shows I may have maintained my weight, but nutrition took a hit. I really don’t want to be one of the vegetarians that skips meals and fills up on pop and chips!
One thing I should admit is that when we make a one-pot meal, which is most of the time, there is not a lot of variety in taste and texture. Every spoonful of soup or stew or chili is alike. Maybe that leads to food cravings and snacking later. I have tried to control them a little bit, though! After my mid-year tally revealed I was eating far more candy than I thought I was, I switched to hard candy only, which meant I had fewer candies and not much chocolate (well, until mid-December, anyway!)
For 2014 I hope to buy lots of fruit again, and not slack off on vegetables, and bake bread at least occasionally, and bake some of my own muffins and snacks, and get a handle on my new ice cream habit, and continue to enjoy coffee, and, er, keep exercising regularly so the candy can stay 🙂
Things We Bought the Most of: Apples, Tomatoes, Canned Tomatoes, Peppers, Canned Baked Beans, Soy Milk, Whole Wheat Bread, Rye Bread, Crumpets, Breakfast Cereal, Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt
What are your grocery culprits?