It’s January – time to analyze a year of grocery spending! This is the 8th annual 🙂
For new readers, we are 2 adults who eat vegetarian food at home, make our own meals, and eat out about once a week. We’ve had the same grocery budget of $500/month since 2012. We include the costs of meal foods, snacks, cleaning products, paper goods and personal care items in the budget, but not pet expenses, dining out or café trips. This year we were away on vacation for 4 weeks, and during that time, all food was included in our travel budget. So, the grocery budget only had to cover 48 weeks.
For 2019, we decided to buy groceries once a week at our nearest supermarket. Rom used to like shopping at Walmart and buying groceries there. However, (a) it’s 15 km each way, (b) they have no rewards program and (c) their labour practices are poor. I realize not everyone can refuse to shop there, because of economics or availability. Our local place costs more on average, but with our cash-back card and their rewards program, we saved $400 over the course of the year, plus the cost of gas we would have spent to drive elsewhere.
We still have a Costco membership, shop a few sales, and try to get to the farmers’ market.
For a long time, we shopped for groceries on Sunday evenings for the week ahead, but now we’ve switched to a quiet hour on Saturdays. It feels luxurious to do nothing on Sunday nights now!
Prepared foods include meal foods like pizzas, falafels, hummus, and taco kits ($347); hot and cold drinks ($494); and snacks, desserts and candy ($603). Of the drinks, it was mostly coffee beans, but a bottle of Seedlip slipped in! I can live with $50/month on snacks, especially since it included birthday cakes, Easter treats to share, etc.
Here is our average monthly spend over the past 5 years:
- 2019 503 477 after rewards – and managed to pay for cat food and litter within the budget
- 2018 531 521 after rewards
- 2017 538 –
- 2016 523 –
- 2015 439 –
If 2015 looks suspicious – that’s the year Rom took over the grocery shopping, and he was hardcore frugal! I am not keen to return to that level of austerity.
Despite the belt-tightening month in which we saved money for the Food Bank, it turned out to be a typical year. We bought similar amounts of food to last year.
More of: peppers, carrots, onions, mushrooms, radishes, clementines, kiwi fruit, mangoes and canned fruit
The same amounts of: zucchini, corn, green beans, edamame, strawberries, yogurt, cheese and frozen pizzas
Less or fewer of: potatoes, frozen vegetable mixes, canned vegetable soups, apples, grapes and avocados
I stopped buying dried papaya, pineapple and cranberries; gave up protein bars; and started making my own ice pops instead of buying juice freezies. Rom stopped buying rice cakes and went back to crumpets! He unexpectedly developed a taste for pasta which he didn’t care for in the past. I made one new recipe – black bean burgers – very convenient since they freeze well. We tried frying plantains but found them really hard to peel and work with (they were supposedly ripe?)
Our Personal Care line included first aid supplies and over-the-counter meds for our trip to Cuba, and of course we didn’t use any of them. Next time I’ll leave them at the resort for the staff. (Not that we have another trip planned – just wishful thinking!)
When I reviewed my grocery receipts, I had to laugh over what was taxed and what wasn’t. For example, Goldfish and Cheese Nips are crackers and not taxed, but pretzels are! Amusingly, the criteria for tax include whether the product is a “chip, crisp, puff, curl or stick” and not just whether it is a salty snack.
As far as dining out goes, I had a normal year: 5 special occasions, 12 family occasions, 12 work lunches, and 18 meals out “just because.” Total cost was $2093 – which is 37% of what we spent on groceries. However, it is a separate budget, we didn’t overspend it, and we got a lot of enjoyment from the meals.
I have two not-so-lofty food goals this year. One is to make some of my own salad dressings. I used to take salads to work 4 days a week, but I have given up trying to be creative on Fridays so now I have them 5 days a week. I like not having to think about what to bring. And I make them different from day to day and week to week. I have made 2 salad dressings before, and I have some new recipes to try.
The other food goal is to make some meals with things wrapped in puff pastry, like Thrift Deluxe @ ninetofive-ish whose meals always look so good!
How would you describe your 2019 year in food?