I had decided not to blog about my grocery shopping for 2020 because it was too embarrassing. But in the interest of full transparency, I bring you my true report for the year. You can judge me all you like: and you will, after reading about my food follies!
I’ll get the key finding out of the way immediately. In 2019, we spent $6235 on groceries for 2 mostly vegetarian adults who prepare our meals at home. This is a corrected version of what I posted at the time. We also spent $2093 on meals out.
In 2020, we spent $9549 on groceries ($796/month) and another $2489 on meals out. So, there you go!
Since we spent 53% more on groceries, what happened?
- Spent 2 weeks with Link in Toronto in January; paid for groceries at home (for Rom) and at Link’s place
- Global pandemic, 11-week lockdown (March 16 -June 5), 2-week quarantine (December), working primarily from home since March
- Link lived at home with us for 4-1/2 months (3rd adult in the house)
- Link is an unabashed carnivore
- No entertainment was available except take-out food
- Shopped at one nearby supermarket and didn’t comparison-shop or go to Costco
There were some positives:
- Meal-planned every week and didn’t waste food
- Only one grocery shopper per household was allowed in the store; Rom took over and he spends less on food than I do
- Supported local restaurants by ordering take-out food once a week
- Saved 100% of our travel budget; underspent on clothing and haircuts
- Gave more to charity
I was curious about whether we had experienced much Covid price-gouging, whether the cost of food had gone up generally, and how much our eating habits had changed.
I took a look at items and categories where we spent noticeably more. First, we spent $90 more on fruit; I would say for the same amount. More grapes and clementines; fewer apples because the cost went up. Avocadoes went up so much we stopped buying them. In the vegetables category, we bought 3x as much broccoli (a delight), more potatoes, and fewer peppers. I mentioned in another post that I have stopped trying to be creative about lunch and I just have a fresh home-made salad every day. Rom has continued on his pasta kick so we bought lots of cans/jars of sauce. I stopped cooking dried beans so we bought canned. I cooked my way through the Plants Only Kitchen cookbook (Gaz Oakley) which required a lot of fresh and fancy ingredients – it was fun.
Last winter I experimented with dairy alternatives but I didn’t get very far. I don’t mind oat milk for cereal or lattes. However, it is more expensive than dairy milk. I couldn’t find any non-dairy yogurts I liked, so I just stopped eating yogurt. Despite consuming 50% less yogurt and 25% less cheese, our “dairy and alternatives” bill increased by 10%, as a result of higher non-dairy prices and inflation. We have also been cooking with tofu regularly.
The “elephant in the room,” of course, is meat and fish. We have not banned it in the house but Link cooks their own, and cleans up. Link will have our vegetarian meals once on the day they’re cooked, but rather than having leftovers, will cook meat-based meals and create their own leftovers. We are getting used to this system and it’s working OK. Link likes two kinds of packaged foods – frozen French fries and spring rolls. My favourite convenience food is frozen pizzas, but they weren’t on sale very often, so we bought only half as many this year. I made (assembled?) more semi-homemade pizzas on store-bought crusts or flatbreads.
Link does a lot of baking which has its own costs, but reduces the amount of snack foods we buy. Except for chips; we seem to have developed a fondness for them over the course of the year!
I am sure you’re wondering if we stocked up on toilet paper – we only bought one extra package!
In addition to local take-out food, I am slowly drinking my way through the range of Nova Scotia Tidal Bay wines, but since my drinking rate is pathetically slow, it will take a while 😊
As a result of spending more, I also earned more Air Miles and credit card rewards, which did help.
I’m going to be honest and say I’m not really looking for advice to save money. Last year was what it was! The Covid situation is very calm where I live; stores and restaurants are open. I may comparison shop a little more; I would like to start cooking beans again; buying fresh fruit and vegetables is money well-spent. So, onward to 2021!
My favourite purchase of the year was in May, after 8 weeks of lockdown. Some seasonal “pink grapes” (Muscat grapes) became available, and no one else at home particularly liked them. I thought they were heaven.
How would you describe your 2020 year in food?