Annual Grocery Tally for 2022

Photo: blende12@pixabay

Our household is three adults – two vegetarians and one (decidedly) not. Our family indulged heavily in grocery spending over the past two years, to compensate for not going out. We ate well, but we’ve also stretched our food dollars. We stopped our 2020 weekly takeout habit in 2021, we bring homemade lunches to work and school every day, and we cook our dinners at home.

Last January, we bought a freezer, allowing us to stock up on deals. Next, Link started batch cooking on the weekends. They began cooking on-sale roasts, chicken thighs, etc.  and using them for sandwiches and stir fries throughout the week. I bring salads to work most days so I can use up what I bought that week, and not fuss too much about variety. Nevertheless, I was stopped in my tracks a few weeks ago when a co-worker saw my salad and joked, “That’s $40 right there!”

I know how much we spend on groceries by category, so I had to find out what my salads really cost! We spent $1475.81 for vegetables last year, or $28.38 a week. That includes all fresh, frozen and canned vegetables, but not freebies (such as cucumbers and zucchini that home gardeners gave us). It doesn’t include condiments and sides like ketchup and pickles. $28.38 provides vegetables at lunch and dinner for all three of us for seven days, so it’s $9.46 per person per week.

We each have 1-2 servings of vegetables for lunch and 3-4 for dinner. Estimating 1.5 and 3.5, that’s 5 servings a day, or 35 a week, for each of us.

Dividing the $9.46 by 35 servings, that’s 27 cents CDN per serving.

My salads are 1 cup raw veg and 2 cups greens (2 servings total) so actually only 54 cents. Being cheap, I sometimes add peeled broccoli stalks and skip buying lettuce when it costs too much (more than $4/week) 😊

Then I add salad dressing (34 cents) and nuts (56 cents) and accompany the salad with crackers (38 cents) and fancy cheese (80 cents). Total for meal is $2.62. Not dirt cheap. But nutritious, luxurious, and I never get tired of it. Again, I do substitutions. For example, if I use pumpkin seeds instead of nuts some days, that is 8 cents instead of 56! And generic cheddar rather than my favourite posh cheese is 28 cents less.

To round out my workday meals, I typically have cereal and milk for first breakfast, a bagel with peanut butter when I get to work, yogurt with frozen berries in the afternoon, and two or three pieces of fruit. For dinner we have vegetarian stews, curries and stir-fries with lots of vegetables, beans, lentils and/or tofu. Some of our recipes include milk, cheese or eggs.

Long-time readers know I love sweets, but I have a plan afoot and I’ll update you on that in a few weeks.

The Details

*In 2021, we spent $10,903 on groceries or $303 per person per month.

*In 2022, we spent $11,340 on groceries or $315 per person per month, an increase of 4%.

These totals include EVERYTHING we bought (such as cleaning supplies, paper goods and personal care items) but not pet supplies.

Our spending in each category was remarkably similar both years. I wondered: since we spent so close to the same amounts, did we get less food for the money? Or did we change our habits and buy cheaper items?

As an example, we spent $136 more on dairy products in 2022. This proved to be the result of buying 40% less cheese, but more soy milk and yogurt.

The differences were greater for fruit and vegetables. We spent $175 more for fruit this year. Several reasons:

In 2021, the apples available were not good (bad crop, I guess), so I bought a lot less. This year they are better apples and the price actually declined, on average. For apples, bananas and grapes, we paid more in total than the year before, but we received more kg of fruit.

I buy oranges year-round. This year they averaged $3.86/kg. Yet I hesitate to buy peaches or pears in season because they seem expensive. Actual price? $3.88/kg.

The biggest price increase in our “fruit basket” was for California raisins at Costco. We substituted cheaper Thompson and sultana raisins last year, but this year we decided the premium raisins are worth it. You might think, how many raisins can one actually eat? I assure you, it is a lot. Rom has an ounce of them with cereal or oatmeal every day.

Meanwhile we spent $145 less on vegetables this year.

Rom was a bit obsessed with celery the previous year but it wore off and he only had half as much in 2022. He switched from cherry tomatoes as snacks, to regular-size slices of tomatoes with lunch. We bought more local romaine lettuce and less imported greens like Spring Mix. I’ve switched from red radishes to daikon in my salads which is a fraction of the price. We haven’t bought tinned soup for a few years now and others must not be buying it either, because the selection in the store is down by half. I stopped making green chili because imported or tinned green chilies, tomatillos and salsa verde add up quickly. More often, I see a new price on a familiar item and strike it off my list, saying – nope, I will not pay that.

I am not blaming Rom for our increased grocery costs. I buy many things for myself that he doesn’t eat or drink, like coffee and sweets. Likewise, although Link eats meat or fish daily, our dairy/dairy alternatives cost just as much.

All in all, I think it took a lot of conscious shopping to keep our grocery budget to a 4% increase. We have made changes in what we buy and how much, to stay on track. Sadly, we ended up eating more kinds of snack foods, and more of them. We didn’t need to add to our 5-9 fruit and veg a day, but bigger helpings of meal foods might have lessened snacking. This may have been related to a feeling of deprivation from having fewer restaurant meals and takeout, or just a desire to cheer ourselves up. Now Canada is telling us that zero alcohol is acceptable – maybe we’ll need even more cheering!

Have you changed the amount you spend on groceries or, are you choosing different foods? Any other new strategies?


  1. I’m delving into some numbers myself right now, with an eye to saving money. There are two adults in my household; we eat different diets. Comparing our January 2023 grocery expenses with those from January 2021, we’ve lowered our costs over the course of two years. Much of that is down to being more conscious of food waste but It’s also attributable to flat-out refusing to buy some items any more because the prices are too high.

    Our dining-out budget has increased though; this is our primary date/entertainment activity and leftovers supplement my work lunches so I feel it’s worth it. Coupons are buy-one/get-one deals are our go-to ways to maximize our budget in this way. Also, I participate in consumer panelist activities (via survey sites like Crowdtap and Swagbucks) so I cash out my survey points for restaurant gift cards as well.

  2. Deb

    Every year I am always impressed with your grocery analysis. Good work. We have reverted to eating meat in the past year , although very minimal. We have cut back on groceries. I am making a big pot of soup. I do make fabulous soup. Yum!

    • Hi Deb, Yummy soup would go down well on this cold February weekend! We decided to eat fish once a week, part way through 2022, but we only stuck with it for a month. We have meat or fish occasionally at a restaurant, if we feel like it.

  3. I’m very impressed with your accounting skills and you ability to keep track of your spending on food so diligently for so long! Intriguing to see the results. Thanks for writing it all up.

  4. I agree super impressed with what you have all worked out. All I know is it’s crazy how expensive everything is getting. I managed to get 3 romaine hearts on sale for $3.99, I was so happy!!! Glad I have my Tupperware fridge smarts that helps to keep everything fresh.

    • Hi Gill, I have one of the old Tupperware “celery keepers” which works great for celery and greens of any kind. I think a salad spinner would work to store greens in, too. I saw on one of your recent receipts that you got a good deal on the brand of shampoo and conditioner you bought 🙂 – not too mention all those points!

  5. Your level of detailed analysis is always so interesting. I can only say that we spent $800 more in 2022 than 2021. We did not eat out much so a reduction there though that tracking is mixed in with other recreation. I did read about Canada recommending no more than 2 drinks a week which would save us money too! I actually am aiming for that as I got in the habit of drinking more often during the worst of the pandemic. It has been colder than usual here but still quite warm for most of N. America. We have had lots of homemade soup and chili as a result.

  6. I always love your detailed analysis. I definitely do not possess that kind of dedication. But I think keeping your grocery increase to 4% means you are beating inflation at least. Here in Oz the inflation rate is at around 7%, but food bills are up by about 20% IRL. Like you, I have price points above which I will not buy groceries, but I also have a child who has medical issues and needs to eat specific things, which is a budget killer. I do try to shop the sales for their diet needs, and sometimes I win and sometimes I just suck it up.

  7. Well done, Dar, with your budgeting, tracking and analyzing. Like you, I track my expenses, cook all meals at home, and my grocery totals include everything (such as cleaning supplies, paper goods and personal care items). A quick comparison of my grocery totals in 2021 and 2022 shows an increase of 4.9%. I’ve been paying more attention to buy and stock up on what’s on sale. I eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and there is always something I like that’s on sale so I don’t feel deprived in anyway yet.

    • I was just thinking how many economies of scale we enjoy for being a household of 3 adults. It would be hard to buy fresh vegetables for one and use them all up. I agree – I always have choices and affordable options in my price range.

  8. Your breakdown of your food costs are (as always) very interesting. It is so different between countries what seasonal vegetables are (and how they are sold). While I still lived in Scandinavia I rarely bothered with fresh when frozen were both cheaper and more convenient. Here in the Netherlands everything is fresh and abundant with a lot less frozen to choose from even if I wanted it. There is really no limit to the amount of veg we can go through in a week. Fresh boiled Brussel sprouts with grated cheese on top is my favourite.

  9. H P

    Like others, I always find your recaps fascinating! I did this for a year (inspired by you) & we made tweaks. We have very different eaters in our house. We are feeding two adults (one who has to follow roughly a Keto diet, due to a nickel allergy) & two very active teen boys. We spent $9350 on groceries in 2022, which was a decrease from 2021. We splurged a lot in 2021, due to the pandemic. We’re trying to keep our budget to right around $10k for 2023. We’ll see how we net out.

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