10 Reasons Our Grocery Bill MORE Than Doubled!

posted by Andrea | 10/10/2011

For the first 5+ years of our marriage, Dave and I got by on a measly $20 – $25 per week grocery budget {the picture above is food that I purchased for only $22}!  We ate well, we ate healthy, we had a good variety of foods, our pantry and freezer were always stocked, and we never went hungry. The crazy thing is that it wasn’t even that difficult to do!

However, the past 2 months have been somewhat of a rude awakening to me as our grocery bills have jumped to $40, $50 and even $60 per week! 

Yes I’m still using coupons, yes I’m still faithfully shopping the sales, and yes I’m still meal planning… but we’ve had a lot of changes over the past 2 months and all those changes have really put some pressure on our super small grocery budget.

1. We have 2 extra mouths to feed.

Even though our international students don’t eat a lot, they eat a lot of “expensive” items like fresh fruit, fresh veggies, milk, cereal, and chips {they LOVE chips!} Fruit, veggies, and milk aren’t usually very discounted and there are hardly ever coupons for these items. Plus, has anyone else noticed that the price of cereal and chips is outrageous! Now I know why I stick to egg sandwichesoatmeal, and granola for breakfast!

They also go through crazy amounts of toilet paper and tissues — and you know that paper products aren’t cheap!

 

2. We finally got a deep freezer.

The picture above actually looks empty compare to what our freezer looks like right now! Our freezer is fully stocked with meats, cheeses, baked goods, extra meals, etc. That means I’ve been buying a lot more food lately, but hopefully it will mean lower bills {and less cooking time} in the future as we eat from our freezer.

 

3. Our pantry is bursting at the seems.

We re-purposed a few storage containers from our garage organizing project this summer and are using those as our new pantry. It is a vast improvement over our previous system and offers so much more storage — which has been extremely useful, especially since the girls like to purchase their own Vietnamese and Korean pantry staples as well.

 

4. We haven’t gone out to eat ONCE since the end of August.

Dave and I rarely went out to eat before — but if we did, we always used gift cards we receive throughout the year.

Well, we are almost completely out of gift cards {feel free to send us a few if you like!!} and going out to eat would be a lot more expensive with 2 extra people. So we have eaten every single meal at home since the end of August. Yes, that means I have prepared every single meal since the end of August — and our grocery bill has gone up as a result!

 

5. I’ve been canning a ton of produce.

I usually only can every other year — and this was the “on” year, so I’ve purchased lots of extra produce from local farms — but now I won’t need to buy peaches, pears, applesauce, tomatoes, salsa, or jam for the next 2 years. {I actually have much more than the picture above shows}

 

6. The price of groceries has gone up.

I’m sure this is happening nation wide, but the prices of groceries in West Michigan has slowly risen over the last couple of years — and I’m still shocked every time I buy bananas for $0.59 per pound!!! I can remember when I would shop with my mom and we’d never pay more than $0.25 per pound! These rising food prices are no-doubt, one of the reasons our bill is continuing to increase as well.

 

7. We’re getting ready for the baby.

I can’t tell you how many coupons I’ve gotten for free baby items — which has been great for stocking up. However, I’ve also gotten some very high-value coupons that make baby items extremely cheap {like formula, diapers, wipes, etc.} So even though the baby isn’t here yet, it just make sense to use these coupons before they expire to get baby necessities for ridiculously low prices.

I’m not sure if I will continue to include baby items in our “grocery budget”, but I am for now.

 

8. I don’t have a garden for the first year EVER!

Since we were so busy with all of our massive house renovations this winter, spring, and summer, we knew we would not have time to plant or maintain a garden. {We had enough of a challenge just finding time to mow the lawn and weed!}

So for the first year ever, I didn’t have a garden to pick from on a daily and weekly basis. This meant that I had to actually BUY all of our vegetables this year… expensive!

 

9. I’ve already started stocking up for holiday baking.

I know it’s only October, but with a new baby due only weeks before Thanksgiving, I figured I better start stocking up on Holiday baking items now — which aren’t cheap!

 

10. We’re entertaining more.

Since our house renovations are finally complete {for the most part!} and our living room isn’t filled with tools, wood flooring, and tons of dust; we’ve been taking the opportunity to actually invite people over! We’ve had company a few times this past month and have several large groups coming in the next 2 weeks.

And as you all know, entertaining costs money. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but there are additional expense involved in feeding people {big shocker!} but it’s something we want to do and are thoroughly enjoying sharing our newly renovated home with family and friends!

 

So those are just a few reasons why our grocery bill has jumped from around $20 – $25 per week to $40, $50, or even $60 per week. 

Part of me feels disappointed that I’m no longer able to keep our grocery budget SO LOW, but I just have to remind myself that there is a time and season for everything, and our growing family is an excellent reason for this increase!

Plus, for a family of 4 {and a half!} who never goes out to eat and has a freezer and pantry FULL of food, I think I’m still doing OK if I keep our budget around $40-$60 per week!

What do you think? Do you have any tips for keeping costs down?

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26 comments

  1. Stacey

    10/10/2011

    That is still incredible. Ive actually been able to lower ours to about $80 a week lately but i cantseem to get it any lower. I am awful at couponing. I use a few here and there but there just never seems to be coupons for the foods i buy. I think i need you to come shopping with me one of these days, lol.

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  2. Kelley

    10/10/2011

    I think $60/week is really impressive! We don’t eat much of any processed food either, but it still adds up. And does it seem to anyone else that groceries in general have just gotten more expensive lately? I was shocked when a normal-sized jar of mayo was over $5!

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  3. Karla

    10/10/2011

    Consider yourself lucky! I live in Canada and groceries are much more expensive and couponing is not the same at all. I have 3 small children and for the 5 of us I spend about $450-$500 per month. (This also includes diapers and baby items.) Many of my friends with similar sized families spend $800-$1000 per month. I cook everything from scratch and do not use expensive ingredients. We very rarely go out to eat. However, we do entertain a fair bit. I buy a lot of fresh fruit, veggies, milk, dairy. These are what cost the most. Consider yourself lucky!

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  4. Leslie B.

    10/10/2011

    I find that if I grocery shopping big time once a month, I spend about $150 in that trip. I maintain about $50 the three other weeks. And as much as I love couponing- I can’t hardly ever find coupons for what I buy!
    I have been canning like a crazy person all summer long (everything from tomatoes, jams, 50# of potatos- there is a mennonite bulk food store about an hour and a half from my house and I have been shopping there about once every two months. I scored premimum butter for $2.40 a pound if I bought a case- so I split the case with my mother and froze the 18 pounds. (yikes! But I bake a ton) Even a bushel of apples was cheaper (They’re $27.50 a bushel at my local orchard, and only $13 from the bulk food store)
    I’ve also been purchasing some of my pantry staples online- from Amazon’s Grocery store! If you know what you spend on something in the store, sometimes they can beat the price (Even with a coupon) You can get free shipping if you subscribe to that item and then cancel it at any time afterwards. I’ve stocked up on cereal with great deals for 6 months! But be sure to know what you pay per ounce- otherwise you’ll get taken for!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for the tips Leslie — I like your idea of one main trip each month and then 3 smaller trips. I’ve thought about doing that, but just haven’t implemented it yet.
    I too have done some shopping on Amazon.com and get great deals on things like coffee and bulk baking supplies!!

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  5. Tanys

    10/10/2011

    wow!! that is amazing, I’m with Karla – I live in Canada – in the middle of the country so far from any fresh ochards or coasts for fresh seafood, i try to keep our budget around $100/week with 2 kids and my hubby, who doesn’t mind 2-3 vegetarian meals a week. We go out maybe once for under $20 as a treat. Our coupons don’t work as great as yours – so sounds like you’re doing a great job it you can keep it that low – my only tip is to do your own babyfood once the time comes, there are great resources out there for homemade super porridges and loads of how-toos!

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  6. Kate

    10/10/2011

    It looks like you are doing an amazing job keeping your grocery bill down! It’s true that making your own baby food is soooo much cheaper than buying prepared and it’s not hard to do at all. (I have 3 kids.) The only tip I could think to add is that when your little bundle comes along, is breastfeed! It’s FREE!! Not to mention all of the benefits to mom and baby. Formula is expensive! Just enlist the help of a Certified Lactation Consultant for help (not all mother/baby nurses in the hospital are supportive or informed and even some pediatricians, too–sad to say.) Good luck!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kate! I’ve already gotten TONS of free formula and free formula coupons, however I’m still planning to breastfeed for now. The formula doesn’t expire for over a year so if I don’t end up using it, I’ll just donate it!!

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    Jennifer Reply:

    I do the same with the formula – and last baby it just sat on a shelf and never got used. However, it’s not bad to have around just in case it’s needed, so I did the same with our new baby.

    If you decide to nurse for sure, I suggest a good breast pump too. Mine is Ameda, just as good as Medela and not as expensive. It’s nice to have some frozen for baby, and sometimes, like if you have mastitis, it really helps to be able to get out any excess milk. And now baby is waking to eat! :)

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    emily Reply:

    I agree with jennifer on the breast pump! Some insurances will actually cover the cost of one if your dr/midwife writes you a prescription. Or you could check second hand children’s stores and buy new hook ups (super inexpensive). I actually got mine gently used at a garage sale and my sis-in-law and i have passed it back and forth between pregnancies :)

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    Pamela Reply:

    Here’s another option to consider if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you and your baby: pump exclusively. I had GREAT difficulty breastfeeding my first (gave up after 4 months) and my second didn’t go any better. So I pump. For my first, I pumped the whole first year. My second, 7 months old now, also gets all breastmilk, from a bottle. If you can breastfeed, of course, do that! But if you can’t breastfeed or are hesitant to use formula, consider pumping full-time. I know it sounds crazy (and yes, I suppose it is!), but it’s another viable option for us moms. Most aren’t aware that it’s even possible!

    Good luck to you with the baby. Can’t wait to hear your good news. Oh, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog. Fabulous content on a daily basis — doesn’t get any better than that! Thanks for all you do.

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  7. Christy, The Simple Homemaker

    10/10/2011

    I, for one, think you’re doing great! I remember the days of spending $20 a week…when there were two of us. Now there are eight and a half…actually, nearly a whole. It does get more challenging.

    I’m drooling over your “canned” goods and your freezer!

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  8. Tammy

    10/10/2011

    While I’m sure it has to be shocking (even though you knew you’d have double the people), I would be THRILLED if we only spent only $60 per week, especially if it included produce for canning! I think you are doing great and could probably learn a lot from you still.

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  9. Jenni

    10/10/2011

    Just a quick lesson learned- we have been in the adoption process for years and I stockpiled diapers and formula- make sure to tape your receipts to the items so you can exchange them if your baby ends up needing/prefering a different type of product.

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  10. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving

    10/10/2011

    I’ve noticed the same with grocery prices. I’ve been trying to start stocking up for the holidays, too, and need to do some baking to refill my freezer. Way to can! I’m hoping to can some applesauce soon as it’s one of my favorite fruits. That will be my new thing to can this year. Thanks for sharing…as always!

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  11. Julia

    10/10/2011

    Hey Andrea, I pay about $60-75 a week for a family of three (my son is just 1 and a half!) but we buy him organic milk at my husband’s request (so expensive). And he eats a lot of cheese, produce, meat, beans… I price match like mad and have excellent produce deals here year round too.

    Anyhow, whenever my grocery budget gets beyond me (not saying your has!) it’s normally the Lord reminding me that he provides and I’m just the steward – especially when I’m all bummed because I spent $80 one week or didn’t use some coupons.

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  12. Keri M.

    10/10/2011

    I love the idea of preserving the fruits that are in season to enjoy them in the winter months! I agree with many of the above comments that making food from scratch is cheaper and healthier than packaged foods (not to mention less packaging, which is close to my trash-free heart). Too bad there is no coupon for bulk flour! I also have to agree with another reader that breastfeeding is free, portable, never spoils, and studies show that breastfed babies get sick less often (fewer doctor co-pays and missed work days for parents). The financial reasons alone should get hospitals to quit handing out free formula and instead send in a lactation consultant. ::end rant::

    Aside from all that, I enjoy your perspectives and think it’s really fun that you are parenting 2 teenagers even as your firstborn waits to enter the world!

    Best wishes to you in the coming weeks!

    Keri

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  13. Jen

    10/10/2011

    That’s not too shabby for everything you’re stocking up on. I’d check our places like walgreens, and cvs for paper goods like toilet paper and paper towels. They often have great deals with extra care bucks and register rewards.

    Also if you purchase ALL YOU magazine at walmart or subscribe, there are loads of coupons in there as well as better homes and gardens (which I got a free subscription too). Oh, and following blogs like HIP2Save.com, Disciount Queens, and local ones helps the savings spread, too.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jen — I do frequently play the “Drugstore Game” and am able to get almost all our toiletries for free — however I haven’t has as much luck with toilet paper. We don’t have double coupons here, so it’s pretty much impossible to get it free {but you’re right, those stores will still probably have the best deals!}

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  14. emily

    10/11/2011

    I am in awe of you! Will you come down to kalamazoo and teach me? :)

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    Andrea Reply:

    lol — thanks Emily. I don’t think I’ll be in Kalamazoo any time soon but seriously — feel free to email me if you have a quick question or two!

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  15. Cortney

    10/13/2011

    UMMMM that is still pretty amazing. It’s just the two of us and our 2 little guys 4.5 and under and we just raised our budget to $100/ week. Although honestly I don”t spend the full amount but i def. do not average $60 /week. I used to do $40/week but it was too hard to buy fresh fruits and veggies with that so with an increase in income we decided to increase our budget for produce and to make life a bit simpler for me as our oldest has special needs and we are homeschooling. When things get a bit calmer I will def. try to whittle it down a bit more….

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    Cortney Reply:

    Oh we didn”t jump from $40-$100 it took some time…. And I do double batch cook frequently so some weeks like I say we use a little less, that is just we budget for…..

    Be encouraged though your doing great!

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  16. Laura

    03/14/2012

    Check out the USDA’s “Thrifty Food Plan.” It seems a little high to me, since Jordan and I are easily under it, but It may put your $60/week into perspective a bit.

    http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodCost-Home.htm

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Laura — that’s an interesting resource! Looks like I’m still below the average :)

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  17. L.

    04/01/2012

    where did u get the storage container’s for your pantry? is there a way to put a lock on them? I live in an apt. building and there is (sort of) a storage room, but everyone in the building has the key so we would want to lock anything we stored in there (at our own risk). can u store canned goods in a storage container?

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