How our Grocery Bill Has Changed in Two Years

posted by Andrea | 12/10/2012

When I first started this blog (Sep. 2010) I was spending $20 or less on groceries each week — yes, that’s $20, NOT $200 — and no, we didn’t eat ramen noodles every night!

We had a full-size refrigerator/freezer in our kitchen, another refrigerator in our garage, a full-size deep freezer, and a huge pantry downstairs that were all stuffed full of food.

However, that was back when I had LOADS of time to clip every coupon, find every deal, shop at multiple different stores, and send in numerous rebates. It was a game for me and I REALLY enjoyed it. It was fun to see how much money I could save each week — and I was good at it!

One time, the store actually PAID me $0.25  to take a whole cart full of groceries home :)

Fast-forward two years … now I have a home that requires more maintenance,  a baby who doesn’t exactly love to sleep, and a much more demanding work schedule… I’ve simply decided that although I love the thrill of finding a fabulous deal, it’s just not worth spending all that extra time.

I still clip coupons, shop the sales, and make a meal plan every week, but for the most part, I do all my grocery shopping at Meijer and I only shop one morning each week. No more drug-store games, no more rebates, no more scouring the internet to find every deal.

Not that I think any of those are “bad” things or “a waste of time” — they just aren’t worth MY time at this point in my life.

However, even with just my coupons, my store flyer, and a weekly meal plan, I’m still able to keep our weekly grocery bill to roughly $50 — which seems quite reasonable after talking to many of my friends and relatives.

Yes, it’s more than double what I used to spend, but if you factor in all the time I’m saving by only shopping at one store, not doing rebates, and not spending time on the internet or looking through multiple store ads, it’s definitely worth the extra monetary expense.

If I really wanted to make the time, I could – but I figure it’s worth spending $30 extra each week since I can make more than $30 if I spend that time working instead!

Oh, and I should mention that the $50 per week DOES include baby wipes and baby food/snacks, but it doesn’t always include diapers. Those are the ONE thing that I’m still willing to shop around for (and stock up on) when there’s a great deal somewhere other than Meijer. I’ve ordered some from Amazon.com and often get diapers from Rite Aid or Walgreens when they have fabulous sales (if I’m really being honest though, my mom usually gets the diapers and I just pay her back!)

So while it would be nice to save that $30 per week (over $1500 per year), I’ve decided that at this point in my life, my time (and my sanity) is more valuable than my money — especially since Nora only lasts so long in the front of the cart before she needs to “move around” in the back of the cart!

I’m sure that over the next several years, as our family grows and kids get older, our grocery bill will continue to increase.

I suppose there might come a time when I’m willing to make more of an effort to do the rebates and drug-strore game again — but for now, buying groceries is just one more thing I need to cross off my list each week, and my goals is to do it as quickly and as easily as possible!

Have you also noticed your spending habits change at different seasons in life?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: BudgetingFrugal LivingLife

 
 

35 comments

  1. The Diaper Diaries

    12/10/2012

    I used to cut all the coupons, do all the drugstore games and stockpile like a champ. With three kids. But we radically changed the way we eat and virtually nothing that I buy can be bought with a coupon any more. Most of our food comes from a farmer or a farmer’s market. I barely go to Meijer anymore.

    At first I was super bummed that our grocery bill basically doubled but we also haven’t been to the doctor for an illness in over a year. So I think it works out :) I do miss the hunt though. I used to love the game of it all. That being said I haven’t couponed in two years and we are just now on our last tube of toothpaste lol ;)

    [Reply]

  2. Candis

    12/10/2012

    Thank you so much for posting on this topic. I have had a burning question for you for a while but was not sure the best media for asking the question. So……my question is this. I am single and live alone is it reasonable to spend $20.00 a week on food or should I be spending more? I like eating fairly healthy and I like “real” food (love the recipies you post) and I LOVE the homemade granola.

    I know your posts are geared towards familes and there are a lot of helpful info that I use and apply to my life. I also use you blog as a tool to become more organized for when I do have my family. Maybe you can post something for the single ladies – lol I dont know if that will even be reasonable for your target audience but thought I would put it out there. Thank you again for the work that you put into your blog and the info that you share, my life is really better for it. :-)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Candis!
    I think $20 per month is really reasonable for a single person. I find that often times a single person spends as much as a couple — and I know many single people and couples who spend closet to $100 per week (so you’re doing awesome!)

    So glad you are taking some of my “family geared” posts and making them work for your life too!

    [Reply]

    Candis Reply:

    Thank you – yay!!!! :-) and I know you meant $20.00 a week not month (lol) :-)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, $20 per WEEK!

    [Reply]

    Diana Reply:

    I live alone and spend about $18 a week for food. My sister on the other hand also lives alone and I wouldn’t be surprised if she spends closer to $30-40 a week. I don’t eat much meat compared to her and probably have simpler meals, so am able to save that way. I don’t hear of many other singles who spend so little, so I think you are doing great!

    [Reply]

    Candis Reply:

    Thank you Diana – that’s great that you do the same. And you are absolutely right a lot of single people I know spend A LOT on food and I was one of those. I downloaded my bank statements from the prior year and added up all groceries and eating out I almost fell over when I got the cost of how much I spent it was well into the thousands yes you read right the thousands (no I dont have a very large income). So $20 a week it is :-)

    [Reply]

  3. Jessica

    12/10/2012

    I am just amazed at how little you spend!
    After I had my first child…I changed the way we shop by using coupons and shopping sales at multiple stores, might I add that while I was saving a ton…it was still double what you spend NOW (lol). After the second child came, I don’t know exactly what happened…more kids= less time and energy. The willingness to spend a little more for the sake of making shopping quick and easy increased. I save where I can and splurge when I feel its necessary. I spend about $150 a week and that is if we are stocking up on meat or household goods.
    You have talent, my friend. Only $50? I would not be complaining if I were you. Lol.

    [Reply]

  4. shelly

    12/10/2012

    I am so frustrated at the price I pay at the grocery store these days. I cook everything from scratch, hardly ever buy premade&box type things and it keeps going up. Can you go over how to keep your grocery bill down or show us a what a weekly menu of yours is? I really need help in this area. We are a family of 4 with 2 boys that are 11 and 14 and they are both going through growing spurts with endless appetites. I don’t buy junk food or soda pop and save that for special occasions. I try to use left overs, husband takes lunch to work and we homeschool so we eat 3 meals a day at home. Any help or tips would be much appreciated.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Don’t be frustrated Shelly — just from reading your comment I can tell that you SHOULD spend way more on groceries. Not only do you have double the mouths to feed (Nora doesn’t eat much yet), you also have TWO teen boys who eat a ton!!

    Also, you go through way more food when you eat all your meals at home each week — so I’m sure you’re doing just fine :)

    That said, here is a link to many of my meal plans — as you’ll see, we eat lots of inexpensive meals (pasta, mexican, soup/salad) etc.)

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    @ Shelly, give yourself some grace. Teenagers eat so much and it sounds like your doing your very best to keep your food cost down. Keep up the good work!!

    [Reply]

  5. Jessica

    12/10/2012

    And P.S.
    You have motivated me to try a little harder!

    [Reply]

  6. Wall Decal Company

    12/10/2012

    Wow i wish I could spend that. I am a family of 4 and average over the 12 months to spend $500 per month

    [Reply]

  7. Colleen @ MommieDaze

    12/10/2012

    Sounds to me like you’re a mama who has her priorities straight, and knows what’s important! I’d say your time and sanity are well worth those extra $30 a week.

    [Reply]

  8. Kimberly

    12/10/2012

    With 3 teenagers in the house and eating every meal at home I’m very happy with $150.00 a week. And oh soooo thankful we have it to spend. Groceries are so expensive in Las Vegas…..$150.00 a week is cheap!

    [Reply]

  9. Lisa

    12/10/2012

    I am impressed. I use coupons but have been spending $80-$100 a month. This includes diapers & softener salt. I feel between the rise in food prices, coupon values or deals aren’t as good and my kids are eating more too. I have a family of 6 total. I have been doing non sale items at Aldi and sale/coupon items at Meijer. It has helped to keep me in the 80-100 range. Thanks for your blog. I enjoy reading it. I found you on Pinterest and love that you live in West Michigan like me. :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Lisa, do you spend $100 per month or per week? I’m guessing you spend that per week (which is still fabulous considering you have 4 kids!) Way to go :)

    [Reply]

    Lisa Reply:

    Yes meant per week! Oh boy maybe I need to go back to bed today. :) Thanks for the encouragement.

    [Reply]

  10. monica good

    12/10/2012

    Wow.

    Spending on different seasons of life….It does certainly change over time and with health needs. When my boys were young and at home, I drove from Maryland to Pa to shop on a regular basis. We homeschooled and were on basically one income. I drove to Aldi’s in Gettysburg and took coolers. At that time, we ate processed foods, examples, canned soups, boxed mac and cheese, etc…..I don’t shop like that at all anymore. I buy higher quality foods but, I also buy less than what I did, even five years ago. Aldi’s is a great source for staples and although the foods are not “organic” as certified by the federal government, many items do come from family farms and not industrial farms.

    I don’t buy many canned items, and very few processed ready to eat items. Pizza would be our exception. When you buy singular items, you’re bound to spend more. When you buy fresh items, that are nutrient rich, you tend to eat less.

    I know now I could have saved even more when my kids were small, like, not so much juice and had them drink more water….but, 20/20 hindsight!

    Although it is just my husband, one son and myself at home, I haven’t changed the way I cook or the amount. there are always extras at my table! My dad, my son and his wife and soon to be my inlaws! I spend $90-$100 per week. That is fresh or frozen veggies and fruit, meat that I usually buy on MOndays after the weekend when they stick coupons for reduced price. I also have reduced our meat consumption greatly!

    I fix many meatless but protein rich meals. I make a pot of soup every week, I have sandwich night, or giant salad night or breakfast. Great reduction there as well. I tend to not buy a bunch of junk! I limit the soda as well. I am also very inclined to wipe out bumped and bruised produce carts, and freeze ripe bananas, cut up apples and whip up a pie or strudel and veggies can be used immediately or cut up and frozen and the onion skins, potatoe peels, celery ends etc., don’t throw those away, you use those for making stock and broth! Same with beef, ham bones, poultry carcass and shrimp shells! Yes, shrimp shells! Another treat: save and freeze orange, lemons, lime and graprefruit peels to make candied citrus rinds….it is awesome!!!!!! A great candy treat occasionally. So many ways to use up as much as possible for very little cost! Next time you buy wastermelon, pickle it. You use the whole watermelon and waste nothing!

    That’s how I do things at Casa De Bueno!

    [Reply]

  11. Angie

    12/10/2012

    Heyyyy Andrea!
    What do you mean when you say the “drug store game”? Thanks for all your good ideas!
    Angie

    [Reply]

  12. Jen

    12/10/2012

    $50 per week is VERY impressive. And you know, your weekly bill would probably have gone up some anyway because the cost of food has gone up in the past two years and grocers have gotten wise to the grocery game and begun making couponing a bit harder. So even without all the extra effort, you’re probably still pretty close to where you would be.

    [Reply]

  13. Melanie

    12/10/2012

    I have a body builder husband and 4 active teenagers, our grocery budget is way too much…150 a week. We go thru 8-10 gal of milk a week. I never have time to shop around…I do as u do and feel my time is better spent other places… But I wish I could get my grocery bill lower!

    [Reply]

    susie Reply:

    I would think $150 is reasonable for 6 adults! We spend about that too.

    [Reply]

  14. Chris

    12/10/2012

    Yes definitely. I do not work right now. But when I did work, I had a good paying job, worked at home and was able to work extra. So it made more sense for me to spend more money on convenience type foods and, in turn, I had more time to work.

    [Reply]

  15. Jennifer M.

    12/10/2012

    Wow, that is amazing. We spend on average about 250 dollars every two weeks. I feel sometime like that is a lot when I here other people say I spend 50 dollars a week. But with four kids under 5 (another one on the way) and one on a strict (no wheat, no gluten, no soy, no dairy) diet, I find it hard not to spend that much or maybe a little more when the Azure standard truck comes in for the month. I usually spend about 100 or more every month on the truck order. I find coupons are good for somethings, but most of the stuff is just junk. We used to do a lot of things from homemade, but for my sanity I find it easier to buy certain things….like bread, crackers, salad dressings, etc. Do you think I’m spending too much or need to change anything? I’ve tried but find it so difficult with rising prices and trying to eat organically and special diets. (We do grow a garden in the summer, which helps reduce produce purchases)

    [Reply]

  16. Kristin

    12/10/2012

    Ah great topic. I’m terrible at meal planning, grocery shopping and couponing. For starters I have 2 very picky eaters for kids. I’ve tried “forcing” them to eat what we eat, but that just doesn’t work. So I usually always have to have a backup on hand just in case. My husband and I like a variety of foods and if we just ate what they ate, we’d have hot dogs and mac n’cheese for every meal. My other problem is that I hate the grocery store, I work full time and I would rather spend my time with my kids than making meal plans and shopping. I probably just need to try one of those meal planning services. We currently budget $80 per week for groceries, but that figure was determine back when we had to buy diapers, but our youngest is now potty trained. We also don’t go to the store just once a week. I will frequently stop on my way home to pick up whatever we need for dinner that night and I am sure we are overspending because of that….that and my love of all things Trader Joe’s.

    [Reply]

  17. Rebecca

    12/10/2012

    What I do now is coupon binge for a couple of months once or twice a year. I stock up on drugstore items, things like mayo, salad dressing, toilet paper, etc. then just shop the ads the rest of the time. This gives us significant savings on items we use regularly without tempting me with coupons I don’t need or to stock up on more than we will use in time. It works well for us!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is such a great idea Rebecca! I never thought about doing this before! I’d have to find a few other sources for coupons so I could use several of a particular coupon at one time… but I could probably ask friends and family if I wanted to try you “binge” method!

    [Reply]

    Rebecca Reply:

    This is when I will sometimes use use a clipping service. If I am ON it, I can often see ads, order coupons and get them before the sale week ends. And of course if there is a good sale and they run out, get the rain checks and then find the coupons…

    [Reply]

  18. Rebecca

    12/10/2012

    Well, I could tell you what I pay for groceries and you would all feel great about yourselves! Of course, I am feeding 7 kids, plus myself and my husband. And 6 of those kids are boys, so you know my grocery bill is huge. I do use coupons, and I have the blessing of shopping at the military grocery store. I could never stay in my budget if I had to shop anywhere else. I make most meals from scratch and we have two nights a week that are leftover or sandwich nights. Ok, ok, are you curious about my bill?? I spend an average of $300 a week on groceries. That does include diapers. So while I would LOVE to get it lower, I don’t think it’s possible for my family. I do love reading about ways to save and envy those with the time for large coupon stashes, but for me, I have to spend my time on other things. The last person who commented before me said she only does the big coupon/drug store thing a couple of times a year, and I think I may try that. Thanks for the idea!! That’s why I love this site and it’s readers, lots of great ideas!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    WOW!!! I can’t even imagine shopping for 9 people ever week! Sounds like you are definitely making the most of your resources (time and money)!

    [Reply]

    Rebecca Reply:

    Its an adventure, no doubt! And getting ready to kick one out to college next fall, so we will see what that does to the grocery budget. ;-)

    [Reply]

  19. Jennifer

    12/10/2012

    I used to be a hardcore couponer, but it got to the point of insane! That’s all I was doing. I was spending every waking hour….MINUTE…..cutting coupons, searching the internet for deals, driving to multiple stores to get every deal out there……I was obsessed. One day I decided that I just couldn’t do it anymore and I stopped cold turkey. Another huge factor was that I just didn’t have the space to store everything I was buying. And truthfully, I wasn’t saving in the long run…I was just buying more. I still have my beloved coupon binder tucked away because I just can’t part with it, but it is in retirement for now!

    [Reply]

  20. Amanda

    12/11/2012

    I spend ~$450/mo in groceries and diapers (Nora is about 2mo older than my son). I used to run around doing all of the deals I could, but I just don’t have the time anymore. I work from home plus caring for my son. The only time I take advantage of the drug store deals is for diapers, and rarely anything else. Our grocery store double coupons up to 99 cents, so that helps. I meal plan for 2 weeks at a time (not what day for what meals, but I buy all of the food needed for ~12 dinners, and just work them in throughout the 2 weeks). On the off week I only pick up staples (milk, bread, lunch meat, etc.).

    I think the area of the country that you live in makes a huge difference too. I can get super cheap produce all summer, and rarely buy any of it in the grocery, but in the winter everything has to be shipped in and produce can get pretty expensive. I know that prices in our area across the board have risen significantly in the last few years. It makes it difficult to keep your costs down.

    [Reply]

  21. What Do You Do When Your Grocery Bill Increases? | Your Daily Finance

    06/26/2013

    [...] experience this in the past but usually in the summer since there is no school the grocery bill increases. Instead of waking up eating breakfast at home, then maybe at school and being away from the house [...]

Leave a comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.