I’m inspired by the grocery journal that Lili at CreativeSavv posts each month and thought I would use this method this year. I like how everything purchased is right there in one post. For January we embarked on a pantry challenge, with a goal to spend no more than $100/month on groceries. My birthday is this month, so I did take advantage of some opportunities to eat out at a discount.
January 1 — I stop at Lucky’s Market on the way home from a hike with a friend. This is a new natural foods grocery store that isn’t close to my home, but is close to where we were hiking. I buy 4 grapefruit for $.50, 4lbs of navel oranges for $.48/lb, a huge bunch of parsley (it’s massive!!) for $.34 and a doughnut (post hike treat) for $1.29. Total spent: $4.05.
January 1 — Realize that I had forgotten bananas when at Lucky’s and so pull into Publix. I buy one bunch of bananas for $.59/lb. I also pick up a box of small trash bags for $3.29, but that will come out of the pet budget since it is for collecting cat litter. Total grocery budget spent: $1.00.
January 3 — Native Sun has a great price on organic broccoli and kale. The broccoli will be for my birthday dinner and I can always use kale. I pick up a bunch of each at $1.99 and $1.29 respectively. Total spent is $3.23 after $.05 reduction for bringing my own bag.
January 3 — I also stop at the Fresh Market as they had collard greens for $.89/bunch for New Years. I will use these for dinner tonight. I also pick up a bunch of organic scallions at $.99. My total is $1.88.
January 8 — We are almost out of coffee beans and I’ve received an e-coupon for $2 off organic salad greens at BJs, so I stop there on the way home from a meeting. We’re trying a new brand (Wellsley Farms, BJs house brand) of coffee as it is both cheaper and fair trade. At $14.79/40 oz, it is $5 cheaper than the Starbucks beans. Although there is frequently a $5 off coupon for Starbucks, there wasn’t this time. And the fair trade designation makes me feel good. With the $2 off coupon, the salad greens are only $1.99 for a 16 oz clamshell of organic baby spinach. Even though I don’t buy much, this is my most expensive shopping stop of the month, so far! The coffee will last us through February. Total spent is $16.78.
January 8 — I also stop at Aldi on my way home from the same meeting. A lot of prices have returned to their pre-holiday norm; eggs are $1.49 a dozen. I truly don’t understand Aldi’s egg pricing. I buy one dozen as well as cottage cheese, half and half, mushrooms, bananas, bagels and a marked down bag of Hershey’s Kisses ($1.49). My Aldi total is $11.13.
January 11 — I decide to drive over to the new natural foods store I visited at the beginning of the month. Their adds start on Wednesday, but they allow you to also shop using the previous week’s ad on that day, too (they call it Double Ad Wednesday). I am trying to decide if the value of their deals makes an every other week trip there worth it. I am still undecided — its a pretty long drive. But. They have (today) really lovely Florida strawberries for $.98/lb, honeycrisp apples for $.98/lb, organic navel oranges for $.98/lb as well as a number of other good deals. I stock up on apples, oranges and strawberries as well as grabbing a bunch of kale and a package of grape tomatoes. Total spent is $10.68.
January 11 — I stop at Aldi on my way home as well; my husband has started drinking a little milk before meals to help cut down on acid reflux symptoms* and we finished the half gallon I bought earlier in the month. I also grab a loaf of 12 grain bread, more eggs, organic vanilla yogurt, blueberries that were on sale and green peppers, also on sale. Although I was not planning on purchasing snacky or convenience type foods this month during the pantry challenge, I decide to grab an bag of individually packaged servings of trail mix. This is a good and easy thing to throw in my backpack in case the food I’ve packed for meals on class days doesn’t satisfy me. I really want to get out of the habit of eating when I get home at 9:30. Total spent is $14.69.
My total spent so far this month is $63.92, a little more than I’d like to have spent this early in the month, although replenishing the coffee was definitely a hit to the budget.
January 18 — Back to Aldi. I have to pick up some snacks for an upcoming trip (this will come out of our travel budget) in addition to our weekly groceries. I get organic skim milk, organic vanilla yogurt (this stuff is really good!), low fat cottage cheese, a dozen eggs, a bag of spinach — on sale for $.89, a package of romaine hearts, bananas, broccoli, a bag of pink lady apples, bagels and a loaf of bread. My total is $21.75.
January 25 — We’ve been doing pretty well on our pantry challenge so far this month, but I am definitely noticing that some of my staples need to be replenished. I would also like to take advantage of some good deals, but have resisted since we don’t NEED anything and it would be counter to the challenge. Anyway, I hit Aldi again, for a repeat of many of the same things I’ve bought each week. This time I purchase anjou pears, baby carrots (2 bags), pink lady apples, avocados, grape tomatoes, garlic, a pack of multi-colored peppers, celery, a dozen eggs, bagels, low fat cottage cheese, hot dog buns, and ranch dressing. My total is $22.31.
This brings my monthly total to $107.98, a little over my goal of $100. There are still four days left in the month and technically I could be done with my shopping for the month. But there are a couple sales at Publix that I want to take advantage of, and frankly, I’m looking ahead to February, now.
January 27 — I have actually almost run out of onions — the horror! Save-A-Lot has three pound bags on sale for $.89 each. I buy two and spend $1.78.
January 27 — While out, I also stop at Publix. In December I had purchased some canned soup for Michael to heat and eat while I was away during my trip to visit family. He really liked that and so when I see that Campbell’s Well Yes soup is free with coupons at Publix this week, I decide to stock up. I get six cans and spend a total of $.69 for all six. I also buy some Melitta coffee filters; they are on BOGO which brings the price down to the equivalent of the Publix brand. I prefer the Melitta but not enough to buy them if they aren’t on sale. I also get a bag of corn meal — we’ve been out since the beginning of the month. I also get a 5lb bag of potatoes (the ten pound bags rot too quickly, and the Aldi price isn’t that different for 5lbs), some Pace salsa which is also on BOGO & I have coupons, and bananas. The bananas at both Aldi and Target were terrible when I shopped earlier in the week. My total at Publix is $12.51.
My total for the month is $122.27. While this is over my stated goal of $100 for the month during a pantry challenge, I am frankly pretty pleased with this number. It’s probably the lowest I’ve ever spent on groceries in a month.
Last fall I decided to take a little time to figure out how I wanted to handle our grocery budget. I also wanted to be more accountable for the amount we spend on eating out. Taking into account a variety of different factors, I’m going to attempt a grocery budget of $200 per month in 2017. This is just for food. I’m also allotting an additional $100 for eating out, bringing my total on regular food expenses to $300. I think this is doable, but will require some stretching and discipline. I’m also budgeting $25/month on toiletries & cleaning supplies. I expect that I will overspend this some months, and under spend in others as I tend to stock up and it takes a while for us to go through these items. Anyway, here’s how I did on these numbers in January:
- Groceries — $122.27
- Eating Out — $94.87
- Toiletries — $30.87
I honestly had hoped that our eating out numbers would be much lower this month, but as I’ve indicated a few times already, starting back to school was a bigger shock to my system than I anticipated. I definitely didn’t prepare well for my days on campus and about $25 of that number is due to me grabbing snacks while at school or on my way there. We also ate out for my birthday and opted for delivery the night after I got home from my trip to DC. I don’t think we’ll eat out much in February, though. We are going to a friend’s for the Super Bowl and I volunteered to bring chicken wings, which I will buy. And my parents are planning to visit at the end of the month; we may or may not eat out while they are here.