With prices on just about everything increasing at the same time many peoples’ wages are decreasing, lots of folks are struggling to make ends meet. They’re cutting their variable expenses in whatever ways they can. For many, reducing variable expenses means cutting back on grocery spending.
Part of my reason for starting “Aunt B on a Budget” was to stimulate discussion about how families manage their food budgets. I know that I’m finding managing our grocery budget to be a real challenge and I know that many of you are too. How do you eat nutritious meals when you have less money to spend?
I’ve been posting a “What We Ate” blog every week or two showing our breakfast and supper menus. I thought it might give you an idea about how we’re managing our food budget. I also promised a list of our expenditures.
I plan my meals and chart my expenditures from Monday to Sunday, so my budget rarely runs from the first to the last day of any given month. This budget period covered five weeks, from November 28 to January 1. It does not include dining out (which comes from our entertainment budget), household supplies like paper goods and cleaning supplies, or personal care items.
I’m not off to a very auspicious start with my planning, having exceeded the month’s budget by almost $25.00. I knew I was over budget for our groceries this month because the grocery money envelope was almost empty by the middle of the week before Christmas.
As discussed in my last "What We Ate" post there were several reasons for my budget over-run. I'd used a lot of fresh tomatoes despite the fact that they're not in season, dairy prices have gone up yet again, we'd treated ourselves to both a steak dinner and a rotisserie chicken, and we'd had company.
Whatever the reasons for the near-empty grocery envelope, with five weeks in this month's grocery budget and both Christmas and New Year's Even falling within those weeks, I had to figure out what we were going to do to bridge the gap until the end of the month. In the end, I amended our menu plan to use more food from our pantry and freezer. We also chose to pull money from our entertainment budget and apply it to our grocery budget instead. I'm glad we did. It allowed us a few holiday season treats.
Our grocery expenditures for this five-week period totaled $174.23 and they break down like this:
- 3 x Good Food Box - $30.00
- 2 x 900 gram/1.98 pound packages aged cheddar cheese - $15.90
- 1 kilogram/2.2 pound package shredded mozzarella and edam cheese - $13.95
- 3 x 750 gram/1.65 pound packages cottage cheese - $16.38
- 3 x 675 gram/1.49 pound packages vanilla yogurt - $7.41
- 200 grams/.44 pound brie on sale @50% off - $2.49
- 2 x 4 litres/1.06 gallons 2% milk - $8.70
- 1 kg/2.2 pounds brie - $15.99
- 250 millilitre/.53 pints heavy (whipping) cream - $1.69
- 1 bunch of chives - $1.97
- 1 bunch of parsley - $0.79
- 1.47 kilograms/3.24 pounds fresh tomatoes - $6.45
- 1 English (seedless) cucumber - $0.97
- .626 kilograms/1.38 pounds red cabbage - $1.37
- .35 kilograms/.77 pounds red onion - $0.68
- 1 bunch fresh spinach - $1.27
- 2.44 kilograms/5.75 pounds rutabaga - $1.24
- 2 x 3 kilogram/6.61 pound boxes Japanese mandarin oranges - $11.98
- 2 heads of cauliflower - $2.97
- 1 lemon - $0.47
- .335 kilograms/.74 pounds carrots - $0.95
- .96 kilograms/2.14 pounds green cabbage - $1.67
- 1 rotisserie chicken - $7.95
- .64 kilograms/1.41 pound rib steak (on sale 30% off) - $5.92
- 4 sausage rolls - $5.64
- 4 x 398 milliliter/14 ounce tins chili style baked beans - $4.72
- 1 kilogram/2.2 pounds dried chick peas - $1.76
- 1 dozen croissants - $5.99
- 2 x 750 gram/1.65 pound boxes of Cornflakes (with a $1.00 coupon for each) - $3.94
- 700 gram/1.54 pound box Rice Krispies (with a $1.00 coupon) - $2.97
- 1 liter/2.11 pints organic beef stock - $0.99
- 3 x 2 liter/2.11 quart bottles soda - $2.64
- Sales tax - $1.28
- Bottle deposit - $0.60
- Recycle fee - $0.18
- Subtotal: $189.87
- Less gasoline rebate coupons redeemed - $15.64
- Total after gasoline rebate coupons - $174.23
Although we did go over budget, I still think we did pretty well this month.
I’m interested to know how other people are managing in these challenging times. Any tips you’d care to share will be welcomed.