Grocery budget motivation #2

How is everyone’s 2013 grocery budget holding up?  Brian and I haven’t made any changes to our grocery budget this year.  We are still spending $200 a month for the two of us, usually split up into $100 for the first half of the month and $100 for the second half.  This pays for all of our breakfasts, lunches and dinners, fruit and snacks.  Here’s how a recent $100 broke down:

Photo Credit: Stacy Spensley via Flickr

Photo Credit: Stacy Spensley via Flickr

At Superstore, we spent $44.45:

  • 1L apple juice – $0.99 (plus recycling and deposit fees $0.12)
  • canned soup – $1.66
  • 3 vermicelli instant noodles – $0.99
  • 2 ramen instant noodles – $1.36
  • canned corn – $0.87
  • frozen grape punch – $0.64
  • 6-pack of 100g yogurt – $4.47
  • rice cakes – $0.99
  • harvarti cheese – $4.87
  • 200g deli meat – $3.51
  • whole wheat bread – $1.78
  • 1lb cooked shrimp – $3.98
  • 3 large pork tenderloins – $13.21
  • 4 bananas – $0.69
  • 2lbs carrots – $1.48
  • 1 English cucumber – $1.47
  • 1 red mango – $0.77
  • 1 chayote squash – $0.48

At the bakery, we also picked up 3 stuffed buns for $2.65

At the local market, we spent: $1.31

  • 3 tomatoes – $0.36
  • 4 bananas – $0.95
At Shoppers Drug Mart, we spent: $6.28
  • 1 dozen eggs – $2.29
  • 1kg peanut butter – $3.99
With what I’ve purchased, I’ve already made several meals:
  • 6 sandwiches, using the deli meat, cucumber and havarti cheese.  We still have cheese left for breakfasts.
  • 4 servings of stir fry, using the chayote, carrots and frozen beef slices that I bought previously.
  • 6 servings of fried rice, using the eggs, carrots, canned corn and shrimp.
I’m also planning on making:
  • 6-8 servings slow cooked pork tenderloin with carrots and possibly other veggies
  • ramen, with shrimp and veggies

After all that, we have $45 for the remaining for these two weeks.  We’ll need to get more bread, fruits and veggies, but I will probably not buy more meat – we still have lots stashed away in the freezer.  If I didn’t have meat in the freezer, I’d probably pick up some cheap 99 cents/lb chicken legs (for baked chicken, stripped for stir fry meat and soup, or fried in marinade) or a large roast (cut into a small roast and slices for stir fry and sandwiches).  I may also have to pick up more milk and cheese, but we’ll see.

How does your grocery budget look this month?

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  1. Jose says:

    Ours is absolutely rocking! My wife, Joel. started a serious couponing project three weeks ago and I am absolutely amazed at the results so far. You can expect to see a post on my blog soon about it.

    • CF says:

      Nice! My enthusiasm for coupons comes and goes – right now we are not doing a lot of couponing because we don’t have much space in our place for canned or boxed goods. Looking forward to the blog post!

  2. As much as I would like to reduce our $800+ grocery budget per month, I immediately notices that you guys eat like birds.

    We’re not overweight, but by no means are we super active… (Food-budget craziness when I rode my bike 1000km/week… 2kg pasta in one meal and still hungry…)

    Even though I’ve dramatically reduced my eating due to a reduced activity level, we would waste away to nothing on such a calorically restricted diet!

    I guess food budget savings are just not in the cards for me or my family.

    • CF says:

      You might be surprised! Brian plays soccer and hockey regularly and I do yoga each week. In better weather, we go running. So almost all of our meals contain meat or some other protein.

      We save a lot of money by not being picky eaters – we avoid pre-made foods, buy seasonal fruits and veggies and whatever meat is on sale and stuffing it in our freezer. Right now, I have a lot of pork tenderloin and ribs, stir fry beef that I butchered myself out of a cheap roast, and various whole fish such as salmon, tilapia and trout. Over time, it means we can just buy what’s on sale and still eat a variety of foods.

      We do spend a lot of money on nice cheeses and honey from the farmers market though… 🙂

  3. That’s impressive you can spend 200 for two of you! I’m $340 for just me, but I’m super picky about what I buy (and suck at cooking). The good news though is I hardly eat out, and that’s a different budget anyway. I’m getting used to my amount..and then just try to cut back in other areas.

    • CF says:

      I think that it’s good to have any budget at all. Once you have that baseline, you can start making small changes to lower it.

      Also – you’re probably not as bad at cooking as you think 🙂 Lots of people get discouraged by complicated recipes. The recipes I enjoy the most usually have only 5 to 10 ingredients and take less than half an hour of work.

    • Leslie says:

      holycrap! $340 in groceries/mo for 1 person! are groceries that expensive in your area of CA? I rarely spend more than $150.

  4. Pauline says:

    Looks healthy and mostly from scratch, pretty low for two people, well done!
    I am trying to keep it at $200 for two as well, $100 for the first 2-3 months this year since our meat and cheese stockpile is huge. Vegetables and common products are super cheap but cheese, alcohol, bacon, and other imported stuff come at a premium here.

    • CF says:

      Haha, I don’t include alcohol in our grocery budget. 🙂 Brian is able to bring home free alcohol at times from his side job at the beer and wine store, which is nice. We have a bag full of free beer in the closet right now actually :S

  5. You’re killing it on the grocery budget – we spend anywhere from $400-$500/month (my groceries are closer to $150, but J spends a LOT).

    • CF says:

      He works in trades, I think you mentioned? I imagine if Brian worked a very physical job, he’d need more calories as well. But I think your $150 is pretty good too!

  6. Nice! I think that’s pretty much how my and the BF spend though it does change sometimes depending on the month.

    • CF says:

      It can change for us too, depending on holidays and such. We usually just add in a bit of spending money if we’re going to be hosting a party or contributing to a family dinner.

  7. Ndy says:

    Actually my grocery budget is $125, just like you, I buy whatever meat/fish/seafood that is on sale. I don’t buy booze, I can get all the booze I want when I visit family on the weekend. Am lucky to have that kind of family that press you to have a drink or two when you come visit them, so I get my alcohol fix then. I buy my veggies frozen, if they are not, I chop them up and freeze then so they last me a long time.I have been trying to cut out as much processed foods/ sugars as much as possible since last year so I cut down on fruits juice ( so much sugar), sugary cookies , ( those are once in a while and I get too much at work). I still treat myself to chocolate once in a while, I love dark chocolate. I usually snack on nuts,lots of apples(they are always in my fridge) popcorn, tortilla chips and hummus. Sound boring but I find that my taste buds have changed to enjoy these things. So far what is left in my grocery budget is 45 dollars. One I find is that I don’t ever have any food waste for sure and I definitely eat all the food I buy.

    • CF says:

      Freezing veggies is a great tip! We do this as well for seasonal veggies and fruit. At the very least, frozen veggies can be used in soups and frozen fruit can be used in smoothies. Like you, I find that having a small grocery budget makes sure I don’t waste food.

  8. You guys are doing so well! My wife and I spend at least $100 a week and that’s with us trying to be good 🙁

    • CF says:

      It really depends on what’s important to your. If you have dietary restrictions or you just prefer certain foods, it really drives the cost up!

      For example, we’ll buy some things organic (potatoes, apples, for example) but we’ll buy the regular soy milk and bananas.

      Maybe one day we’ll allocate more money towards groceries, but right now, debt is a bigger concern for us.

  9. Vicky says:

    Nice work! That’s a pretty good price for the tenderloin; how do you find the meat at Superstore?

    We are trying to aim for $200 a month for the 2 of us as well, but I find that I definitely have to watch prices and know what they cost and when they go on sale.

    • CF says:

      Thanks! Superstore meat is fine, generally. I like chicken from the smaller farm markets markets better (seems fresher, usually), but I don’t really notice a difference with beef and pork.

  10. Ummm… right now I’m eating risotto and salmon wellington. Let’s just say that the original chunk of salmon cost almost as much as your weekly budget per person. In other news, I bought my spouse half of a dead lamb for Valentine’s Day and it’s now safely in the freezer. *gag* Purchases like that make it hard to gauge how much we spend on groceries, though it is several times what you do!

    • CF says:

      Hehe… we do splurge on salmon and even lamb occasionally.

      We tend to buy fresh salmon when it’s in season and freeze it as filets. And lamb we will buy if we’re visiting a farm. We did this when we visited a farm on the island which butchered their own meat and made cheese – it’s quite a bit cheaper!

  11. Leslie says:

    Surprised to see the instant noodles on the list since everything else is relatively fresh/healthy. Do you just throw the seasoning packs away and use the noodles as a base ingredient?

    • CF says:

      Haha, well, everyone has a vice right? 🙂

      We always add fresh veggies and meat to our instant noodles to make them more nutritious. Bean sprouts, watercress and bok choy are excellent topics! We also only use ~half the seasoning package or less, depending on whether we make the noodles with water or homemade stock.

  12. That is AWESOME that you guys are able to keep it at $200/month. So far we are almost at $260 for this month. :S But we eat a LOT. My bf plays hockey and squash and is bigger than I am. I’m tiny in comparison, but both my jobs are physical,especially with the 2nd one being a group exercise instructor, so I have like two dinners: one before my workout and one post-workout. $200 might be a little hard for us, but my goal for next month is going to be between $200-$240. Wish me luck!

    • CF says:

      It’s similar for us actually – Brian is a foot and a bit taller than me and plays a lot of sports. So he eats part of my half of the groceries in addition to his own share, I’m sure lol. But I don’t work a physical job, so it’s in my interest to eat lightly and not get a “programmer’s butt” 😀

  13. Our grocery budget has been a major item of focus for us this year. For my g/f and I we had been spending over $350 just for the two of us. This past month we finally got it down below $300. Hopefully we can get it down to around $200 soon!

    • CF says:

      It’s good that you know how much you spend! It’s much harder to cut back if you don’t keep track of it. I’m sure you guys will make it eventually!

      I think for us, we’ll eventually increase our grocery budget by a bit once our debts are knocked down – we love expensive cheeses…

  14. CT says:

    It is very satisfying to be able to feed your family on less. Groceries are so expensive. You’re doing a great job bringing your food spending down!

  15. kathryn says:

    I am always surprised when people say they wouldn’t be able to eat such small portions.Plates now are much larger than they used to be. Have you ever watched people.They are obese, and many of them probably don’t even realise it.
    $100 month per person is a regular budget.It is not sacrificing anything. Some people equate expensive food with healthy food.
    For the ones who want to reduce your budget, just give yourself that amount of money for the month. You won’t be able to afford as much junk food.After you build your stock pantry up, you probably won’t crave these treats as much.
    I am enjoying this blog very much. Keep up the great work, and inspiration to others.
    My husband and I (aged 48 & 52) are retired and the “millionaires next door type” and you certainly wouldn’t know it by looking at us. We spend each summer in Canada and Australia. While in Australia we camp in our campervan/housesit and still maintain our $100 pp food budget.

    So save the food budget money, pay off your debts, invest in your future..and maybe you will be ‘lucky’ like us.

    • In defense of my $800+/m food budget: Nobody in my household is overweight. Not by American standards, but by international standards. We all maintain healthy weights. (Myself, my wife, and our 2 y/o)

      $100/m per person is impossible where I live. We would be dead. That wouldn’t even cover a month’s worth of calories of canned beans.

      We buy NO junk food, we never eat out (due to allergies/sensitivities) and I make everything home-made. I even make my own soup stocks because bouillon cubes can’t be used due to the aforementioned allergies.

      I buy stuff on sale when we can and load up the chest-freezer.

      I have NO clue as to how I could reduce that monthly figure aside from shopping at 15 different stores, driving all over town and conversely requiring vast amounts of my time and increased monthly travel expenses.

      • CF says:

        @starvingartistcanada – Just curious, where do you live? I admit, it’s relatively easy for us to purchase cheaper foods because we have a lot of ethnic stores and farm markets within walking distance and three major grocery stores less than a 10 minute drive away. With so many options nearby, on our budget, we’re still able to buy quite a few organic and specialty foods.

      • kathryn says:

        Take all the grocery flyers and write down all the products on sale you want.As you see better prices from other flyers, cross it off the other list.At the end, you may need to visit 4 stores, but you know exactly what you want, so run in…and run out. Pick a time when it will be less busy.
        Take the $800 for the first few months, and stock up your pantry. You will see a dramatic reduction after that.
        Don’t forget to include pharmacies. Many times they have great deals, just to get you into the store.

    • CF says:

      @kathryn – Thanks for visiting Kathryn! I love hearing from people who have “made it”. Retired at 48 and 52 sounds AWESOME and it seems like you guys have achieved it the same way Brian and I hope to achieve it as well one day.

      It’s true, we don’t buy much junk food, but even with the $100 per person budget, we still do buy the occasional box of crackers or bucket of ice cream. 😉 It’s hard when you first start budgeting, but as you say, once the pantry builds up, it’s easy to have extra money left over to splurge a bit.

      • kathryn says:

        We do buy ice cream and chips, but not every week.We live in Nova Scotia, and on another thread on your blog, I have given the breakdown (not sure if it has been moderated and posted yet) of a $100 pp month budget.I used the current flyers to base my prices on.
        The more people in the home, the cheaper pp a budget becomes.
        Budgeting is hard for most people. They need to have a goal..such as paying off a credit card really fast.Have a certain amount in the budget as “treats”.Discuss with the family what they want their treat to be.Tell them it is theirs, and it needs to last a month, because once it’s’s gone.
        Go and buy a second hand bread machine at a thrift store/Kijiji/garage sale.Google online how easy it is to make yogurt (if your family eats it alot). Simple recipe for homemade laundry detergent for pennies a load.
        Instead of using disposable bags, buy a sandwich container.Thermos (look for a secondhand older model).
        Currently we are travelling in Australia and where we are staying our meals are included for free.People here complain about the high prices too. On many occassions we buy our own food here, and we still can live on $100pp month.
        We split our time between Australia and Canada..summer all the time 🙂 We didn’t get to retire early buy not watching our pennies.

        • CF says:

          Summer all the time sounds fantastic! I’ve never been to Australia yet – but someday 🙂

          Your other comment might be lost in the spam folder. I’ll have to ask Brian to check because I haven’t seen that comment! I always like hearing how other people manage their food budgets.

  16. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce says:

    Oh man..I cannot believe you can do that on $200!! We live in the northeast US and have a family of 4. We are so proud to only spend $800/month, and that is after a ton of work. I am going to take your list and compare prices and let you know…my head is spinning after reading this!!

    • CF says:

      Haha, yeah have a look and maybe write a post on it 😉

      For the remainder of our $45, I don’t quite remember exactly what we bought, but we did get a few pounds of organic potatoes ($4 at our local farmers market), some honey, some more fruits/veggies and a large beef roast for $10.

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