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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Total Expenses on Groceries this Past Month- Breakdown and Analysis

I must admit that I've been feeling very lazy lately. The summer heat does that to me, as does not getting enough sleep... So that's why, although I've had this data for the past few weeks, I haven't actually written up the breakdown and analysis of our grocery bills for the last month we recorded- from June 23-July 22...
But finally, here I am, plugging away the numbers and doing the concentrating that I haven't been in the mood for.
 photo graph_zps58d2d941.png
For the record, I decided to take a break from recording exact grocery expenses... I haven't been tracking our groceries this past month, other than keeping a very rough idea in my head. I will start tracking again, perhaps in September, perhaps in October... Who knows. But for now, sharing the data from the last month.

First off, the grand total- $508.32. I have to say I'm very surprised. I thought it would be much higher than that, especially since I wasn't able to go shopping in my usual super cheap places this month for various reasons, but even so it was low. It definitely can be lower, as you will see in the breakdown, but I'm happy that after two higher months, we're on a downward trend. I hope it continues.

If you take a look on the graph in the upper right hand side of the post, you can see how our grocery expenditure has fluctuated, but now seems to be on a downward trend...

So, how does it break down?
Of the $508.32 on groceries....

From greatest to least...

Total animal proteins: $152.79, of which...
  • Meat/poultry- $47.69 
  • Fish- $43.61 
  • Dairy- $41.35 
  • Eggs- $20.14 
Total produce- $81.54
  • Fresh- $60.46 
  • Canned- $11.40 
  • Frozen- $5.14 
  • Dried- $4.54 
Dry goods- $53.49
Junk- $39.98
Sweeteners- $34.43
Processed foods for meals- $32.24
Drinks- $31.14
Non food items- $31.13
Vegan proteins- $26.02
Spice/seasonings- $14.6
Condiments- $10.96

Starting with the meat $47.69 on meat/poultry, which is $17 more than the $30.69 I spent last month on that category... it covered 11.68 lbs of chicken (whole chicken, chicken wings, and chicken breast), a 4 pack of (not so bad for you) hot dogs, as well as deli meat which I bought as travel food to eat on a family trip ($16.26). Looking at the numbers, other than the trip food, we spent the same as last month on meat. We ran out of meat though- that wasn't enough to last more than a month...
Fish, we spent $43.61, $15.72 more than last month's $27.89. This covered 13.68 lbs of frozen fish (cod, tuna, flounder, sole, and hake) and 4 cans of tuna. While we had more fish this month than we usually do, we still have a lot of fish left in our freezer from that shop.
Dairy, we spent $41.35, $15 more than last month's dairy... This covered 13 liters of milk and 16 containers of cottage cheese... That milk, that milk... need to cut the cereal and milk for breakfast habit... or at the very least, buy it at a cheaper place...
We bought 6 dozen eggs for $20.14- I'm totally content with this. We didn't use so many eggs, in my opinion, and bought them at a relatively cheap place. I would like to try to consistently buy it at a place that is even cheaper in future months.
All in all, I would like to lower the amount we spend on animal proteins... I'm working on creating more vegan recipes my family loves so they won't complain if I make more vegan meals.


Next up on the list is produce- $81.54 total, $25.57 more than last month's $55.97. This included $11.40 on 10 cans of produce (tomato paste, corn, mushrooms), $5.14 on 3 lbs of frozen green beans, and $4.54 on a package of dried pineapple (totally a splurge).
The rest of the money- $60.46, was spent on fresh produce. This was the biggest casualty of my more expensive shopping this month. Since I was unable to get to the farmer's market, where I can get super cheap produce from the "reduced rack" stall there and often free produce as well, and instead I had to make do with what was at the local, more expensive stores, I ended up getting less produce for more money- 163 lbs of fresh produce for $60.46- averaging out to 37 cents a pound, instead of last month's 357 lbs of produce for $50.82- averaging out to 14 cents a pound. And if I don't count the free stuff I got, last month I paid for 175 pounds of produce, averaging out to 24 cents a pound.
I know, I know, some people would be thrilled to get produce as cheaply as I can get it... but still, as a family who goes through a lot of produce, these higher prices make a difference...
The fresh produce I got included: cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, mangoes, peaches, potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, carrots, onions, pumpkin, radishes, kohlrabi, beets, corn on the cob, tomatoes, swiss chard, cabbage, cilantro, and dill.

For dry goods, we spent $53.49 this month on 53 lbs of food, $16.52 more than last month's $36.97, but I have no issues with that, since it was a stocking up month. It included 33 lbs of various types of rice (brown, short grain, white rice), 4 packages of gluten free pasta (corn and rice), 5.75 lbs coconut, and 8.8 lbs popcorn.

Spent a lot of money on junk... again. $39.98, $8.68 more than last month's $31.30... We seem to be at a constant, fluctuating around this same mark each month on junk... Don't seem to be managing to lower it... Not sure what to do about that. Not buying any junk simply ain't happening... $26.69 of the amount was on chocolate (bars, chips, coins, mint chocolate), and the rest on marzipan, freeze pops, candies, and halva. I consider the freeze pops a valuable outlay, since via keeping cool with freeze pops, we're able to manage the heat better without the AC and even without fans much of the time.

We spent $34.43 on sweeteners- $16.87 more than last month's $17.56. This included 8.8 lbs of white sugar (mainly for kombucha making), 1 bottle of molasses, and 8.8 lbs of jaggery. This was a stocking up of jaggery, and we still have much of it left, at least half, probably closer to three quarters of it. No issue with this, and I'm not looking for ways to lower it. Using jaggery in place of honey or date syrup is already cheaper, and because of that, we're spending less altogether on sweeteners since I'm almost exclusively using jaggery syrup now instead of honey.

We spent $32.24 on processed foods used for meals- a good $17.92 less than last month's $50.16. This covered a box of gluten free cereal, a few bags of chips for my husband to eat at work, plus a big (and expensive $10.85) box of gluten free crackers that we brought along on a trip to eat, so that's partially trip expenses and less standard groceries. I'm cool with how much we spent on this, not looking to lower it.

This month, $31.14 was spent on drinks. This covered 3 bottles of drink, 3 bottles of grape juice, and 2 bottles of high alcohol content distilled drinks (similar to vodka) that are made locally. I wanted to use them to make tinctures, and they're much cheaper than vodka usually, and I found them at a scratch and dent store so they were much cheaper than they usually were. In the future, I'd like to make my own grape juice and drinks, but I have no issue with how much I spent on the alcohol.

For non food items, we spent $31.13, a good $29.74 less than last month's $60.87 spent in the same category. This covered a package of diapers, candles, freezer bags, aluminum foil, baking paper, and dish soap. I would like to get this lower. Hopefully Anneliese will be fully potty trained soon and we can knock off the diaper expense completely, and I've found a cheaper source of the dish soap brand my husband likes to use, so we'll switch to that.

Vegan proteins- we spent $26.02 this month, $12.76 more than last month's $13.26, and I'm happy about that- that was my plan. I wanted to spend more on vegan proteins, and buy more to use instead of the more expensive animal products. This covered a liter of almond milk, plus 7.5 lbs of legumes including 3 pounds of peanut butter, sesame seeds, lentils, kidney beans, and navy beans. I'm still looking for a cheaper source of all natural peanut butter... And typically I make my own almond milk instead of buying it, so that's another way I can lower it...

For spice/seasonings I spent $14.60- this including coriander seeds, all natural banana flavored extract, and all natural butter flavored extract. No complaints here. Though in the future, I should check to see if Iherb.com has the extracts I want for a better price than I bought them.

And last but not least, we spent $10.96 on condiments. This includes 2 jars of dijon mustard, one bottle of ketchup my husband bought cheaply, and a bottle of gluten free soy sauce. I'd like to lower this. I really would like to get a good recipe for homemade dijon mustard- one time I made it and it came out great, and all other times I made it, the mustard was vile and bitter tasting. If I had a good recipe that was fail safe, I'd only make it and never buy it any more. Suggestions please?
I also would like to try to keep the house stocked with homemade ketchup so my husband won't be tempted to buy ketchup, sale or not... And I ordered Braggs Liquid Aminos from Iherb.com, because a) it's cheaper than the local gluten free soy sauce b) the local stuff is filled with lots of junk, like sugar, caramel food coloring, etc... And the Braggs is a big bottle, so hopefully it should last us a while.

So, there you have it.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with how it went. Especially since this was during a time that I couldn't shop in my usual cheap places.

How's your grocery tracking going? Are you spending more or less now on groceries than you were last month or the month before that? What are you doing to try to lower your expenses?

12 comments:

  1. I live in Malaysia, and I don't restrict much of my shopping choices at all. In fact, I don't fill the diet of myself or my three children with cheap calories from bread, rice, and starchy vegetables, as I try to keep their eating at home relatively carbohydrate free. This means that the food is more expensive because healthy fats are more expensive than almost any other category of food. We spend around MYR$1200 or USD$375 each month.

    I am impressed that you manage to keep your costs so low in the US though.

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    1. I don't live in the US.

      I agree with you, starches are much cheaper than produce or animal products... And gluten is cheaper than gluten free. And refined sugars cheaper than non refined sugars. Oh well... its the price we pay for eating healthier...

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  2. Where I live it is wine making time. I can get muscat grapes in the farmers market, mix with sugar, let stand for 40 days, and have wine for a year. It's not fine dining, but it meets our religious needs. When I have energy I also make grape juice from the same grapes, pasteurize, skim the scum off the top, and freeze for the year. It brings the cost down somewhat. But I'm really exchanging my labor for reduction in cost. When wine and grape juice go on sale here it is usually cheaper to buy the cheap stuff than for me to make it. But I know there are no added sugars and coloring or preservatives when I make it.

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    1. We're lucky in that we usually can get grapes free from a neighbor's vine... Unfortunately it doesnt look like the best year for grapes, so i'm not sure we'll be making our own wine this year...

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  3. $508 on groceries for a family of six is impressive- we probably spend slightly less for a family of three. we'll see how it goes up as we become more people. we're located in your metro area, but i'm lucky enough to work near the cheap supermarkets and live near the "farmer's market".

    what i'm very curious about is what percentage of your monthly income it is. you don't seem to work outside the house (much, at least), and you say your husband is home by lunchtime- do you really support six people with only one part-time job between the two of you?

    oh yeah- i calculated (using gross figures) that ice pops are a much better investment than using a fan. the price of buying and freezing one of those little pops (assuming a 50% efficient freezer- huge margin) is about the cost of running an average fan for under a minute. cool!

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    Replies
    1. I work part time from home, etc..., my husband works a full work week, he just starts really early in the morning and gets home mid afternoon, in time for a late lunch. I'd rather not say my total income, but yes, were really living off of very little. We're supporting the family on one low paying full time income and one part time income.

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    2. And cool for calculating the price of freeze pops vs the fan...

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    3. i forgot that you might want to factor in the number of minutes it takes a kid to eat a freeze pop vs. how many people can be cooled at once in front of a fan. you want a result in units of "price per person-cool-minute".

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  4. That is a very decent number for your purchases! I do wonder though, do you ever make your own products? Things like ketchup, Dijon and yellow mustard, BBQ sauce and snacks are pretty easy to make (in bulk) and store. *I am not criticizing* I am just looking at this list like the northeastern (US) native I am, we tend to lean to the do-as-much-as-possible-yourself mentality, mostly out of necessity. Though I also understand that this way of life is just not compatible with everyone's life and schedule.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I mentioned within the post: "I really would like to get a good recipe for homemade dijon mustard- one time I made it and it came out great, and all other times I made it, the mustard was vile and bitter tasting. If I had a good recipe that was fail safe, I'd only make it and never buy it any more. Suggestions please?"
      And as for ketchup, I almost always make it from scratch, I just didnt one time and my husband went out and bought a bottle.
      You must be new to my blog- I'm big into making things from scratch- I buy nearly no processed foods. :-D

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  5. Is halva gluten free? I thought it had flour in it.

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    Replies
    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halva According to this, there are two types of halva- some grain based, and some nut based. I'd never known that there was a grain based one. The one I had was sesame seed based, and is gluten free.

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