I posted earlier this month about my seemingly out of control spending on groceries. Now that we have reached the end of the month, I have some nice progress to report.
Quick review- in August, for two people, we spent $628.26 on groceries. To be clear, that was just groceries. No eating out, no fast food, and no household items. Seems like way too much money to me.
Now the good news- for the month of September, we managed to spend only $195.83. How did we do that? I’m not sure if I know exactly what made the difference, maybe we just got lucky, but I will try to share all the details I can think of now.
My first trip to the grocery store this month was very different than it used to be. I actually have fun shopping for groceries and because I like to cook I tend to spend a lot of time looking for specific, hard-to-find items that I may have seen on a cooking show or heard recommended somewhere- almost like a kid in a candy store, but with produce and spices.Â 🙂 Â This time, I didn’t allow myself to do that. I stuck with the list I had prepared and I didn’t always look for the ‘best’ items. I spent quite a lot of time comparing prices across different brands and doing some quick math to figure out what was the best deal per unit. I also brought an envelope full of coupons and made sure to use them all (can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought coupons with me and simply forgot to use them).
I saw results right away after taking this new approach. The bill was much lower than I had expected for the amount of food that I purchased. I also made sure to pick up items that I knew could go a long way for little expense (bags of rice and beans for example).
The other change I made was to focus on eating what was already at home. Yeah, that probably sounds obvious, but I would always go out and buy more food when I already had a lot to eat at home and this often led to me throwing away a lot of food.
That’s about it really. All it took was some effort. Instead of just walking through the grocery store with only a vague idea of what I needed, and grabbing what looked good along the way, I planned ahead, I stuck to my plan, and I really labored over every extra penny I had to spend. For example, we wanted a little Mac and Cheese (not healthy and the stuff in the box is really awful compared to home-made in my opinion but my wife likes it). First I looked at the Kraft brand, it was $0.99 per box. Then I found some generic brand for about $0.70 per box. I thought I had found a winner until I looked a little further down the shelf…and there it was! The cheapest of the cheap, $0.33 per box for Mac and Cheese. That’s a huge price difference and there is very little taste difference, if any.
Ultimately, if I want to lose weight, I can’t afford to be eating cheap food that is loaded with empty carbohydrates and lots of sodium. I really want to explore how to prepare my own foods at home, make them as healthy as I can, and do that while still spending less money. In my mind, I have always equated eating healthy with spending a lot of money on groceries, but I suspect that isn’t really true. Look for more on that some day. For now, I will take the $432 saved on groceries and throw it at the debt snowball.