Monday, December 08, 2008

Grocery Budget Backsliding

Back in August, I challenged myself to feed my family of five for $125 per week. Four weeks, average weekly spending: $115.14 It wasn't tough, just required planning. Didn't have to cut back on much; still had room for a few indulgences each week.

Kept it going in September, but relaxed it to a $150/week target.

October, still did pretty well.

Then came the visiting relatives, half marathon, extra projects for work, loads of kid activities, school volunteering, and training for the second half marathon. Time was at a premium. Weekly planning went out the window.

My supermarket spending in November? $1,080.

After picking my jaw up from the floor, I started checking receipts. Subtracted dog food, toiletries, cleaning supplies and other non-food, household items. $862. That's over $215 per week.

How did I not see this coming?
  • Produce is becoming more expensive, now that summer is over. There's also been a general uptick in prices over all, if I compare prices to receipts from several months ago.
  • My bulk items at Whole Foods - not the issue, but the other shopping I do while I'm at WF, adds up.
  • Cheese binge - $47 in one week (Granted, the cheese was consumed over 2-3 weeks, and made us all happy.)
  • Shopping, other than Thanksgiving dinner, was done without planning. Did not purchase more packaged food, just more food in general, without having checked what was already in the pantry.
This month, I'm back to lists. Still busy, so I'm only planning about three days at a time, but that will make a tremendous difference in my shopping. I'm also going to make a trip to the Dekalb Farmers Market, to stock up on all the staples and spices. The lower prices for bulk items there will more than make up for a couple gallons of gas and the time it takes to get across town.

Another benefit of heading to the Farmers Market? Instant field trip for kids. The ceiling is covered with flags from all over the world. There is also so much to see in the world of food. Exotic fruits and veggies, which I can usually get the kids to try, if they are there to pick it out. Tanks of live fish. The bakery. The coffee roaster. The roasting and grinding of nut butters. A cheese selection much broader than at any other store, at lower prices.

Yes, I'm back to the cheese. And tart apples. And grapes. I think it's snack time.

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