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Saving $$ on Groceries

October 16th, 2008 at 11:36 am

Today I calculated that since retiring in late August, my grocery bill is averaging between $100 and $115 a week, not including household items such as paper towels, soap, etc. It also does not include dining out. Before I retired, our average grocery bill was at around $575-600 a month plus we spent about $200 dining out. While I am definitely spending less than when I worked, I don't know if my spending is high, average, or low for two people.

What have I done differently that has resulted in savings? To start with, in September, I took an inventory of the pantry and freezer. Unfortunately, I had to throw out a few expired cans and some items in the freezer that were freezer burned. I used some food before it expired, so this was a savings, but then I replaced them and stocked up on staples.

Another money saver is that I now make weekly menus. The impact? We are not only saving money, we are also eating healthier. I am buying more fresh vegetables and fruits and have reduced our consumption of red meat. At least once a week, I try to make a hearty soup and this provides leftovers for lunch, too. It helps that I like to cook and have fun creating menus, using some items already in my pantry.

My shopping trips are now far more efficient than when I worked. I go to the store less frequently and I always take a list. So far, I am keeping Costco runs to about once a month and trips to the grocery store to about every 10 days. When I worked, I'd hit the store on the way home and buy things I already had at home (but didn't know it). I also frequently shopped when I was hungry or tired... not a good idea.

When I worked, we ate out about 3 times a week, mostly because I was too tired to cook at the end of a hectic day. It was about convenience. Now we might dine out once a week, if that. Since I have time to cook, and I enjoy it, I am only too happy to do so. Lately, it seems dining out is mostly brunch or lunch on weekends, either before or after we go to the movies or some other activity.

My next challenge is to learn how to get better at using coupons to save money, much like Retire@50 does. I definitely can improve in this area, and I think I can still reduce our grocery bill some. But I am very happy with my savings so far. I am curious... what do you spend on groceries and for how many people?

10 Responses to “Saving $$ on Groceries”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    We allot $900 per month for three adults, but that includes all household purchases. We tend not to use it all; in September we had about $120 left over and used it for dining out. Sometimes we do use it all, when we need something more expensive such as a new water filtration device for our kitchen sink, or a new vacuum cleaner, or if we buy food for a party.

    We hardly ever eat out; maybe a couple times a month, and it usually comes from our weekly spending allowance. Any wine or alcohol we buy for home also comes out of our personal allowances.

  2. nance Says:

    About fifty dollars, a week. We have three adults here for dinner, but two for breakfast and one or two for lunch.
    I make everything from scratch, and buy loss leaders as much as possible. We eat a lot of elk and hamburger in dishes like spaghetti, chili, burritos, etc. We just bought a whole pork loin, and buy bottom round steak,on sale, for French dip and London broil. Naturally, you don't eat steak on our budget, but occasionally we do splurge. We don't eat out much, either.
    I rarely use coupons because I buy store brands, and make my own cleaning products.

  3. Analise Says:

    @ nance - Wow! It is impressive that you spend only $50 a week for three people. You are a smart shopper, and I can see I still have a lot to learn.

  4. LuckyRobin Says:

    We spend $250 every four weeks on groceries for 2 adults, a twelve year old and an eight year old. But my husband is gone 2 weeks out of every four and they feed him all meals at work for free (he lives on site when he's there), so I reckon it'd be about $400 if he was here all the time. We also spend about $200 (yikes!) a month eating out. We're cutting back on that now though. I cook a lot from scratch, but we do have some frozen meals when the price drops enough for me to buy something I couldn't make well myself for a comparable price, or for a cheaper price, like the 5 for $10 pizzas or the $1 Swedish meatballs.

  5. monkeymama Says:

    We have averaged about $450/month (including household items) BUT has been hitting closer to $500 the last couple of months with rising costs. For 4 of us & the cat.

    BUT I just had to add - it sounds like quite an improvement you have had. For us, it is a work in progress. We started eating in (substantially more) 6 years ago when I became pregnant for the first time and it has taken time to get this skilled at grocery shopping and menu planning. Our bills have been mostly been going down steadily over the last 6 years. Still learning, really. IT really is an art. Just keep chugging!

    P.S. I am afraid if anything would happen to my hubby our bills would skyrocket. I do not understand this art in the least. Wink

  6. Analise Says:

    @ monkeymamma - I forgot to add that another savings strategy for me is to shop w/o my DH. We ALWAYS spend more when he is with me.

    Oh, and our food bill also includes TC, the cat.

  7. ceejay74 Says:

    Monkeymama's right--it's a process. We never used to have money left over, but now we could easily cut back in that category if we needed to. I like having the wiggle room in case there are surprise household expenses, but it's nice knowing we could feed ourselves on much less.

  8. CheapCindy Says:

    $250 a month for two adults. We use coupons, make our own cleaning supplies and we're vegetarian. We try to buy organic when we can. We eat out three times a month and spend about $50 - again using coupons.

  9. MileHighGirl Says:

    I guess we're pretty average. My DH and I spend about $250 a month. But we buy most things organic, so I like to think I stretch the dollar as those things get pricey. I buy things on sale, clearance, in season and we both pack lunches for work. Going out for dinner is about once or twice a month, but we do get drinks with friends and coworkers at least once a week too.

  10. retire@50 Says:

    I spend about $30/week for groceries and $5 for personal care, paper towels, cleaning supplies. ect. I get a lot of that kind of thing free. I budget $20 a week for eating out and eat out one or two times a week. Since I've retired I have more time to find the deals and be organized to use the coupons more effectively. My spending has gone down and I hope it will go lower still on groceries.

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