That moment when you get to the cash register and realize you have spent $450 dollars for what you hope is two weeks worth of groceries.
I shop sales, clip coupons, use my |PC Points and get my groceries at the Real Canadian Superstore (which I think has the best prices for what I need) but it seems like every trip seems to get more and more expensive.
When I was single and buying groceries for myself I would buy whatever I wanted, spending about $200 for two weeks. Lots of food would go to waste and I always felt silly cooking dinners for just myself. I couldn’t wait to have a family because I believed that I would actually save money (value wise). I could buy in bulk, there would be no leftovers and nothing would go bad before it was eaten.
As I paid for today’s groceries I realized that this philosophy was not quite right. Now we have a family of five (plus two dogs and a cat) and it’s expensive. So I decided to take a look at my bill and try to figure out why we spend so much money. Doesn’t mean I can change it, but at least I can figure out why.
1. The kids waste a lot of food. With two hungry dogs roaming around (or at least they believe they are starving) the kids easily shove off food to them. Plus there are the times when the kids feel “artistic” and play with their food/make a mess instead of eating it. Then there is my favourite the I want X, then you make X, and then they don’t want it anymore. You can see my article entitled Why the F@$K Won’t You Eat for more on that.
2. The kids don’t like the same things. My visions of cooking one large delicious meal are out the window (at least at this point) because there is no one big meal that everyone will eat. Even if I can get the majority to eat one thing I will still have to make something else. Ditto for snacks. I guess in my mind I never accounted for the fact that no two people have the same taste in cuisine (not even the twins).
3. I try to buy healthy food as much as I can. I spend tons of money on fresh fruit and vegetables. When it comes to processed foods President’s Choice has something called Blue Menu which provides low sodium, low-fat, high fibre etc. options. While reasonably priced, and often less than some brand names, it’s still not as cheap as the No Name crap.
4. I am a full-time working mother. That means I leave the house at 6:45am and don’t get home until 6:00pm. I just don’t have a lot of time to spend cooking and baking. Even if I do have time to cook on the weekend, I still have to by pre-packaged snacks for my son’s lunches and snack time. Sure I could spend my whole Saturday cooking and freeze it but you know what? I think it’s more important to spend the time with my kids, even if it means I have to spend more at the grocery store to buy pre-prepared or easy to prepare foods. Also because I am always on the go I am always buying snack type stuff for me too.
5. I only shop every two weeks. Similar to the reasoning above, I don’t want to spend my life at the grocery store so I only do a big shop every two weeks and a small (bread and milk) shop on the other weekend. To achieve this I have to make sure the food will last for two weeks. So while I buy fresh apples for the first week, I also buy some applesauce for the second week.
6. Our kitchen sucks! We only have one fridge and it is smaller than normal so you can barely fit anything in it. We have only one food cupboard plus a pantry we purchased. It is virtually impossible to stock up on anything because we can barely fit what we are going to consume in the immediate future. I would like to get another pantry and a freezer would be ideal but since we are just renting and saving for a new home and car they are on the wish list right now.
7. My grocery bill isn’t just groceries. The bill also includes things like diapers, wipes, diaper genies, make-up, clothes, and whatever else I needed. I love going to the Superstore because it has more than just food and especially because Joe Fresh makes awesome kids clothes and their prices are great. I never get to go shopping at a mall or even Walmart is tough so this is my little piece of fun. Because we are vegetarian we need the selection that you can’t get at say a No Frills or Food Basics and I love PC products. Plus, every time I shop I get PC points which I use towards groceries (in 16 months I have gotten $300 worth of free stuff).
8. I am a full-time working mother. Oh yeah, I mentioned that but it also applies to those DIY things like make your own laundry detergent or baby wipes. I don’t have time for that stuff between cleaning, caring for the kids, walking the dogs, etc. Oh, and having kids and pets does mean I spend a lot of money on cleaners! LOL
Hmm. So I am not sure as to whether I am just making excuses for myself or whether I need to rethink this whole shopping thing. Then again, is $1000 a month unreasonable for a household our size? Maybe not. I guess things will change as the kids get older too, so maybe I just need to ride this one out.
What do you think? Do you have any tips or tricks for managing the grocery budget (not the obvious but something creative)? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.