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Ect., Financial Sense/ Money Matters, Mommy Musings: Thoughts and Opinions, What Do You Think?

My ever increasing grocery bill

Sawyer riding in the cart.

Sawyer riding in the cart.

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.



About Shannon

I am a university educated full-time working mother of four children. Proudly Canadian, I freeze my butt off along with my loving partner, two dogs and a cat. I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I love writing them, but if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.


13 thoughts on “My ever increasing grocery bill

  1. I hear you! My husband just doesn’t understand why we need to spend $1,000 a month to feed a family of four. I told him I could cut that bill in half if he wanted to eat no name hotdogs and no name mac & cheese several nights a week, but if he wants our children to eat healthy, organic, and hormone free food then the bill is what the bill is. Plus, as the boys get older the bill is only going to go higher because they eat like horses. Honest, my boys are asking for food of some sort while they are still loading the dishwasher from dinner. God bless Costco, its the only way I can afford to buy as good a quality stuff as I do.

    Posted by Tina | February 23, 2015, 11:54 am
    • Good for you for taking the effort to make sure your family eats well. I can only imagine what it will be like in the teenage years! Hopefully before then we should own our own house and ensure we have lots of room for storage. Thanks for reading

      Posted by Shannon | February 23, 2015, 12:37 pm
  2. I’m afraid to add up exactly how much we spend, but I’m betting we easily spend 800-1000$ a month too. I don’t clip coupons but we either shop wholesale or I try to limit to things that are on sale or BOGO.

    Posted by Theresa | February 23, 2015, 12:40 pm
    • It’s hard. When I was on Mat leave I was always ordering coupons and making sure I shopped on the right days (ie. Get 20x the points at shoppers) buy when you work full time you have to cut corners somewhere. It’s nice to know that at least we are not the only ones. Cheers Theresa

      Posted by Shannon | February 23, 2015, 12:52 pm
  3. It is so hard. I’m all for reward cards because I’ve also received many, many dollars off a grocery bill. My go-to place to shop is our local Longo’s and buying on special, BOGO or using those points is great. Wish we had a Superstore closer to our place! Would love to be able to also include the clothes and bigger box items. I do try to hit a wholesale place once every two – three months and stock up on certain items and that helps. We just got the third out of diapers a year ago and I found that alone was a huge savings. I am the one dish kind of parent though for dinner. I don’t have the patience or time to cook five different meals for everyone. I just try to have variety of food available on the table so if X kid doesn’t like the main, well there are always fresh veggies and cheese available along with pasta or rice they can eat. Having a general menu plan can help too cut down on wasted food. If the kids know ahead of time what’s for dinner, they can prep themselves if they don’t like it. We’re also pretty strict about if you don’t clean your plate, (including a bit of the main) no dessert. That little scoop of Breyer’s ice cream and store bought cookies are a real incentive. I’m at home and cut corners, we all do what we have to with the time we’ve got! I would say for five people (plus pets) your grocery bill is bang on.

    Posted by rhhouse | February 23, 2015, 1:38 pm
    • Thanks! That’s great to hear. It’s a challenge with my kids because they are so young and I want to make sure they eat. Plus it’s a little complicated because my twins and I are vegetarian and my son and husband are not (mind you my son just announced he was becoming a vegetarian yesterday so we will see how that goes). Mind you, my husband works nights so he isn’t there for dinner anyways except on weekends when he works days. And you are right, once the twins get out of diapers well that will be a huge savings. I plan to start training them in May on my vacation so we will see how that goes. Thanks for stopping by.

      Posted by Shannon | February 23, 2015, 2:34 pm
  4. If it helps, we easily spend $1000 a month on groceries and household items too. We make many of our own soaps and detergents but not because I have all this magical extra time on my hands, instead it’s out of necessity because I have extremely sensitive skin and even the free and clear versions have too many chemicals in them. Anyway, my kids love helping with making these things as well as getting some of those snacks cooked on the weekends to set up for the week. It’s a wonderful form of multitasking, cooking and spending time with them 🙂 As for meals, we cook enough variety of different cuisines that each person’s preference gets a turn. We cook one dinner and serve small portions we wouldn’t feel guilty about being wasted. Everyone gets more if they want it. We don’t offer alternatives. Period. Pink, my most stubborn eater will completely skip dinner some nights. That’s her choice. We don’t demand that they scrape their plates clean but we do require they eat what’s in front of them. And since nothing we eat is too outrageous or mature for a kids palate, it doesn’t seem like too awful of a rule.

    Posted by Princess Mommy | February 24, 2015, 7:26 am
  5. Reblogged this on Explore America with Kids and commented:
    I am a mom of five, who has gone through many food shopping/necessity shopping changes over the last 30 years! Now it is just my 19 year old, my 11 year old and me. The bills are definitely less, but it costs a lot to buy fresh food. We feel better for it though, and we are definitely at the doctor less.

    Posted by Carol Loves to Travel | March 25, 2015, 12:12 pm
  6. My household currently includes myself, hubby, our 20-year-old, a teenager (17) and an 11 year old (plus one shaggy 45 pound schnauzer). In summer, we have an extra teen who stays with us. We spend more on food than on our mortgage. That said, I have reduced the bill by nearly 20% by doing the most counter-intuitive thing EVER… I stopped buying anything at Costco and stopped trying to stockpile dry goods when they were on sale. I shop once a week and the only deals I take advantage of are the points card savings that come from Superstore. Even though it seemed like I was “Saving” money when I went to Costco, the actual bill was hundreds of dollars sometimes. It almost always included at least one item that wasn’t on my list and at least some of the time things either went stale (because how long can a giant cereal box really last once it has been opened!?!) or we just got sick of eating it (giant salsa tubs!). Once I stopped doing these big trips to Costco, the shopping also seemed like less of an ordeal… just my experience, but I recommend trying it for a month or two and seeing if you have the same results.

    Posted by kim scaravelli | March 30, 2015, 11:20 am
    • Thanks so much for sharing. I definitely look for value but I want my family to eat well and even if that means paying more it’s worth it. Being sick, I have realized you should never take your health for granted. Best wishes.

      Posted by Shannon | March 30, 2015, 11:25 am
  7. This rings loud and clear for me. I too have 3 littles and work full time. I agree I’d rather spend my time doing fun things with the kids than stuck in the kitchen or cleaning all the time. 😉

    Posted by mirskiles | April 30, 2015, 5:27 pm

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