March 27 - a boring grocery budgeting post

So I did it.  For the whole month of March, I have used cash only for groceries.  I kept it in a (fairly ratty, now) envelope stuffed with change and receipts and even though all that's left in there is change (as in $3.15 in coins) and we still have 4 days left (and a few definite grocery needs in the fruit and dairy departments), I technically still have $18.15 left because I snatched 15 bucks out of the envelope for other things here and there.

So tomorrow I shall go to the store for milk (about $4 for a 1/2 gallon) and butter (about $4) and half and half ($2.50ish) and apples (we'll see) and perhaps a snack or two (well, maybe) and just maybe we'll make it.  Of course the beginning amount was kind of arbitrary anyway, but still, I like a challenge.  I started the month with $325 in that envelope.  It seemed a reasonable amount for a family of 3 who eats most of their meals at home.  I've spent $306.85 (ish) so far and I've learned a few things:

*Even with this budgeting stuff, I am hard pressed to do any real menu planning.  I think that I need a big chalkboard painted on part of our kitchen wall in order to motivate me in that direction.  Really, I just want to paint part of one wall with chalkboard paint and this sounds like a good reason why.... I'm sure for a week or so I'd be into writing our meals up there and pretending we live in some funky restaurant, but just maybe I could stick with it.

*I think it's fair to not count beer in your grocery budget.  I did count it in ours this month, but I'm just saying.  It's not like we drink a lot of beer around here, but we like the good stuff and so a 12 pack of local seasonal ale along with a 22oz of another good local brew (and maybe there was an unaccounted-for 6 pack of Sierra Nevada Stout when uncle Kevin was in town?) easily set us back $15 to $20.

Just saying.  Because think of all we save by not buying our beer elsewhere.  And by generally considering "entertainment" to be a couple beers and a game of bananagrams or a movie at home.

*Coffee does count.  I wanted it not to, but couldn't really justify it.  We happen to also like good coffee, and so the pound or so (see? not too much) we went through this month (purchased at our local coffee roaster/shop) came to about $15 as well.

*Mike thinks grocery budgeting is silly.  He thinks it means not enough snacks (in boxes and bags) and a wife who gives him the evil eye as he inhales $20 worth of juice and snacks in one sitting.  His wife thinks perhaps he just needs to modify his snacking and drinking habits.  Water, really, is quite wonderful my dear.

*We probably don't really overspend on groceries all that much when I'm not consciously trying to budget.  I don't feel like my shopping habits were drastically changed this month, just a bit more conscientious in terms of using what we already had on hand and planning a bit here and there.

*Given our preference for buying organic produce and dairy and locally raised meats, it's a good thing we have the wonderful Amazing Savings (a discount grocery store specializing in mostly natural/organic food that was either overstocked elsewhere, banged up a bit, or approaching it's 'sell by' dates, etc) to help balance out the otherwise steep bills.  If I was buying someone's boxes and bags of somewhat healthy snacks at the grocery store or large health food store, we'd be spending half our budget on that alone!

what fun.

(Claire and I are packing up and heading north on Saturday morning for several days and I am sure Mike is going to thoroughly enjoy not having me around 'budgeting groceries' for most of next week!)


  1. I'm impressed. Not the least of which is because we spend *way* more than that in any given month... But a question: did you include TP and such in your budget, or was that separate? And Mike gets some meals at the station, yes? I have a love/hate relationship with this topic :)

    1. It is a weird topic, I think..... On one hand, I want to not overspend on things in an effort to use more basic staples and use what's on hand before adding more to it, therefore being less wasteful overall. (I can be bad about buying a bunch of stuff and just shoving other things to the back.) On the other hand, I think that spending a fair amount of your monthly income on decent, nutritious food is important. We tend to live below our means in many ways, and so grocery budgeting isn't usually a huge concern for us, but over the last few months I felt like I was spending too much too often so that was my main motivation to rein it in for a month and see where we were at. I think in a typical month I spend at least another $75-$100.

      I did count toilet paper. We ran out of some pricier things this month that I think are usually more spread out.... maple syrup, toilet paper (pricier only because I only ever buy it in the big packs) and honey, to name a few. I counted coffee, beer, dish soap..... I did not count the $13 package of disposable diapers (gasp!) that I purchased. Nor did I count what Mike spends when he is at work. And yes, he does eat many meals there. He brings a lot from home, but usually for at least one meal a day there is a run to either a restaurant or the grocery store while at the station. That would probably account for at least another $75 over the month.

      More than anything it was an experiment, I guess. In mindfulness and in resourcefulness. If I had to eat only rice and beans for a month, I could. But I'm glad that I don't have to, for sure.


thanks for taking the time to read and comment~