My grocery bill needs to go on a diet

food_receipt_shutterstock_39006397Recently, we had a meeting with a financial advisor.  Although we are in very good shape, my husband, Nick, thinks we are “financially flabby”.

As the main shopper in the house, I feel this comes back to me.  As we were driving to the meeting, I said to Nick, “Why do I have the feeling I am going to be beat up here?” I justify my spending by saying we make good money, our kids don’t play hockey and we rarely eat out, or go anywhere for that matter.  I think we are doing all right.  You gotta live!

The first thing the advisor asks me when it comes to our spending habits is the grocery bill.

“Why are you spending $1300 a month on groceries?”

Whoa!  I suddenly feel that I am the subject of an intervention on that Debt Do Us Part show.  Is Gail Vaz-Oxlade going to strut out from around the corner with the camera crew? Do I really spend that much?  I never really took much notice.  I just  load up the cart and pay by Visa.  He asks a few more questions:

“Do you buy all organic?”


“Do you shop at Whole Foods?”

“There isn’t a Whole Foods within 50 miles of our house.”

“Do you buy a lot of prepackaged foods?”

“Not really…”

And all of those answers are true.  I don’t buy all organic or shop at an expensive store.  And I stopped buying a lot of pre made foods last year in an attempt to prepare healthier meals for my family.

So why is my bill so high?

I retrace my steps…four days prior, I had to go grocery shopping.  I went to a discount chain, not an upscale one, and loaded up.  I needed a lot of basics as well as our usual weekly consumables such as bread, milk, OJ, fruit and veg.  My total was $167.00.

Three days later, I had to go back.  This is generally my weekly routine:  one big shop and one or two extra little shops.  We were out of our consumables.  I spent another $40 because, on top of the consumables, I realized we also needed ice cream, a frozen pizza and chips for the “kids”.

I also went out to buy meat from a local farm store.  Yes, it is more expensive, but I have a hard time buying no-name meat with a 30% off sticker on it from the discount place.  That rung me up $40.

So yeah, for my family of four I am spending about $250 – $300 a week, which is $1000 – $1300 a month.

But here is my justification;  we rarely eat out.  The food I buy suffices for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert most of the time.  My husband and I pack lunches for ourselves for work.  The kids bring a packed lunch to school.

I asked my friend last night what she spends a month on food.  She has a husband and one 12 year old daughter in her house.  She said on average, $400.  I almost fell off my chair.  How can our one extra body (a 9 year old boy, mind you) set us back an extra $600+ a month!  What am I doing wrong?

She asked me all of the same questions that the financial advisor did.  No, no, and no.

She also asked, “Do you price match?”

No, I don’t.  I am sorry but I don’t want to be that person who holds up the line by rummaging through her weekly flyers to show the 16 year old check out girl the cheaper price somewhere else. I go to the discount place, isn’t that enough?

She said that by using the Flipp app, she saves $30 – $40 a shop.

Maybe I will give it a try.  Maybe we just eat too much.   Maybe I have to buy the discounted meat.

Maybe everyone else is lying about what they spend?

I am curious to know what others typically spend in a month on groceries.  If you have any tips on saving money please share them!

At the end of the day, I just need to eliminate the wants and stick with the essentials.  Good bye cookie aisle; we are on a diet.


8 thoughts on “My grocery bill needs to go on a diet

  1. nice hits home and in everyone’s kitchen, got me thinking; what do I spend in groceries in a month. Now I have to check it out. We do buy sale items and store them. I’m sure there is enough food in our pantry to feed us for a year, (should anything happen). We rarely eat out, unless its a fast food buy on our travels. I guess its just one of those things, that you can never really get control of, cuz don’t we want to feed our families the best nutritionally.What about the family members and friends that come to visit, we have to serve the juiciest steak, or suculent chicken, no price can match the true host/hostess. I hear ya neighbour………


    1. That’s so true. We spend extra when our parents or friends come to visit. It’s one thing I don’t want to skimp on (discount meat – yuck) but I don’t understand how other people do it. I really do need to start using this app called Flipp which price matches all the stores and then you go to a store that does price matching, like Walmart and you get all the deals in one place.


  2. I’m with you Tina, even if Quebec is pricier I still can’t believe what I pay a month – and I shop like you. I know the healthier I shop the more I spend – a rueful truth but worth it but then how do I cut costs? Maybe its not the grocery bill that needs a diet maybe the other parts of my financial life is going to have to “pay”. I do know that when I menu plan I spend less – so that’s one way. And I do not encourage or ask my husband to grocery shop – for him its a novelty which means he gets all the things he likes – rarely the necessities! LOL Great topic for discussion – thanks for sharing (and being honest)


    1. Thanks Berber! I do want to send my husband out to be the grocery shopper to see if he can do it better. I bet he can’t. When he goes grocery shopping he comes home with weird stuff and too few of what we really need. Like, I will ask him to get apples and he comes home with four. Yeah, like that will last a day!


  3. This is a great read Tina! Since January, we have been keeping every single receipt for any food items we have bought, in an envelope (marked for each month). I now have 7 months worth, but I have not added up each month yet. I will do this for you, just to show you what two people spend. (But to be honest, I am a bit scared!) It will be interesting to see!


    1. Thanks Mom! You and Jim do buy a lot of quality food items, I bet for two people your grocery bill is pretty high. I just don’t understand these people who say they spend $100 a week for a family of 4. It’s just not possible.


  4. I was taking to a friend at work about this today. His family of four with two kids, 16 and 14, manage to spend an average of $500 to $600 per month on groceries. How the heck do you manage that – I asked. They do one big shop for meat and non-consumables at Costco. They go in with a list and stick to it – no buying anything else no matter how tempting. They also use the Flipp app to create their grocery list during the week. We really need to learn how to use this! We already invest wisely and regularly, but an extra $600 per month in our investments could yield quite the windfall for early retirement! Freedom 50 Baby! 🙂


  5. (mother-in-law) I will start keeping track myself now that I am on my own. Should be interesting! I just have found it easier in the last few months to boil an egg or make some soup. Going to try and plan a healthy diet and shop wisely……and eat when invited with you( and the grandkids!!) You are doing a great job !


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