Monday, October 10, 2016

Let's talk grocery budgets

Is it just me, or have groceries seemed to have increased in price over the past six months or so? For a very, very long time, I managed to keep our weekly grocery budget to an average of $150 a week. Sometimes it was more, sometimes it was less, but this was the number it hovered around. For the past couple of months, my average seems to have increased to $200 a week. This does not make me happy, and I can't quite figure out why. Is it grocery prices? Am I buying more food? Am I buying more expensive food?

I don't think I'm buying significantly more food than in the past, and I know in general I'm not buying more expensive food. When I do, and the grocery bill is higher, then it makes sense. For instance, if we splurge and have some salmon one night for dinner, then it makes sense when that week's bill is higher. But we don't have salmon every week; once every couple of months would be far more accurate. This is also with having at least one, if not two, meatless meals each week.

Could it really be that I am feeding two new people regularly? I'm not sure I buy this because my older people are in and out and feeding 11 people regularly is not a new phenomenon. Whatever it is, it is not making me happy. It also made me wonder how much it actually costs to feed each person per meal, so I did some math. Using this past week's grocery trip as an example here are my numbers.

A. Number of meals for this shopping trip: 25
B. Snacks times/tea times: 6
Total meals provided: 31

C. Number of people for each meal: 11
D. Number of people for each snack/tea time: 10
So multiply out, the total number of individual meals/snack times/tea times = (AxC) + (BxD)=335

The average amount spent per person, per meal (dividing the total number of meals by my week's grocery total of $200) = $1.66    *** see below

This still seems high to me. I have some dinners that when I do the math, cost a mere $0.54 per person. Granted this is one of my most inexpensive meals to make, so it is on the extreme end. Food would be fairly dull and monotonous if I keep it this low for every meal. Maybe I just haven't been good about making sure at least one or two of our weekly are of the more budget variety. I think I will experiment next week when I make the new menu.

I'm curious. Do your own math. How do my numbers compare to yours? Am I being completely unrealistic? Do I have to give up the days when I spent $200 less per month as I used to?
***Edited to add... OK, this whole post has now turned into one of the math exercises of spotting the mistake. As a kind reader pointed out, my math is wrong. (Imagine that. Sarcasm emoticon) I should have divided the meals by the money, not the money by the meals. This gives me a much more respectable $0.60 per person, per meal.



If the cost is $200 and the meals/person are 335 - it can't be over a dollar each. That would be like $700, right? It's your math!? You divide the money by the meals, not the meals by the money! (I love your blog and follow faithfully if silently)

thecurryseven said...

Oh my goodness! I am totally laughing at myself. No wonder it seemed so ridiculously high to me!! I will now go back and add the corrections and feel much, much better.

Thank you!

molly said...

Maybe it is just where we are, or that I do treat myself to some prepackaged stuff to throw in school lunch boxes-(this is entirely for my sake- I hate making lunches) But I would say we spend around $1000 per month for a family of 5. Weekly shopping trips around $200 plus a monthly Costco trip. Is this for toiletries and dog food too?

thecurryseven said...


No, this is just for the regular grocery stores. Sam's Club for paper products and some bigger food items happens once a month or so, and dog and cat food are separate as well. If I am totally honest, I should probably factor in my twice a year bulk purchases, as we use those every week, but I just did the math (correctly) and it only adds an average of $8 per week to my total, so not a huge amount. And then there are the pharmacy/drug store trips for OTC meds and bandaids, etc. Ugh. The spending of money... it never stops!


c smith said...

I feel like you are right, prices have gone up. I spend about the same as you for the same number of people. Last year we moved to a new area and I started keeping a grocery price log to compare staple prices at different area stores. Now I have the prices memorized but when I look back at my lists, I can see that prices have gradually risen by at least 10 percent. Our regular items seem to be the most affected; milk, dried beans, pasta, cheese, bread are all up by about 25 cents. Really prices should have gone down when gas prices dropped, as transport makes up a large amount of food cost.

Carla said...

I, too, would agree that prices have risen in general. I don't have a strict grocery budget, but for the things I buy occasionally, I have a "price point", and I only buy it when it is on sale/coupon down to that amount. I have noticed that I've had to go without some things for a long time that used to hit the price point with reasonable frequency. The sales just aren't what they were a year ago.

Kelly said...

Our grocery costs had risen to a little over $200/week for our family of 8, but I think that was due to the post-adoption haze. We've made an effort over the past few weeks to get our spending down again and it is back at $150/week average. However, that isn't a true reflection of our grocery spending. Like others have said, we also have monthly costs at a combination of Amazon subscribe & save plus Costco. Much of that is toiletries or dog food but we do buy some food there. Also, once a year we have a pig slaughtered which runs around $800 total which would add an extra $15/week to our grocery costs. If I'm getting really detailed, we probably spend close to $100 per year to get other local items such as several bushels of apples at an orchard or local honey. I would guess our true total spending is closer to $300 per week for all that if I'm being honest.

We don't use a lot of convenience foods. I typically cook from scratch, things like roasting a whole chicken to make two meals from the meat plus two gallons of chicken broth from the carcass. We eat meatless meals once or twice a week. We rarely have meals where everyone gets a chunk of meat. It's usually things like chicken and rice where a smaller portion of meat is mixed in. But overall I'm happy with our diet so I don't think I'd try to reduce the cost any further at this point.

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