Monday, June 30, 2008

Feeding Frenzy

There is no getting around it; we spend way too much money on food. I’ve been going through our receipts and, even though I don’t have my hubby’s receipts yet, we’ve already spent at least $760 on food this month! That includes grocery (food) items, meat, liquor, junk food and food eaten out, but not household products or grooming products (so not toilet paper or hair gel). Since I only want to spend $600 or less that means we’re incredibly over budget.

This is why entering everything you spend into a spreadsheet can be so helpful. I had no idea we were going over by that much. It’s crazy and we have very plain meals during the week (things like tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, French toast, pasta, noodle soups and tuna melts). I usually buy meat (or occasionally fish) for Friday night and Saturday dinner (midday) but that’s a maximum of about $20 per week. We definitely need to cut down on junk food and I ought to eat out less (although I usually only eat lunch out twice a week and we seldom go out as a family).

We haven’t been able to figure out why we’re so short of money and it’s obvious that black holes like our grocery “budget” are contributing to that. And, yes, kosher food is expensive but that’s not the whole story. We’re all about the convenience. I do most of my shopping at a Safeway because it’s directly on my way home from work and it’s open at the strange hours I tend to shop, but prices for certain things we buy regularly are more expensive there than at the Superstore (about 30 blocks away). I know it costs more in gas (another black hole that I was just discussing the other day) to go to Superstore but it might still make sense to go even once every 2 weeks and buy the things that are notably cheaper.

For example, I drink half a Bolthouse protein drink every morning for breakfast. The big bottles cost 4.99 at Safeway and I occasionally end up buying a small bottle for 2.99 (or 2.50 on sale) if they don’t have the large bottles in stock. Mornings that I’m out of my drink I spend more money on an inferior breakfast at work ($3.75 for a decaf coffee and chocolate muffin that taste great but don’t provide anywhere near the 20 grams of protein I get from the Bolthouse drink). But, if I go to Superstore, I can get the big bottles for $3.89 each. For 7 large bottles (a 2 week supply) the difference would be $7.70 and there are things I have to go to Superstore for anyway because they aren’t available kosher at Safeway.

It’s actually going to get worse because our youngest goes to kindergarten in the fall and will have to start taking a formal lunch, complete with 2 snacks, a sandwich and a drink. This is a real pain because she’s a very picky eater and doesn’t really like much in the way of sandwiches (and, of course, there are no nut products allowed in school because of allergies). She also often doesn’t like whatever we’re having for dinner, much less want to have it cold the next day, which pretty much kills leftovers. Making school lunches she’ll eat is going to be another real challenge as I try to get a handle on our grocery spending.

I think I’m going to have to do a follow up post on this after we get home and I have a chance to go through hubby’s spending too. I’ll post some new goals for July (and look at how I did with June’s goals) once I’m home and have access to everything.

I know Krystal’s Transportation Challenge for July is going to be just that—challenging—but I’m really glad she’s been doing them. I’m learning a lot.


Trent Hamm said...

We found that when I started working from home, our cooking budget went WAY down. Instead of being tempted to get take out every night, I'd just do prep work for supper during my afternoon break. That way, when everyone was home, actually making supper was really easy.

Shevy said...

Hi Trent! Nice to see you here. I certainly enjoy your blog.

We only ever get takeout (generally a pizza) once maybe every 4 or 5 months, but I tend to buy lunch the 2 days per week that I'm full time in the office. When I work in the evening I've already eaten dinner.

I know it would be cheaper to bring leftovers or a sandwich, but I never seem to have the time or energy to put it together (whether the evening before or in the morning as I dash out the door).

This is something I really have to work on though, especially as I will be working full time for 3 weeks later this summer while my co-worker is on vacation. I can't possibly spend an average of $7.50 per day (for a nice sandwich or sushi or half a sandwich and a small caesar salad) for 3 weeks.

That would be $112.50 and I definitely can't afford that, although I could easily rationalize that I'm earning more for working full time so I "deserve" it.