I’ve tried various things to reduce our spending on food and groceries. I meal plan, write shopping lists, make everything – or nearly everything – from scratch. I analyse in detail the cost of the breakfast cereal we eat. I limit treats. But, no matter what I’ve tried, I still spend around $700 a month, and frequently go over.
I analysed where and how I spend our food / groceries and entertainment money. It was enlightening. We spent way more on meals out than I expected and shopped almost every day of the month.
But I wanted to know exactly where our money was going, so I did some more data analysis. I gathered the grocery receipts for a month and categorised every line and came up with the following:
|Fruit and veg||129.55|
|Dairy and eggs||101.22|
|Treats – biscuits, cake, crisps, chocolate||63.24|
|Cleaning / washing / tissues / toilet paper etc.||46.94|
|Cash / don’t have a receipt||171.31|
|Lunch – spreads / sandwich fillers||17.94|
|Breakfast – cereal||9.50|
|Pantry – baking||7.00|
The amount that I spent in cash and / or don’t have a receipt for is – at $171.31 – far too high. If I don’t know what I’ve spent on, I can’t make a plan to reduce it.
As we don’t eat meat, I’m pleased that fruit & veg is highest and not surprised that dairy and eggs are high up the list too. The amount spent on evening meals is fine (obviously some of the veg goes in our evening meals, this is for pasta, rice, veggie sausages, gravy and so on). But, woah, what? We spent almost as much on treats as we did on evening meals. That’s bad for our finances and for our health.
The ‘non-groceries’ basically means we are buying things at the grocery store from the grocery money which have nothing to do with groceries. This might be birthday cards, stationary, sunscreen and so on. There isn’t really a line of our budget for these things so they get swallowed up in grocery money.
Almost $40 on bread is a pretty significant amount to spend on just one product, but we each have a sandwich / roll for our lunch each day and Mr FF has toast for breakfast and supper so I guess it all adds up. Similarly, $17 on drinks seems a lot, but would include juice, tea, cordial, and soda.
The low amount spent on baking was a surprise as I do a lot of baking. It either means I had a full pantry or I spent all our money on biscuits and not on baking. Again, I think this is bad for our finances but also our health as shop bought biscuits tend to have more sugar, fat and preservatives than those I would bake at home.
And finally, the breakfast cereal is impressively low. The success in this area is probably because it is the only one that I’ve really investigated.
I love a good action plan and decided on the following:
- Get receipts.
- Stop buying treats.
- Create an ‘incidentals’ spending budget for non-grocery items.
- Look for savings in bread, for example not buying fruit toast and buying products like wraps which seem to be cheaper per unit than bread rolls.
- Look for savings in drinks, reducing our intake of juice and soda in favour of water.
It took a couple of hours to go through the receipts but it was enlightening and I would highly recommend it to anyone who, like me, is struggling to get their spending down as it shows exactly where your money is going.