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At the very end of May, I talked to you all about my grocery budget and my goals for the month of June in terms of tracking (and reducing) my spending. Well, the month has come and gone quickly, so now I'm back to update you on my progress and final tally.
If you remember, my May total for groceries was $530.46 and eating out was about $109, for a total monthly food budget of $639.46. I set some goals for myself for June, which were the following:
1) Reduce my grocery bill to $450 for the month
2) Reducing eating out bill to $30 for the month
3) Explore new ways to get local and healthy foods for cheaper (farmers markets, ethnic stores, etc)
4) Not compromise on quality while trying to save
I have to admit, I'm pretty pleased with the progress that I made in only one month's time, although of course there is always room for improvement, and I did not achieve all of my goals. As far as the month's tally, in total I spent $420.38 for groceries and $67.81 for eating out, which totaled $488.19! I also saved $110.03 through my use of coupons, which was a savings percentage of about 21%. The savings number actually should be a little bit higher though, as I bought a good selection of meat on sale at the commissary for "reduced pricing" (it is the meat that they need to get rid of faster) and that is not calculated into my amount saved on my commissary receipt.
If you are counting, the amount that I spent this month was $151.27 less than last month, which is a 23.6% savings over last month! I am always more inspired by the savings percentages, because it just seems like a larger chunk! It makes me pretty proud that I reduced our grocery spending by almost one fourth in only one month!
Here were the best tips that I used to achieve this progress:
- I did continue to use coupons. I scoured the internet for organic and healthy food item coupons, and used them on things that were already marked down (like some organic tomato sauce for about $1, and organic whole wheat pasta for about $1 as well).
- I mapped out my meal planning for the month, and really tried to use all the meals up. I have found that often times I am really good about sticking to the meal plan at the beginning of the week, but then we branch out a little bit as I get more tired of the foods we have in the house. One way that I combatted that boredom or whatever is that I always have some of my whole wheat homemade pizza dough ready to be whipped up into a homemade pizza, which has become our standby meal for the nights we don't feel like having a big to-do dinner. This has really helped, since we haven't been going out to eat as much, and also haven't been going to the store to just pick up a few things to eat for dinner.
- Making a grocery list - this has been invaluable to me. I've always made grocery lists, but just this month I have started really sticking to them and not throwing in a bunch of extras. Maybe we don't have as many snack foods around the house, but who is really missing them anyway?
- I have made less cookies. This was one of my original goals, and I think I only made two batches of cookies this month. It has cut down on our milk consumption, and also cut down on our desserts consumption!
- Taking stock of my pantry, freezer, and fridge before going to the store. This was part of Keeper of the Home's series, and I think it is something I will do every time before I go to the store for a big grocery trip. I haven't been as good about keeping up the inventory lists that I made last time, as we go through food pretty quickly and I don't really feel like crossing all the little cans of stuff that I've used off, but I definitely think that it helps me to get a handle on what we already have and don't need to buy again, and that helped me to cut down on my grocery spending a lot.
Although like I said, I am pretty happy with my progress, I also recognize that there are still some things that I need to work on in terms of getting my grocery bill to where I would really like it:
- More vegetarian meals - we are not vegetarians by any stretch of the imagination, but cutting back on meat is one of the easiest (in my opinion, but I'm not a big meat person) and most effective ways to reduce cost on meals.
- Less eating out - this is really my fault more than my husbands, as a few of the "eating out" meals this month were times that I went out with friends when he wasn't around. I'd like to start doing other things instead of just getting together for lunch, which is often the easiest thing to do. Some of the ideas of Work on It Wednesday - Get Outside! would be applicable - I am going to ask my neighbor if she wants to walk the dogs together, or maybe go over to a friends for lunch instead of going out to eat.
- Farmer's Markets - turns out the best farmers market around here didn't really open until last weekend, so I've only been once. We were sorely unprepared (no cash or a cooler), so we'll be going back again sometime soon. I'm planning on getting more meat, so hopefully we can improve on the quality of the meat that we do eat. That is the one place that I am really unhappy with our grocery situation at the moment - we are still eating the conventional, non organic, nasty commissary meat. This wouldn't be an area that will decrease my spending, but hopefully it can even out with the other things.
- Stop buying toiletries! Argh! As I said in Why I Quit the Grocery Game and Other Thoughts about Saving Money, I do still to some extent play the "grocery game" with my toiletries. The thing is, I have so much body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste that I really don't need anymore! We're moving soon too, so I need to stop stockpiling! I think some of that gets a little addictive, as I feel like I need to get the good deals out there. Money spent on things I don't need, even if I got them for a good price, is still wasted money. Goal for July: No more toiletries (except whatever I can buy with my leftover $6.50 in register rewards from Walgreens).
So there is the update, my progress, and a few goals for next month. The budget for the next few months is going to be a little skewed, as we are moving in the middle of August so I'll probably stop buying groceries completely (except for maybe a few fruits and veggies) around the end of July, and force my family to eat whatever we have (anyone want some spaghetti sauce and rice for dinner?!) =) I refuse to let the massive amount of food in my walk in pantry go to waste, so I fear we'll be eating some weird meals in the upcoming weeks. That being said, I'll let you know at the end of July what kind of progress I've made, and maybe July/August will even each other out (since we'll be buying staples all over again in August in our new house).
I hope you've enjoyed reading about my progress. Have you made any changes to your grocery budget lately? I would love to hear other people's end of the month numbers for their family. If you don't mind, let me know the region that you live in, how many people you are feeding, and if you buy organic/"real" foods or not. I am (for whatever reason) really fascinated by this, so please join in and share! Also you'll give me something to aspire to, as I really have no idea how my numbers compare to anyone else!
I'm reading this: Money Mondays - My Grocery Budget Part IITweet this! Posted by Lauren on Monday, June 28, 2010