Tuesday, February 7, 2012

January's' Grocery Total

Now that January is over and the grocery numbers have been tallied, it seems that my once-a-month grocery shopping was a fail. Not an epic fail, just a fail. Instead of spending just $600, I went over by a few dollars...or $268.92 to be exact.

Really, what's a few bucks?

While I was busy feeling sorry for myself, my Mister was busy averaging our last 3 months of 2011's food bill. Here's the thing about my beloved. He protects me. He shields me from the realities of my frivolous spending. He keeps me from freaking out.

That's what 25 years of marriage gets you.

Really, it's about his self-preservation. Me freaking out is not pretty.

For the first 9 months of last year, our monthly grocery average was right around $1200. And that was for a family of 7. After our eldest daughter and her family moved in and we became a family of 11 again, it rose. And by rose, I really mean soared. And by soared, I really mean skyrocketed. And by skyrocketed, I really mean it hit the Milky Way.

It's a good thing my Mister is a nurse. I'm fairly certain he had to resuscitate me.

What I'm wondering is, who had to resuscitate him?

So, to put my extra $268.92 in perspective, I went from spending an average (for Oct., Nov., and Dec. only~whew!) of...wait for it...$2,000/month down to $868.92. January's spending included a trip to Costco, $132 in raw milk, and an extra shopping trip to buy some fun foods for the kids while we were on our trip. There were also 4 other stores that made up the remainder of our budget, which included restocking some gluten-free items.

What I've learned (so far) is that once-a-month shopping almost works for us. At about 3 weeks is when we started to notice that we were running out of much-used items. It's also about the time that I had to start getting creative.

1. Instead of buying both sour cream and yogurt, I buy plain whole fat yogurt and use it in place of sour cream when needed. Our favorite is at Trader Joe's, but we also like the Greek Gods yogurt in the green tub. (We make yogurt too, but so far haven't had good results with it as a sour cream substitute.)

2. I've been gluten-free for 2 months and let me tell you, it ain't cheap. Instead of buying all the speciality flours, I'm buying the whole grains and grinding them myself. I currently have 20# each of white and brown rice, 5#'s each of millet, buckwheat, and quinoa, and extra packages of xanthan gum and tapioca flour that I bought on sale. I also purchased raw almonds to grind which are a less expensive alternative to almond meal. I'm sure there are more that I will need at some point, but for now this is working. Finding a place to store them all is another story...

3. We use a lot of peanut butter. In January, I grossly misjudged how much we would need and we ended up running out. (Almost need the SWAT team in full riot gear for that mistake.) We don't eat a lot of sandwiches, but we do use it for apples and toast. Those raw almonds that I purchased for almond meal? They also worked great for making our own nut butter. Add a little sea salt and the kids thought they were getting something special.

4. Toilet paper is non-negotiable. There are going to be times when an unplanned trip to town will be inevitable. Things happen. Toilet paper disappears without a trace (although I thought I saw a mummy running down the hallway), and before the family can go into survivalist mode and start hauling rhododendron leaves into the house, someone needs to make an quick, unplanned trip to town! Thankfully, it's that fear of losing my rhodies that keeps me focused on those unplanned trips. In and out. Toilet paper only. Make no eye contact.

Shopping's not for the weak.

There will be a couple of changes to our monthly grocery plan. First, we're raising our spending amount from $600 to $800/month. This is a more realistic goal for us. Buying in bulk costs a little more up front, but in the long run keeps us out of the stores a bit longer. Speaking of bulk...our Costco trip will be limited to every other month. This will allow us wiggle room in replacing mail order items such as, coconut oil and maple syrup, and allow us trips to Bob's Redmill when needed. And finally, we are going to twice-a-month shopping with the bulk of it at the beginning of the month. A second trip is needed for some fresh produce. Side salads are a big deal for the adults in the house, but bananas...those are the deal breakers.

The kids can survive without toilet paper, but no bananas? Oh...I shudder to think of the paybacks...

All in all, I'm pleased with our spending for January. There was no waste of unused produce (except for a single lemon I found rolling around in the veggie bin), no moldy breads or cheeses, and we were able to use a little creativity toward the end of the month. We're still aiming for $600, but until the garden is planted and producing, that goal just may be a little harder to reach.

Of course, we could always rethink the toilet paper issue...☺

8 more day until the giveaway winner is announced~have you entered yet?


DoleValleyGirl said...

Great job! I have to tell you that I was pretty inspired by your once a month shopping that I inventoried our pantry and freezer and made up a menu for the next five weeks (what can I say, I collect food). My goal is to only purchase fresh produce and dairy products as needed for the month of February and see how little I can spend. $800 for a household of 11 people is fantastic! We've got four of us and we've been spending over $700; my goal is to get us under $500 -- we'll see how it goes. :)


Candy C. said...

Going from $2000 down to $868 is a great big SUCCESS in my book!
I would have trouble with only once a month shopping, every other week would be better. You are right, during gardening season, it should come down even more.
Peanut butter, bananas and TOILET PAPER are NOT negotiable! LOL!!

momma-lana said...

Looks to me like you did great in January. That is a really small amount for 11 people! I usually figure $100 per person and I am an avid couponer (NOT a processed foods couponer) and we eat tons of produce. I have to work hard to keep the $100 per person met. I find that 10 days is as long as I can go without a produce trip. LOL about the bananas-- my grandsons can't do without bananas when they come to visit but hubby and I can go weeks without a banana in the house.

Clint Baker said...

Thats amazing!

Anonymous said...

I think you did great. I haven't menu plan in a couple of weeks and what we are eating is not what I want to eat and its so hurting the wallet. I don't even what to think how much I spend so far this month for groceries. To solve this simple problem I going to inventory what I have and make a menu and go grocery shopping with a list. I can get back on track(today I went to the store just for roast for supper)waste of gas and time.

Diane said...

For 11 people I think you did a great job. The savings from one month to the next is pretty substanial.