Why the F is my grocery bill so high?

Andy and I plan pretty well when and what we’re going to buy when we go to the grocery store. We have the occassional impulse purchase, like dark chocolate covered peanut butter wafer cookies at Trader Joe’s, which is not a regular in our house. But 99% of the time, we make a list and stick to it.

So I was shocked when I saw that our already high grocery bill was a full $300 above where we should be at this point in the year on our grocery expenses. Mint.com tells me the great news by showing how far above budget I have gone and rolls over each month’s over- or underspending. For us, $300 is half of our monthly grocery budget. We spend a ton on fresh produce for me and more expensive juice and milk for A so we can both get as many nutrients as possible in the way our bodies can handle it.

So last week I was in the shower while he was outside the bathroom with the kitty (Gus likes the stalk the bathroom so he can jump in the shower as soon as your done) and we were having our daily chat about how our days went and life stuff. We tend to do this while I shower and he plays with the cat. I have no idea why.

Anyway, I mentioned how high our grocery bill had gotten and how I thought we were both doing a good job of eating everything we buy and planning ahead. And Andy made the genius observation that gas prices were very high and that most of the cost of food is the transportation.

Oh, yeah. That’s right.

So if your grocery bill seems high, that’s why. Genius boyfriend. And if you don’t think he’s a genius, Forbes also wrote an article about this, and high oil prices was #7 on the list.

The unfortunate thing is that high oil prices, plus the combination of other global economic factors, like the growing markets in China and India, mean that food prices are unlikely to go down.

I recently raised my grocery budget, and I suggest you do the same, but you can do yourself a favor by making sure you compare costs from weekly grocery ads so you’re getting the lowest price possible. I spent $3.69 for a pound of strawberries at Trader Joe’s last week only to walk into a QFC and see they were $7.99 for a 4 lb box. That’s super mega savings on essentially the same strawberries.

Just don’t negate this by driving all over creation to get the lower prices. QFC is right next to the Trader Joe’s we shop at, but the closest Albertson’s is 10 mile trek so we only go there if it’s on the way to another activity (this sort of sucks because Albertson’s always has the best deal on seafood, which we would prefer to eat more of).

Also, clip coupons for things you actually buy and make sure you join your grocery store’s club card. QFC consistently spits out a discount on Lactaid milk, which is great for us since A easily drinks 2-3 containers of milk a week.

What do you do to save on groceries?

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2 Responses to Why the F is my grocery bill so high?

  1. We're having this exact conversation. Our monthly grocery budget is $500, and last month we were over by one or two hundred dollars, which was an unexpected sort of Bewilderbeast to encounter. To save on money we're trying out a few different things:1) Pre-making meals for the week on the weekend. When we have our meals planned out, we not only stick to our budget better, but we eat healthier. We are also more aware of our portions (main, salad, snack, fruit, etc.) because we package each meal in tupperware separately.2) Eating more fresh foods and cutting down on processed/ pre-packaged foods. We found these were costing us a lot of money, even the purchases we thought we small niceties added up significantly when we reviewed our receipts.3) We review our receipts at the end of the month. This is important for a few reasons, but mostly it’s helping us track our spending habits and see where we could improve.4) Monitoring how often we “stock up” on items. Buying a lot of bulk products in a month tends to drive us over budget in a blink, so planning for those bulk item purchases, or re-evaluating whether bulk is the correct course, really helps us.5) We may try to buy more local and in-season produce…but both of us (me in particular) have a weakness for avocados. Yikes. Always room to improve here, and we know it. We'll have to see how this works out next month!

  2. Oh, yes. One more thing we've done. I have no self-control when it comes to items like grape juice, gummy candy…actually, maybe juice in general and Thomas Kemper drinks. Knowing this (and seeing the price tag), we've cut them from our shopping list entirely, which has already saved us over $20 this month (based on previous months…). 🙂

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