Think you should be spending less on groceries and other food costs than you are? Wondering if your food budget is a realistic one? Then it may be time for a grocery spending audit.
Nine years ago when I was pregnant with my sixth baby, we spent $400 a month on food. That’s right. A slim $100 per week to feed pregnant me, my husband, and five kids. To say that times were lean would be quite accurate. However, we lived in the Mid-west at the height of the coupon craze and I was somehow able to pull it off. It took some careful planning and shopping, but we did it.
Today we spend over twice that. But, let me tell you, our family is at least twice its size, if not more! I am no longer the biggest eater in the family. Our family now consists of five MANSIZE appetites, while us ladies can certainly hold our own.
Kids’ growth spurts aside, there are other circumstances that effect our grocery spending: food preferences and allergies, cooking and shopping habits, health goals, etc.
About once a year, I find it helpful to audit our grocery spending in order to keep us on track and to help me determine realistic goals.
How to audit your grocery spending.
An audit of your grocery spending requires you to examine the following:
Who do you feed?
You may have two kids but how often are you receiving guests, taking meals to friends, or otherwise sharing your bounty? These are good things, just keep them in mind as you budget and maybe give yourself some more wiggle room.
What do you like to eat?
Your household preferences and requirements can make a big impact on the budget. Accommodating a food allergy or sensitivity can be really rough on the budget. So can pricier brand foods.
I know folks who never ever buy store brand stuff. I used to be one of them. But, I realized that generic often was just as good as brand name and a whole lot cheaper.
How much are you spending?
Do you know how much you’re spending? Have you kept careful track? If not, save your receipts for a month and see what all you bought. You might be shocked and amazed.
What are you buying?
Are you buying a lot of processed foods? Expensive, organic items? Weird gourmet stuff that no one wants to eat after they’ve tried it? Get a realistic picture of what’s going in your cart. Is it all stuff you truly want and need?
What do you have stored for future meals?
Do you stockpile food and then forget you have it? If you do and it goes to waste, you might as well stop shopping and just burn the money; it’s the same thing. Consider what you already have and make a plan to use it. As you shop going forward, consider what a reasonable, usable stockpile is.
How much are you wasting?
They say that Americans waste 25% of the food they buy. If that is true, then you and I have the potential to reduce our spending by 25%! Give your refrigerator a good hard look. What’s going to waste that you could use?
Can you lower any of those costs without paying more in some other way?
As you save receipts for a month and examine what you’re preparing, eating, and/or tossing in the trash, consider how you can spend less.
Can you make more homemade snacks? Can you bake more often? What about making more homecooked meals instead of eating out? Does freezer cooking fit your season of life? Is it time for a pantry challenge? Would it be better for you to shop once or twice a month so you can avoid impulse purchases?
Wondering what a grocery audit looks like?
Check out this post where I examine the nitty-gritty details of a real-live grocery audit along with some of our go-to strategies for lowering our grocery costs.
It is so helpful to check ourselves, find out our true habits, and then tweak them to fit our overall goals. It can help you eat better and it can help you save money.
Have you done a grocer audit lately? Ever?
Let us know in the comments.
Updated September 5, 2017.