Monday, November 7, 2016

Reviewing and Budgeting for 2017: Grocery Shopping




Even though it is November, Hubby and I are reviewing our budget for 2017. In 2016, we didn't really budget so much as we spent as little as possible so that we could reach our goal of saving and investing $50,000. this year. We are still working towards that goal.


We have figures for 10 months of spending so far this year and we do have a year's worth of spending figures from November 2015 through October 2016. So they are enough for us to start working on a plan.

Today, I will talk about only the groceries that we cook in our kitchen and stockpile in our pantries. They are for food only and include no cleaning products, health and beauty aids, toilet paper, soaps, etc. Those have their own category of Household Goods. I rarely buy any of those things at the grocery store.

There are just two of us so it is our food and food for any company we have during the year. Most of our company is family and some dinners we cook for friends. Our party days are over because they are too much for me these days. The budget also includes food that we give for gifts to neighbors or dishes that we take to parties. Our food budget does not include alcohol. We have a separate budget for beer, liquor and wine.

Let's take a quick peak at the numbers. For the first ten months of 2016, we spent an average of $ 438.72 a month on food. From November of 2015 through October of 2016, we spent an average of $407.48 a month on food. 

The USDA as of 2016 says that the two of us should be averaging $ 363.80 on a thrifty plan, $ 469.40 on a low cost plan, $ 584.80 on a moderate cost plan and $ 706.60 on a liberal plan. We don't spend quite as much as a low cost plan. Looking at these numbers doesn't really tell you much. I think their numbers are pretty high but maybe not if they just go into the store and pick up whatever they want without thinking how to save on those items.

We buy good meats like filet mignon, NY strip steak, corned beef and beef roast, pork loins, leg of lamb, ham, chicken, turkey. We also have shrimp and fish during the year. So we don't feel like we eat on a low cost plan even though they say we do.

We try to eat the proper portions for our ages and nutritional requirements. Sometimes we even have seconds. We do eat some snacks but try to keep them as healthy as we can.

Hubby and I have decided that we are going to try to lower the amount we spend on food in 2017. We are going to set actual budget figures for 2017. We believe that we can lower our food budget to $75. per week or $300 per month and still eat as well as we have been. That would be lowering our food bill by $ 107. to $ 138. a month. 

With careful planning of menus, almost always buying at rock bottom or sale prices, eating our leftovers, and never wasting food, I believe that we can do it. So $300. per month will be our target for 2017. That will give us a savings of $ 1284. to $1656. over 2016. That is a significant savings that we can invest or spend on something else. 

I will show you what we eat and how we keep the costs low all during 2017. We will try to do most of our shopping at Aldi, Save-A- Lot, Walmart, Top's, Wegmans, and Niagara Produce in 2017. But I will  always be looking for great deals on food at other places too. 

Have you thought about what you will spend on food in 2017? Will you lower or raise your budget? I know that I am always curious as to what different families spend on food and I am sure others who read here are also. So please share with us by commenting the size of your family and what you spend a month for food.         

21 comments:

  1. We average about $450 per month for a family of 4. That's two adults, a 19 yr old son and 16 yr old daughter. This does include all household needs such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc.

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    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Wow! I could probably learn from you. Thanks for sharing.

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    2. I'd love to get this lower! This is all three meals,seven days a week, for all four of us. My husband and son take lunch to work. My son works in a warehouse and it's pretty physically demanding. Plus my daughter is a dancer, so I make sure our meals are full of protein and fresh vegetables (and many of them are organic).

      It does help that my husband LOVES couponing. 😊

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  2. I find it interesting to see what others spend on groceries also. We are a family of three; two adults and a ten year old. This year I spent $250-300 a month. That includes our household items also. I keep a well stocked pantry, garden and do some canning. Like you, I buy things at rock bottom prices. I sometimes wonder what others think of my shopping cart as there are times my shopping cart is full of nothing but boxes of pasta or toliet paper! For 2017 I am going to try to keep the grocery budget between $200-250 as we have some medical debt to payoff and need to offset the rising cost of our insurance premiums and a higher deductible.

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    1. Hi Wendi,

      Wow! You will have to share with us how you do. I think household goods added to my food budget would sink me. We live in a region of NY where prices are higher than other parts of the country.

      I hear you on the heathcare. Ours is going up too.

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  3. For the first 5 months of 2016 we spent $1,494.54 or $298.91 per month on food for a family of 2-3(son at college Feb-May).

    Then our world changed when our daughter returned home with her BF in tow so she could finish her degree. The second 5 months of 2016 we spent $2,680.18 or $536.04 per month on food for a family of 4-5 adults(son at college Aug-Oct.).

    I am on track to spend $450 for Nov. and have a plan that means I won't have any food spending in Dec. so I should finish the year with $4,650+/- in food spending.

    As all 4-5 adult will still be living here in 2017 for the whole year I suspect my food spending will increase to around $6K next year. I wish it wouldn't but as I already shop strategically I don't see it being any lower than that unless we eat substantially less/less quality/or I win a free year of food in some contest. ;-)

    On the USDA Thrifty Plan I should be spending between $755.30-$798 per month for 4-5 adult eaters so I guess I am doing aok.
    PS-my food budget includes paper goods/toiletries/OTC/HBA too.

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    1. Hi Slugmama,

      You have always been amazing as far as shopping for your family. You have me beat by a mile. $ 387.50 a month for 2016 for all of those people is terrific. Everyone has me wondering if I am really careful, if I could fit the HBA, cleaning, and paper products in my food budget. I am tempted not to set a budget for those things and just add them to the food budget. We will see how it goes.

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  4. We are a family of 5 (2 of our children away at college but home all summer and holidays as well as a few weekends plus they raid my pantry to take stuff back with them...even though we pay their pricey meal plan). We live in a state with a moderate cost of living. Our teen son who is in high school is an athlete and eats A LOT:). We spent an average of $470mo for food and $94mo for nonfood. Our restaurant/out of home spending was $124mo. We have a large stockpile that we could stop adding to and use but I'm uncomfortable doing that at the moment. It would help get our numbers down though.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      You are doing terrific. I remember those days of our boys being home from college and eating us out of house and home and then taking food back too. For some reason they don't like the meal plan foods.

      I agree with you on the stockpile right now too. I am building mine instead of depleting it.

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  5. Sounds like you do a great job shopping! I am amazed at the USDA amounts.
    We are a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 teens, and I spend around $500/month on groceries. That does include some canned dog and cat foods, toilet paper, laundry and dishwashing detergent. I wish that I could spend $400/month, but I do buy some organic fruits/veggies so doubt if I can spend much less although I can get better about not wasting foods.

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    1. Hi Kathy,

      $500. for 4 is great. Teens can eat alot. I am going to have to add our non food products in. If you guys can do it, we should be able to also.

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  6. We are a family of 2, living on an acreage where we garden and raise chickens, both for eggs and a yearly batch of broilers. I like to keep my food budget at $200.00 a month. But since we have a son and his family close we often have our 3 grandkids over as well as our son and his wife so sometimes I spend more. But our tastes are simple, our snacks are simple often popcorn or the grandkids favorite of apples and peanut butter. None are picky eaters so they eat whatever I fix :) This amount includes the basic toiletries of T.P, dish soap but seldom laundry detergent or otc meds or vitamins. I get those at Walgreens or Walmart. Nannie.

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    1. Hi Nannie,

      $200. is terrific. I love that you raise your own chickens. Everyone is putting me to shame buying some non-food products in their grocery budgetes. I definitely will have to try. Thanks for sharing.

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    2. Keep doing what you are doing...I do not include toilet paper etc. in our food budget for the simple reason it is not food. Our food budget is just food. Like you I do not buy household items at the grocery store. Unless it is broken down item by item monthly I feel one does not get a true picture of the amount of food vs. household items if it is just lumped together. We all do what works for us. If we had acreage our food might be $200...which is great, but other than growing some things such as tomates, beans our patio is just more for relaxing these days.

      Looking forward to future posts as many have changed my husbands and my mind on many things.
      blessings, jill

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    3. Thanks for your kindness Jill and for sharing.

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  7. I have not been keeping track of my grocery spending but I know it has been higher than everyone has posted- I'm guessing $700 or so month. We are a household of 2 but not many of our meals serve just 2 as we have grandchildren so much, i take food to my parents (sometimes leftovers and sometimes a group size meal) and we host many bigger family meals.
    My plan for December and beyond is to get back to keeping track and to do a better job of meal planning.
    I've been following a social media mom with a family of 5. She plans her menus for a month and does a big shopping day of $300 and then allows $25 a week for fresh stuff and extras. I'd like to do something similar to that.

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    1. Hi Rhonda,

      I guess I am not surprised with your total because I know you are always having the grandkids and your large family there. I also get the feeling that you love to cook. I wish you luck following that new plan. I will be checking your blog to see how it goes.

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  8. Let's see - my budget is actually $550, but we have been spending closer to $650, unfortunately. We are a family of four, with two growing boys (9 & 10), who play a lot of sports. This year, in an attempt to stay on top of the grocery spending, I tracked by category. We spend about 45% of grocery budget on fruit & vegetables, 15% on dairy (organic eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt), 20% on meat, 9% on pantry staples, 7% on grains, and the rest on prepared food/snacks. So, I do feel like we are keeping the balance on the right food groups. But, it's a lot!

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  9. Hi Hawaii Planner,

    I think you are doing well for your family of 4. Boys eat alot.Good job on tracking the food groups.Correct me if I am wrong but don't you have really high food prices in Hawaii?

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  10. We do $395 a month for our family of 3. I keep baby items and HBA in separate category. We eat a little different, I rarely enter an actual grocery store. We spend $140/a month on local grass fed organic meat direct from a farmer here. I buy the weekly specials at discounted price & buy 2 whole chickens a month to turn into 4 dinners+ 4 lunches of leftovers per chicken. I buy our produce from farmers market and eat in season which requires some experimenting. I am learning how to cook different squashes right now since they are very very cheap and store well. We have a new baby on the way so life is sort of in transition & I feel like I am always eating.

    We are living in apartment short term while house hunting for a place in the country so I can garden & raise chickens. Looking forward to experimenting with canning next season. I hope to reduce our monthly budget next year since 55% is produce & eggs. I think it will take a few years to see maximum benefit. I also can't wait to get my freezer back and finish potty training our toddler to stop using pullups. We are almost there!!!!! Keep up the awesome work, I love the posts on savings.

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    1. Hi AJ,

      It's great to hear from you. Congrats on expecting a new baby.

      $395. a month is awesome considering all of the grass fed organic meat. I love squash. I just wish that I could get Hubby to eat it.

      Thanks for sharing and your kindness.

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