WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

January 2010 grocery budget totals

Posted February 3, 2010

I am often asked how much I spend per week or per month on groceries and non-food essentials (like bath and beauty, paper products, etc). Each month I will be sharing how much I spent, how much I saved and how much I would have spent if I paid full retail for the items (gasp!).  This budget is for our family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children ages 8 and 10).

My budget for food, bath and beauty items, paper products, cleaning supplies and dog food is $315 per month ($72 per week).

Our budget is lower in the summer months because we grow our own garden so we are not buying as much produce at the grocery store.

January 2010 Totals

  • Total regular retail cost of all grocery and drug store items purchased in January 2010: $1390.53
  • Total saved: $1081.64
  • Percent saved: 78%!
  • Total spent in January: $309.01

This month I came in $5.99 under budget. Not being able to shop the last few days of the month because of the snow storm definitely kept me from going over!

Keep in mind that Harris Teeter offered Super Doubles the first week of January and there were some great stock up sales on items we buy at many stores during the month.  In January I shopped at Lowe's Foods, Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Kroger, Trader Joe's (for tofu), Whole Foods (for tofu), Walmart, Walgreen's, CVS and Kerr Drug.  I didn't shop every store every week, of course, but my willingness to shop loss leaders at different stores during the week allowed me to stock up on items we buy at substantial savings. Basically, if you are only willing/able to shop at one store per week - you will pay more money. No one store has all the best deals all of the time. Even just getting the loss leaders at one extra store during the week (in a quick 15 minute shop) can save you an extra $25 or more - every week!

I also ordered coupons online and bought one copy of the Sunday paper each week so I had multiples of coupons for the items we like to use. I have a budget of $15 per month for procurement of coupons for our family.

Even with the $15 added in to the monthly total I still saved 77% overall.  A good month for savings, indeed.

Anyone else want to share their weekly or month grocery budgets?


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  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Feb 4, 2010

    Thanks, little blue! I'll check it out next time I am in that area.

  • little blue 2 Feb 4, 2010

    The tofu I bought last week was $1.29/lb. That may have been a special, but they have a number of brands and varieties, and I think the most I've seen is $1.69/lb.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Feb 4, 2010

    Did I hear tofu???!! What's their price per container, if you know? If it's less than $1.49 I am impressed!

    Thanks for sharing the info little blue!

  • little blue 2 Feb 4, 2010

    I have just recently started reading your blog, and I wanted to suggest another source for value. I go to the Grand Asia market in South Hills Mall in Raleigh/Cary, for most of my produce. Last week I bought red bell peppers for $1.99/lb, white button mushrooms for $1.99/lb, cilantro for $.58/big beautiful bunch (or 2/$1). Now, their produce is not picture perfect, in fact things like bell peppers are usually the oddly shaped, misformed ones. But if you're cutting them up, who cares?

    Plus, they have more varieties of tofu than you can shake a stick at!!!

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Feb 3, 2010

    wild - you may want to read this article about couponing (with info on ordering coupons) that I wrote last week here on the blog:

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Feb 3, 2010

    wildfrenchrose - if you order the day the sale starts, you should receive them in time. I usually order from www.thecouponclippers.com on late Friday night or early Sat morning (the new coupons are posted then). I get the coupons on Wednesday. There is a mailing schedule on the tcc site. If I order from e-bay for a specific sale, they are usually shipped in 24-48 hours and I have always received them before the sale ended as long as I ordered the first day of the sale. I also look for vendors who live on the east coast so they get here more quickly. There are also some other links to coupon vendors on my website - www.smartspendingresoruces.com in the Resources section. Hope that helps!

  • wildfrenchrose Feb 3, 2010

    Where do you order your coupons from? And how quickly do they come? If I order coupons the day I see a sale start, will I receive them before the sale ends?

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Feb 3, 2010

    B-great job getting that weekly budget down!

    2boys - The experts (like Gary at The Dollar Stretcher) indicate that a family of 4 spends an average of $121 per week ($30 per person). Most frugal families usually spend $15 - $20 per person per week. We spend $18 per person per week including non-food. To decide on a workable monthly grocery/non-food essentials budget, start by figuring out what you currently spend each month. You may need to start tracking this month to get a good idea of how much you normally spend. Then, look closely on what you spent $ on to determine what you spent per person and what you can cut. Begin to lower your grocery budget by 5% each month by using coupons and meal planning and lessening the splurges. Once you get to an amount you are comfortable with (ideally, somewhere in the $20 per person range weekly), you will know you are at the right weekly budget. Obviously, if there are allergy and other health issues, your budget will be more. Hope that helps!

  • twoboys Feb 3, 2010

    I have all my bills laid out...i.e. how much each thing costs each month, and mark them off as I pay them. But when it comes to budgeting what's left, how do you decide how much to spend on what is needed? For example, how do you decide that your grocery budget is 315?

  • t0tAlChA0s Feb 3, 2010

    That is amazing! I just started couponing and we do not have a budget yet. I can say that I have not made one trip to the grocery store and spent $200 as ususal. And that was almost every week. The most I have spent at one time now is $60, and we have more food now then we did when I was not couponing. I am still learning. Hopefully before long my totals will look more like yours!! =)