Hi everybody! I thought today we’d talk about something we all deal with – buying groceries. You might not expect a fitness instructor to be a numbers nerd, but I am. I come from a background in finance so crunching numbers is one of those weird things I enjoy doing. Like counting money (and it doesn’t even have to be my money!!).
Twice a year (in January and September) I like to take a look at our family budget, see if we are on track with our expected spending in each area and re-assess as necessary. I’ve always found one of the hardest ares to anticipate is our food budget, and if we don’t watch it, before we know it were are over spending and throwing everything off.
Is it just me, or has the cost of food increased exponetially in the past few years? I swear we spend 3x more on food/month now than we did 6 or 7 years ago and it always makes me think, “Is this necessary? Are we spending way more than most people on groceries each week?” So before factoring in our weekly food expense, I posed a question on facebook, twitter, and instagram.
How much do you spend/week on groceries? And for how many people?
The response was fabulous! In just over 24 hours I had responses from over 70 people all over the US, Canada and even Europe. Some were vegan, Paleo, or bought all organic foods, some lived from big cities like New York, Miami, Toronto and San Fransisco, others were from small towns and communities (like me), I even had responses from at least one family in Alaska.
Obviously the family sizes were all different, but by far the largest portion of the group consisted of 2 adults, or two adults and one infant/toddler. Then I noticed something very interesting. Regardless of where they lived or how they ate (vegan, paleo, etc), the majority of families spent close to the same amount of money on groceries.
Then I went back and looked more closely at the families of more than 2 and their weekly grocery bills. On average (factoring out the amount children/ pre-teens would eat) I came up with the same answer again.
Interestingly, the averages I came out with are almost exactly how much we pay for food each week too:
$100-120/week per couple (or 50-60/week per teenager/adult)
Now obviously there were some families that had much lower weekly grocery bills, and some that were much higher, but I would say at least 80% of the responses I received fell in the $100-120 range. Also, for many family (including us) that total includes things like household cleaners, toiletries, pet food, etc.
Staying on Budget
I think we can all agree that the easiest way to blow a budget is to go shopping without a plan. When talking about food, going in without a plan means going grocery shopping without a list, a meal plan for the week, and without first taking a look a the weekly sales to see where you can save money.
Meal planning may seem boring and tedious but it’s really quite simple and once you get used to it, it really only takes a few minutes each week to do. If you really don’t feel like planning yourself, or don’t know where to start there are many websites out there that offer free meal plans every week (including my friend Jen’s) that you can use.
Once you have your meal plan for the week, you need to make a list of all of the foods you will need in order to make the meals on the plan. I find it easiest to have both my meal plan for the week and my grocery list on the same piece of paper. That way while I am at the store I can quickly go through all the ingredents for each meal in my head one more time to make sure I do have everything I need.
To Help You Out
I’ve made you a free printable grocery shopping list and meal plan that you get when you sign-up for my weekly newsletters
You’ll notice that I only leave 3 lines for breakfast meal planning. Around here we normally eat the same couple things for breakfast over and over rather than having something different every day. We also tend to have the same lunches Mon-Fri, but I did leave 7 lines to allow others more flexibility in their planning. There are also a few lines for planned snacks, what’s life without a few good snacks factored in? 😉
Question of the Day:
Do you meal plan? Do you find it makes your week easier?
I find if I don’t plan out our meals that by Wednesday we seem to be pretty much out of food with no ideas of what to eat!