What are you NOT spending on groceries?

I had this question posed to me by a fellow colleague who was stumped as how we could live on $300/month for the two of us eating in groceries.

He says he spends about $700/month just for the two of them.

I basically said that all we buy is raw ingredients such as fruit, veggies and meat and some other basics like dairy.

He said: “Me too!

So I asked him where he shopped (turns out, we shop at the same grocery store).

I also mentioned that we don’t buy frozen food, dinners, cans or packages for the most part.

He said: “Me too!

Then he started listing out what he buys:

  • Fruits
  • Veggies
  • Bottled Sparking Water
  • Juice
  • Pop
  • Candy
  • Flowers for his wife
  • Chocolate
  • Tasty Bottled Sauces
  • …and they eat out once a week

That’s where the extra $400/month is going in their budget — the extras, and stuff that isn’t even ‘food’, like flowers.

So I thought it’d be fun to track what I do buy in a month:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Beef/Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Potatoes
  • Green Onions
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Soy Milk
  • Regular Milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Staple replenishment: Rice, Oatmeal, Pasta, Flour, Salt, Pepper, Spices, Olive Oil

And that’s about $70 a week on average, which BF considers high, and is pleading with me to eat less.

5 Things I do that I think works:

1. We never buy more than what we can eat in a week

Like stocking up our freezer? It’s not really in our habit to do that. We only buy what we need to eat for the week

2. We don’t buy a lot of meat

When I say beef or salmon, I mean one cut of beef that lasts a week (we’re trying to cut down on meat consumption) and salmon means just a palm-sized helping for the week.

We aren’t buying 5 packs of salmon for a meal each — I make it last by supplementing it with vegetables (raw sliced zucchini) and rice. It’s more filling and tastier to me to have different textures and flavours with a bit of salmon, than to just eat a hunk of salmon every day for the week.

3. We don’t buy the extras all the time

Chocolate, flowers, and treats? No way. If we ate ice cream every day (we do buy tubs on occasion), it’d stop being a treat and it’d become a habit. Plus, it’s not good for us.

If you think about a frozen dinner like a pizza costing $8 to buy, when the ingredients if you were to make it yourself might be only $3 (if you buy a hunk of salami or cheese, you don’t have to use it all on only one pizza), it becomes a lot harder to fork over the money.

4. We don’t eat out a lot

Lately, there hasn’t been any eating out AT ALL.

We have enough food at home for the whole week that we don’t need to (or want to) eat out. It’s not like we NEVER eat out, but we tend to prefer not to.

I am just not interested in paying $20 for a plate of spaghetti and meatballs that I can make at home for $5.

5. We eat a lot of staples

Rice, oatmeal, and pasta are the main sides to every dish. It helps give us a little extra fiber and filling, and I’m addicted to white rice.

I think all 5 tips that we employ in our grocery shopping each week, really helps us keep the costs down, and is probably the reason why we don’t spend a ton on groceries.

So what don’t you buy in your groceries?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.