An Honest Look at My Monthly Grocery Bill - The Financial Diet

An Honest Look at My Monthly Grocery Bill - The Financial Diet
From The Kitchn - October 10, 2017

Welcome to a column from The Financial Diet, one of our very favorite sites, dedicated to money and everything it touches. One of the best ways to take charge of your financial life is through food and cooking. This column from TFD founders Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage will help you be better with money, thanks to the kitchen. A version of this post originally appeared on The Financial Diet.

As someone who has lived away from her parents for less than a year, I am still trying to get into the groove of being in charge of all the responsibilities that were never really mine when I lived at home. Grocery shopping is probably the biggest one.

I contributed to my household once I got older and started earning more money, in that I would pick up groceries often (when I knew we ran out of things we needed, especially things I used the most), and by sharing meal-cooking duties with my mother.

When I moved in with my boyfriend, I reminded him that I was a novice homemaker and would need some assistance figuring out basic things, like how much food to buy at once so it does not spoil before we eat it, or how much pasta I need to cook for a meal for two people. Weirdly enough, although Drew is six years older than me and has lived on his own since his teenage years, he was not exactly sure where to start, either. He's been a busy guy over the past few years, and mostly cooked himself a morning omelette and a single sad chicken breast in the evening, supplementing with meals out when he did not have time to cook.

When I surveyed the empty fridge in our apartment the day I moved in, I decided that we needed to sit down and have a brainstorm session to plan out how we were going to grocery shop and cook meals as a two-person household. The system we came up with is not perfect, but it has not been a complete failure.

An Honest Look at My Monthly Grocery Bill

Essentially, we split our monthly grocery shopping between at least three different grocery stores in order to get the best deals on our food. Here is a breakdown of where we shop, how often we go there, what we buy there, and why.

1. BJ's: 3 times a month.

After a bit of trial and error, we decided that continuing to buy three thingseggs, avocados, and chickenat BJ's made sense. Most of our meals that involve meat are chicken-based (I am not a red-meat eater), and a package of 10 chicken breasts is wildly inexpensive there and lasts us a good while if we keep it frozen and take them out individually each day to thaw for dinner that night.

Avocados are sold in bulk bags of six for less than we would spend on two at any other local grocery store, so we get those there too, since they are a staple in Drew's low-carb diet. We also buy eggs there because we both like to eat them for breakfast in the morning, and 36 eggs at BJ's costs less than a dozen at our local ShopRite, so I feel good about that.

Total cost: We spend about $20 each time we go there, so around $60 per month at BJ's.

Read more: This Cult Favorite Store Is Even Better than Costco

Trader Joe's: 2 times a month.

I have started doing almost all of our non-bulk, regular grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. I go there about twice a month to pick up most of our staples. I like to buy fruits and vegetables there when I can because the prices are always great. Also, things like cereal, crackers, granola bars, oatmeal, and other various snacks cost way less than they do at other grocery chains. TJ knockoffs of name-brand cereals are also a dollar or two cheaper there, so I stock up on things like that whenever I have the chance.

However, I do not really buy meat there very much, just because I sometimes find it to be on the pricey side. Any meat that I pick up during the month besides the chicken we use is purchased elsewhere.

Total cost: Each time, my bill hovers around $60 and I always come home with a giant haul of stuff. This place is my home.

ShopRite or Big Y: 1 to 2 times a month.

How I am Changing the Way I Shop

1. Plan. A lot more.

2. Choose one grocery store.

3. Buy bulk wholesale items less often.


Continue reading at The Kitchn »