Slashing Our Grocery Bill: Even More Progress

>> Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You may remember that last week, we made some major progress in cutting back on our weekly food spending. Now, I cannot seem to locate our receipt from Sunday's grocery shopping spree at Wegmans. If I had it, you'd see a big fat $83.87 (or something very close to that), and I'm sure you'd all gasp in horror. Hold on, hold on. It's really not that bad. To get the "true" grocery bill, we must first subtract the non-grocery items from this sky-high total.

These items include beer (Ithaca Pale Ale at $9.50, we include this in our "entertainment" fund, which is separate from our grocery budget) -- so we're at $74.37; face wash ($7.00 for some natural tea tree oil cleanser because my skin is AWFUL!) -- so we're at $67.37; contact solution ($3.00) -- $64.37; and toilet paper ($11.00 because we buy in bulk) -- so we're at $53.37.

That's right: only $53.37! We're getting closer to our goal of $50 per week. And this is down from nearly $100 only a couple weeks ago. Are we suffering? No. But let's take a step back for a moment and see what exactly we did to limbo this low.

This week, we focused on planning ahead. Before we went to the store, I sketched out a tentative meal plan for the week. I was quite generous with my outline. We'd have potato and leek soup one night. Pizza another (I have three rounds of dough frozen). Chili for double-duty dinners again. And two tasty tofu stir-fry meals. When we got the store, however, I found so much fancy produce! We did indulge in our usual avocado treat again -- spent $10 for six. A bit shameful, but we love them too much to say no.

We also practiced some restraint with items like Earth Balance and coconut oil. I've still been baking, but instead of stocking my pantry with every single ingredient needed to make my own bake sale, I'm trying to prioritize. I'm trying to use up what I have. I'm trying not to spend a fortune on chocolate chips. I said no to the Earth Balance and coconut oil for this reason. I can use canola oil. Or perhaps wrap my mind around some new recipes that don't require such ingredients. And life will go on.

We've also been eating more vegan-ly. We only bought one 2-cup package of shredded mozzarella for the week. The rest of our loot was totally vegan. No cheddar to melt into the chili? Nutritional yeast serves as a tasty substitute. No eggs? Not this week. But just because we're shopping more vegan doesn't mean we're investing in pricey substitutes. The only thing we do that with is soy milk. Otherwise, it's shopping the perimeter of the store (we covered this tip last week), and buying the freshest, least-packaged ingredients as possible.

Anyway, we're doing it. I do notice, however, that we're running low on certain items we typically find plentiful (like various flours, other baking ingredients, etc.). We'll see how this impacts our bill next week when we head to the store. We're also trying to hit up some suggested stores and farmers markets over the weekend between various activities (we're both running a 15K on Sunday afternoon). Wish us luck. And if any of you have any more tips to share, we'd love to hear 'em. Just leave a comment or email us at

Just remember: Eating well need not cost a fortune. We're doing it -- and we're full. In fact, on the $53 or so we spent this week, we even have MORE than we need. Just examine your cupboards and take note of what you're stashing away in your cart. Before you know it, you'll be on your way to saving big bucks!

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