Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Grocery Budget Report: March 2015

I feed 2 adults and 1 teen every week, with a second teen (my daughter), being here every other week. So, in essence, I feed 3.5 people :)

My planned budget for 2015 is $100 a week FOR GROCERIES ONLY.  Due to being fully stocked and making my own products too, I rarely buy toiletries or cleaning products and they get their own budget lines.  So does pet food.

I try to mostly shop at Aldi, but I also hunt deals and use coupons at the other stores that I frequent: Save A Lot, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and Publix.  I also shop for groceries at the Dollar Tree once in a while, although I haven't tried using coupons there yet.Lastly, I use apps like Checkout 51, SavingStar, and Snap by Groupon to reduce my costs, as well as manufacturer rebates and loyalty programs (CVS ExtraCare, Walgreens Balance Rewards) and special offers on my credit cards.

Here is a post where I recapped my January and February grocery expenses.

We started the month with a fully stocked pantry and freezer. Moreover, we have a small vegetable garden.  I had thus decided to try to stick to a $50 weekly budget for March.  I could have probably gone lower, but that would preclude me from stocking up on deals when I come across them so I feel comfortable with $50.

So for March, my projected budget was $200 (down from $400 as the "official budget").  I spent 199.59, after rebates.  It's a little higher than what I spent in February ($181.65) because I had less of the American Express $200 statement credit to apply this month (and now it's all gone!).

I saved about 31.20%  of my grocery bill with coupons and in-store promotions only (i.e. not including various rebates). This is markedly lower than the previous months.  I find myself using fewer coupons as I increase my Aldi shopping (they don't accept coupons).

Here is the breakdown of where You Need A Budget says I spent my grocery money this month (this doesn't include the rebates, so the total spent amount is higher than my actual total):

  •  My Aldi spending is down by 7% compared to February and Save A Lot is up by 19%. Publix is down by 4% and Target by 3%. This doesn't mean all that much, since those totals do include coupons, but it still fun for me to see where I spend the most every month and how little I spent at each store! 

I classify my groceries by categories every week, and here is the detail of how I spent that money:

and this is a January-March comparison, by category:

I like this view because I can see in which categories I spend the most and my patterns.

Here is what $199.59 got me:
Baking Supplies
1 box light brown sugar
1 bag shredded sweetened coconut
2 boxes cupcake mix
2 containers frosting
1 100-ct box green tea bags
1 12-can box ginger ale
3 boxes herbal peppermint tea
Breads/Baked Goods
5 loaves butterbread
3 loaves white bread
1 loaf rye bread
4 packages brown & serve rolls

1 canister quick oats
4 Kelloggs Strawberry Frosted Mini Wheats
4 bags Malt O Meal Cocoa Dyno-Bites
2 boxes Marshmallow & Stars
2 boxes Lucky Charms

2 gallons skim milk
4 gallons whole milk
23 cups yogurt
1 16-oz container light sour cream
2 lb butter
1 margarine
1 smoked gouda
2 8-oz block Monterey Jack cheese
1 8-oz block Swiss cheese
1 8-oz block mozzarella cheese
1 8-oz block cheddar cheese
2 packages Cracker Barrel sharp Cheddar slices
2 12-oz package American cheese slices
2 packages Neufchatel cheese

Dry/Pantry/Freezer Goods
4 cans black beans
1 can refried beans
2 cans pinto beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 can no salt added corn kernels
4 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 29 oz cans Hunt's pasta sauce
1 cup microwaveable Riceroni
2 jars minced garlic
3 cans chopped green chiles
1 can Progresso soup
4 cans Carnation evaporated milk
1 jar organic coconut oil
1 box mac'n cheese
6 bottles salsa verde
1 40-ct box PureVia sweetener
1 bottle Mirin cooking wine
Fruit and Juice
1 pineapple
19 lbs apples
5 quarts strawberries
8.45 lbs bananas
8.51 lbs grapes
1 6-oz container Driscoll's raspberries
1 pint blueberries
1 cantaloupe
2 cans Dole pineapple chunks
2 46-oz can Dole pineapple juice

1 sleeve celery
2 bags spinach
1.57 lbs sweet potatoes
1 cucumber
2 green peppers
0.75 lbs green beans
1.21 lbs zucchini
0.69 lbs Roma tomatoes
2 lbs carrots
1 lb asparagus
2 bags sweet mini peppers
1 bunch cilantro
1 package baby Bella mushrooms
2 lbs sweet onions
9 dozen eggs
3 smoked turkey sausages
1 12-oz package bacon
1 pork and bacon ground sausage roll
2 20-oz packages ground turkey
0.29 lbs beef bottom round steak
2 packages JustBARE chicken drumsticks
1 lb frozen salmon fillets
0.51 lbs beef tip minute steak
4 packages Maple Turkey Breast
3 packages Black Forest Ham
1 container ham
3 bags tortilla chips
1 23.75 oz whole natural almonds
2 10-oz containers roasted almonds with sea salt
2 jars chocolate hazelnut spread
1 candy bar
3 chocolate cream donuts
2 boxes vanilla wafers
4 packages peanut butter and cheese crackers
6 packages peanut butter crackers
2 2-ct packages Altoid mints
1 single package gum

I also got the following food for free this month (in addition to other coupon freebies already included above), either because of codes being redeemed or because Greg brought it back from his parents' RV:

1 large croissant (Racetrac survey code)
12 jumbo chocolate muffins (Racetrac survey codes)
1 jumbo blueberry muffin (Racetrac survey code)
2 cans garbanzo beans (Greg's parents' RV)
1 can black eyed peas (Greg's parents' RV)
1 can black beans (Greg's parents' RV)
2 cans chicken broth (Greg's parents' RV)
1 large can tuna (Greg's parents' RV)
1 small bag flavored coffee (Greg's parents' RV)
1 pepper grinder (Greg's parents' RV)
1 container red pepper flakes (Greg's parents' RV)
1 bottle Colavita EVOO (Greg's parents' RV)
1 box organic Chai tea bags (Greg's parents' RV)


  • This month, my protein expenses were higher because I stocked up on several meat clearance items and also Greg started eating more eggs. 

  • I continue to be dismayed at how much I spend on "snacks".  This is really something that I can get under control as I'm home all day and I can easily bake. However, if I bake, I will probably eat more too!  A large part of the snack expenses, though, go to almonds, which my daughter likes to snack on. I only buy them when I can get good deals on them, but they're still expensive.

  • Our bread expenses could be reduced as well, as I have found a way to make sandwich bread that the kids actually like (I bake the boule bread dough from "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day" in a loaf pan).  However, I also tend to eat a good percentage of each loaf (who can resist fresh warm bread? Not me!) and I need to lose weight. 

  • Although I did harvest collard greens, tomatoes and jalapeƱos this month, my garden hasn't started producing enough to reduce our vegetable expenses.

The Plan for April:
  • I will spend no more than $50 a week again in April.

  • As my daughter plans on living here full-time starting in April, the food expenses might go up, especially in the "snacks" category, due to the cost of the almonds she likes so much.  I will balance this with healthy homemade snacks.

  • Of course, baking more bread and baked goods means that our electric bill will go up. I tried baking the bread in the crockpot once but I wasn't very happy with the result. I need to try it again.

  • I will continue to shop my pantry/freezer/fridge first and strive to waste no food.  I have already made menus for the month of April and will substitute ingredients where I can to minimize my out of pocket expenses.
How did you do in March?  Are you sticking to your budget? Do you have a grocery shopping strategy?


  1. Thanks so much for the detailed anaylsis of March! I love posts like this as it helps get my brain flowing about where I can do (much) better with my own grocery budget. I downloaded the apps you mentioned above as well. Hopefully I'll start getting some rebates soon too!

    1. I'm glad you find this helpful :) I'm very visual so it helps me too. Even though everyone's situation and tastes are different and prices vary so much from one state to the next, I love reading other bloggers' reports because very often I find a spark of inspiration to improve my own way of doing things. Good luck!


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