Thursday, April 30, 2015

Food Expenses Report: April 2015

My teen daughter moved in with us full time this month (before that she alternated weeks at her dad's and my house) so I fed 4 people this month (2 adults, 2 teens).

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 do pet food and cat litter.

I try to shop mostly 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. This month, I also shopped at Winn Dixie a bit.  I also shop for groceries at the Dollar Tree once in a while, and I used coupons there for the first time this past month. 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 the link to the March 2015 monthly recap. That post has links to my January-February recaps.

We started April with a lighter pantry than in the past as I had been using a lot of our staples, and a full freezer. Moreover, we have a small vegetable garden.  I decided to try to stick to a $50 weekly budget for April, although I knew that I might need to go over that amount at times in order to restock on staples.

So for April, my projected budget was $200 (down from $400 as the "official budget").  I spent 245.58, after rebates.  As projected, it ended up being higher than in the past 2 months because I needed to restock on some items but also because Greg changed his dietary habits and my daughter started living here full time, which resulted in my having to buy more of certain items than I had in the past (yogurts, eggs, almonds and apple juice, for instance).

I saved 48.15%  of my overall grocery bill with coupons and in-store promotions only (i.e. not including various rebates). Even though a lot of my shopping takes place at Aldi (they don't accept coupons), I was able to use $82.28 in manufacturer coupons at other stores, most of them printable coupons that I printed through Swagbucks, as well as several coupons for free items that manufacturers sent me (I find the links to request them via various blogs or coupon sites.)

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

  • My Publix and Winn-Dixie spending was up this month, fueled by several BOGO deals that were available at those stores. My Aldi shopping was just about the same (only a 2% increase), while my Save A Lot shopping went down by 15% as I shifted my spending to Publix and Winn Dixie.

I classify my groceries by categories every week, and here is the detail of how I spent that money (again, the graphs are based on data from YNAB, which doesn't keep track of rebates so they're not strictly accurate, but close enough. I keep track of the rebates separately in Excel):

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

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

Here is what $245.58 got me:

Baking Supplies
1 container frosting
5 lbs AP flour
4 lbs white sugar
1 can baking cocoa
12-can package of ginger ale
3 large hazelnut coffees
2 single-pot samples of Gevalia coffee
Breads/Baked Goods
6 loaves white bread
1 8-ct package of hamburger buns
1 8-ct package of hot dog buns
4 packages of Flatout artisan thin pizza crusts
1 30-ct package of corn tortillas
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

6 boxes Special K
2 boxes Frosted Mini Wheats
2 boxes Chocolate Lucky Charms
2 boxes Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch

2 cans Carnation evaporated milk
1 quart whole milk
3 gallons whole milk
2 lbs unsalted butter
1 16-oz container of heavy whipping cream
2 12-oz package American cheese slices
1 12-oz package of Galbani mozzarella
4 wedges Sargento Aged Cheddar
0.53 lb Boar's Head No Salt Added Swiss cheese
1 8-oz block of mozzarella
1 8-oz block of Monterey Jack
34 cups yogurt
1 cup Yoplait Greek 100 Whips yogurt
1 32-oz plain yogurt container

Dry/Pantry/Freezer Goods
2 jars marinara sauce
1  12-oz bottle Kraft mayo with olive oil
1 bottle EVOO
1 40-ct box Truvia sweetener
4 sample packets of PureVia sweetener
1 can Butterball chicken broth
2 8-oz cans no salt added tomato sauce
1 large can enchilada sauce
1 jar pizza sauce
1 can cannellini beans
4 cans diced chiles
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 16-oz package of wide egg noodles
2 packages plain couscous
1 package Seeds of Change Indian Rice Blend
1 bag Alexia potato puffs
1 bag Alexia sweet potato fries
1 bag Alexia Smart Classics potato fries

Fruit and Juice
17.43 lbs red grapes
29 lbs apples
8 quarts strawberries
2 pineapples
9.68 lbs bananas
1 cantaloupe
2 64-oz bottles organic apple juice

3 lbs sweet potatoes
8 lbs Russet potatoes
4 cucumbers
1.37 lbs Roma tomatoes
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 8-oz package mushrooms
3 Haas avocadoes
1 bag spinach
2 lbs carrots
1 lb dried lentils
2 cans black beans
10 dozens large eggs
3.48 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 10-oz package beef chorizo
4.27 lbs pork sirloin roast
1.07 lbs beef chuck steak
3 lbs ground beef
2 packages Hormel pepperoni
0.55 lb Boar's Head lower sodium turkey breast
0.26 lb Boar's Head turkey pastrami
1 9-oz container of oven roasted turkey breast
2 8-oz packages of Oscar Mayer oven roasted turkey breast
2 8-oz packages of Oscar Mayer ham
2 packages of Oscar Mayer Old World salami
2 packages of Nasoya Sesame Ginger TofuBaked tofu
1 3-oz package of Vita smoked salmon
5 jumbo chocolate muffins
1 jumbo blueberry muffin
1 large croissant
16 boxes Horizon graham crackers
2 jars Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams spread
2 jars creamy peanut butter
2 pints Ben & Jerry's ice cream
1 16-oz container walnuts
1 8-oz container sliced almonds
1 23.75-oz bag raw natural almonds
1 12-oz bag salted almonds
2 Cadbury chocolate creme eggs
1 9.9 oz M&M's
1 king size pack of M&M's
1 single pack of M&M's
1 Hershey chocolate bar
4 bottles Mentos gum
1 single package Juicy Fruit gum

I also harvested the following from my garden this month:
About 1.5 lbs of green beans
4 bunches of collard greens
29 jalapeƱos
3 green onions
1 small cabbage
1 green pepper
2 Ichiban eggplants
Some spinach
Some Swiss chard
A couple of handfuls of black raspberries
Mint, basil, thyme, dill, marjoram and rosemary


  • Since I had used up several staples from the pantry, it was time to restock, especially on baking supplies.  I bought sugar, flour, cocoa powder this month.
  • With Greg's diet changing, we spent more money on proteins (eggs, lunch meats), bread (toast in the morning, sandwiches for snacks), yogurt and apples.
  • My daughter came to live with us full time, which increased our food expenses overall, but especially our consumption of milk, almonds, apples and Special K.
  • Over 2/3 of our expenses this month (68%) came from Produce/Juice; Proteins, and Dairy Products.  I think that's a great ratio as those items are usually NOT processed foods!
  • We continue to use a lot of cheese. Somehow, the recipes that I pick very often end up containing shredded cheese of some kind.
  • We consumed a lot of fruit last month! Most notably: 29 lbs of apples, 17 lbs of grapes (they were very cheap!), almost 10 lbs of bananas, and 8 quarts of strawberries.
  • However, we didn't use a lot of vegetables. Well, not as much as we should have, probably.

The Plan for May:
  • I will be stocking up on foods and beverages from Save A Lot and Aldi to see Greg through the month of June and early July, when the kids and I will be gone.  Otherwise, he will go to Publix and not pay attention to prices at all and my food budget will be completely blown!
  • I've already prepped menus through early June.  I will be tweaking recipes so as to use up ingredients that we already have, as much as I can.
  • I do want to stock up on more ground beef and chicken breasts so I will be on the lookout for good prices on those (Save A Lot has the family packs of split chicken breasts for $1.49/lb for the next couple of weeks).
  • Our stock of pasta is getting low. If I can secure some at a great price (as in a BOGO sale at Publix with printable coupons), I will stock up. Otherwise, I need to make my own and possibly freeze them.
  • I want to make more pie crust patties and freeze them since I only have one left.
  • So I will try to stick to a weekly $50 budget as much as I can (I find that doing this prevents me from stocking up too much) but I won't feel guilty if I go "over budget" at times.
How did you do in April?  Are you sticking to your budget? Do you have a grocery shopping strategy?


  1. I can't believe all the food you got for so little $$$!!! Seriously, bravo! I also love how you break down all your categories - it provides such a great visual snapshot. I may "borrow" this whole idea from you to keep track of my May groceries, if you don't mind. I think it will help me too. =)

    1. Feel free to borrow all the ideas that you want! Doing those reports is time consuming but you know, it helps me see the big picture a little clearer and provides the motivation for the month ahead.

  2. I love the spreadsheets and charts. Those are neat! I am not sure that I want to see my charts right now :( I did just add up the month with a few last trips in at CVS so I am hoping to post soon and post pictures if I can find some :)

    1. I can't wait to see your post, Alison! You always find some great deals!


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