Monday, February 1, 2016

Monthly Grocery Budget Report: January 2016

I feed 2 adults and 2 teens.

My Food Expenses totals include just that: food.  Toiletries, cleaning supplies, health supplies, pet supplies and a host of other things you can get at grocery stores are NOT included in those totals. I really don't spend enough on them to make an effort to track them more than just having various categories for them in my Excel spreadsheet.

So I split my Food Expenses into Groceries and Eating Out/Ordering In.  "Groceries" only include the food I buy for meals and baking.  This is what I'm reporting on in this post.

Eating Out/Ordering In includes food that we bought because I was too lazy to cook, because we were traveling, because I wanted to treat someone, or because we were socializing. It also includes the money I put on the kids' school lunch accounts.  I track the Eating Out/Ordering In expenses separately and in a perfect world, they would be added up to my Groceries expenses and amount to no more than my monthly Food Expenses budget.   This month, we spent 156.58 in Eating Out/Ordering In.   


My official budget for 2016 is $100 per week for groceries. However, most weeks I try to stay at right about $50.  Some weeks it works out, but some weeks I allow myself to go over if I can stock up on items on sale.

Since I shop on Wednesdays, I usually count the number of Wednesdays in the month to see how many $100 weeks I will have in my budget for the month. If a week straddles two months, I count how many days of the week are in each month and the month with the most days wins.  January had 5 weeks for me, hence an official budget of $500.

I spent about $238, after all discounts, coupons, and rebates.  Yippee! In order to reach that number, I redeemed about $96 in coupons, whether it be manufacturer or store coupons.  ExtraCare Bucks, Register Rewards and the like count as coupons as far as I'm concerned. I  redeemed $163.53 in rebates (I count gift cards that I received in exchange for Reward points from my credit cards, as well as the Walmart gift card earned from Swagbucks, as rebates).

I usually do the bulk of my shopping at Aldi where I cannot use coupons, but this month I continued to capitalize on the gift cards that I received either via various reward programs so I shopped at CVS, Walmart, Target more than than I would do if I didn't have those gift cards. I was able to save 67.80% of my food bill by shopping sales, using coupons, and factoring in the rebates (Ibotta, Checkout 51, SavingStar, Snap and manufacturer rebates) and the gift cards.  This means that if I just bought the same items when I wanted without waiting for them to be on sale and/or to have coupons for them, I would have spent  $606.94.

Here is what I got for $238, broken down in my usual categories. As usual, the bulk of my dollars went to produce, dairy, and proteins.

4 lbs sugar

1 bottle white wine
1 bottle Sparkling Ice tea
1 XL Dunkin' Donuts coffee
1 6-pack Lager beers

3 loaves white bread
4 loaves wheat bread
2 loaves French bread
1 small wheat tortillas
1 pack wheat rolls
1 6-ct hoagie rolls
3 8-pack hamburger buns
2 Pillsbury Grands! Original

CEREALS: $10.58
5 boxes Special K
2 boxes Special K Red Berries
1 box Crunchy nuggets
6 boxes Grape Nuts
1 boxes Lucky Charms
2 boxes Honey Nut Cheerios
1 box Reese's Puffs
1 box Quick Oats
2 boxes Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Granola
6 boxes Bear Naked granola
1 box Cocoa Puffs
1 box Krave cereal

DAIRY: $25.07
6 gallons whole milk
1 gallon 2% milk
33 yogurt cups
2 4-ct Activia Light yogurt
1 Chobani Greek yogurt
1 32 oz plain yogurt
2 packages string cheese
2 8-oz mild cheddar
1 24-ct Kraft singles
1 canister Kraft parmesan
1 neufchatel cheese

3 cans soup
4 cans Campbell's Homestyle Healthy Request soup
5 can beef broth
1 32-oz carton beef broth
4 cans College Inn chicken broth
1 Better than Bouillon Beef
2 jars turkey gravy
1 24-oz bottle ketchup
1 bottle light soy sauce
1 container salt
1 chili powder
2 40-ct Zing sweetener packets
8 jars Bertolli pasta sauce
8 boxes Mueller's pasta
4 boxes Ronzoni pasta
1 XL Five Cheese pizza
1 container Italian bread crumbs
1 box Old El Paso taco shells
1 40-oz jar Reduced Fat peanut butter


1 cabbage (not weighed)
2.66 lbs cabbage
3 bags broccoli crowns
1 lb asparagus
1 jar minced garlic
5 lbs carrots
3 cucumbers
4 cans no salt added diced tomatoes
4 cans no salt added tomato sauce, 8 oz
2 cans mixed vegetables
2 cans great northern beans
2 cans dark red kidney beans
1 bunch kale
2.94 lbs rutabaga
5 lbs red potatoes
1 lb parsnips
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 8-oz containers Baby bella mushrooms
2 lbs sweet onions
1 3-ct multi peppers
1.37 lbs yellow squash

2 bottles organic apple juice
2 half gallons OJ
2 cans mandarin slices
15 lbs clementines/mandarins
16.45 lbs bananas
2 lbs pears
2 lbs lemons
2 quarts strawberries
2 6-oz containers raspberries
2 9-oz raspberries
6 lbs apples
4.85 lbs grapes
2 cantaloupes

PROTEINS: $79.32
1 box corn dogs
9 dozens large eggs
1 can tuna
6.59 lbs spiral sliced honey ham
18.35 lbs bone-in pork sirloin roast
1.85 lbs beef chuck steaks
5 lbs ground beef
5.17 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 20-oz taco seasoned ground turkey
1.64 lbs beef bottom round roast
4 packages Hormel Pepperoni slices
2 bags Armour meatballs
1 lb Black Forest ham
1 lb smoked ham
2 lbs oven roasted turkey
1 Oscar Mayer Selects smoked sausage
10 Monterey Chicken rolls
1 hot dog

SNACKS: $26.71
1 bag candy
4 boxes Swiss rolls
7 packages PB crackers
4 boxes protein bars
1 box buttery round crackers
2 pints Haagen Dazs ice cream
3 Snickers bar
1 Mounds bar
4 boxes Altoids
2 bags popcorn
1 bag PB filled pretzel nuggets
2 bags dried apricots
2 12-ct Poptarts
4 boxes Special K Red Berries cereal bars
1 Marzipan Stollen cake
2 packages Keebler cookies

  • As usual, the bulk of my spending was in the following categories:
    • produce/juice
    • proteins
    • dairy
  • I was able to stock up on meat and cereal, as well as resupply my pantry with some staples
  • I also treated the children to several snacks.  I didn't bake as much this past month since I was trying to be on a diet for half of it and lazy for the other half!

I feel very good about the amount of healthy food I was able to purchase.  I did get some unhealthy foods (Poptarts, the roller grill items, various snacks, some of the cereal) but I got tons of fruit and vegetables, both fresh and canned.  I'm also mostly pleased with our eating out expenses.  Most of them were justified and even though we were lazy on 2 occasions and spent money on food when we should have eaten at home, we remained under budget for the month.  I'm hoping to do even better in February since we're not celebrating any birthdays.

How did you do this month?  If you posted your January totals, feel free to link to your post in the comments :)


  1. I am so impressed by how much meat and cereal you get for such a small amount of money. As always I strive to do as well as you xx

    1. It really helps to shop several stores and try to only buy what they have for the best price at each store, something that can be very challenging if you work full-time. I think you are doing so well with trying to catch those yellow stickers at your local stores!

  2. Twenty-nine boxes of cereal at 36 cents a box. Okay, not bad. Lots of great deals on meat, produce and dairy.....impressive. But holy crap! Only $24 for all that food to fill your pantry. That is nothing to sneeze at. You just keep blowing me away.

    1. Ah Susan, you are so good for my ego, lol! I can't believe that you counted how many boxes of cereal and calculated their individual cost. I'm impressed too, now, hahaha.

  3. I love the totals with the coupons and the gift cards used because it really gives a good picture of how hard you work to get those grocery totals so low. Without all those gift cards, you would be at your max budget!! Amazing hard work on the shopping, couponing and lots of gift cards!! I wish that I could do that part of it but I am working on it :) I will never have $200 of gift cards/ECBs in a month though :) I am still hoping for $25!!!

    1. Thanks Alison! I'll never be able to get the great deals that you get with your Super Duper Double Coupons but I can do THAT. It would be interesting to see how much all of that would cost me if I bought it all at Aldi and didn't have to deal with coupons/apps/Swagbucks. I think it'd probably be close to the full price value since I already do so much of my shopping there, but then I could save myself 3 hours of shopping a week. So let's assume I would save 13 hours per month (4.33 weeks on average), but I would pay $368.94 MORE in groceries (based on this past month) or $28.38/hour. Hey, that's a pretty good hourly rate! For every hour that I shop, I save $28. So I think doing all that going from store to store and using sales/coupons/rebates and earning those Swagbucks is definitely worth my time since my time isn't being compensated in paycheck anyway :)


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