Tuesday, January 8, 2013

True Cost of Food

My friend, Kracinda, who is also a reader asked recently what I ACTUALLY spent on groceries, including all the bulk purchases in the summer for canning.

I thought it was a good question and kind of surprised myself by not knowing the answer.  I used to keep meticulous track of every line item in the budget, but a couple of years ago DH wanted to have more input and he reworked our budget Excel spreadsheet so that it made sense to him.  It didn't include a cumulative annual total for each line item like my old one did.

I also got my "own" checking account shortly after DH took a budget interest so that there would be far fewer line items in the budget.  All of the household expenses including groceries, stuff for the house, paper products, clothes, gifts, etc are now lumped into "Katie's Allowance" with a transfer to that other account.  I don't budget that account other than trying to keep my grocery spending to $60 each week.

  • I also have a bigger spending week now and then when a particular sale is too good to pass up and I stock up on something.  I SHOULD spend less on the other groceries that week or eat from the pantry & freezer the following week.  But in reality I just spend more on groceries that week.  
  • In addition to those bigger spending weeks I have a few really huge purchases for canning/preserving in late summer.  Usually $60 for blueberries, at least $100 for peaches, and varying amounts for apples & pears depending on what I want to can and what I can glean or am given by friends with trees.  
  • I also recently started getting milk delivery which runs $11.14 per week for very fresh, conventional instead of paying $10.78 at the store for two gallons of organic.  I'm still undecided on that, but am keeping the service for now.
  • There are also some small costs related to the garden, like buying compost and seeds.  And there are costs to canning, like buying seals.
All told I estimate that I spent between $4,000 and $4,300 on food in 2012 not including eating out.

But it's really bugging me that I don't know an exact number so a 2013 goal is to keep track of my ACTUAL spending on food.  I think I'll still try to spend $60/week on regular groceries plus the $11ish for milk delivery or milk if I end up switching back to purchasing.  I also want to set aside at least $10/week for bulk purchases in the summer.

Gah!  Am I making more work for myself or will this be good?  Plan each week: Get $80 cash out of bank.  $60 for groceries, $10 to set aside for summer produce, $10 for another cash stash or grocery overage.  Post here each Sunday night for accountability.




  1. Oops, didn't mean to make you crazy with that one! I was just sort of curious if you were way way under spending me in the grocery arena or if I was at least kind of close. :)

  2. Are you kind of close? And it's a good kind of crazy; my normal levels just pointed in this direction.

  3. I'm not sure. I lump all my grocery store / drug store / costco / target etc spending together and call it groceries. All together, it's WAY more than you. I have no idea what we spend on stuff we eat.


So, what do you think?