Monday, October 15, 2012

Reducing the grocery bill

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been thinking of ways we will save money when I go on mat leave as I will be making 60% less a month. One of the largest variable expenses that I think will be affected will be our food budget. Currently I allow for $550 in our budget for groceries and restaurants, although I just added up what we spent last month and it came to $760 so apparently I've been a little to flexible in following my budget.

Also the majority of that is because we've been eating out too much. One of the main reasons has been my husband does not cook (he'll vacuum, clean toilets, litter boxes, laundry, etc but the kitchen duties scare him) and during my first trimester the idea of preparing food was enough to make me nauseous. I only just started cooking again last week.

I want to reduce our budget to $350/month while on mat leave. Do you think this is realistic for 2 adults? I'm also basing the budget on the assumption that I'll be breastfeeding for the first year, obviously if I have to supplement with formula this amount will have to increase or I will have to starve!

My steps to reducing our food budget are:
  1. Reducing 'eating out' to once a month if we have a social event to attend, otherwise $0
  2. Meal Planning and bulk cooking/freezer cooking
    1. Many of my grocery trips are last minute grabs because I could decide what to eat and then I purchasing things based on convenience, regards cost
    2. A lot of our groceries spoil and go to waste because I don't get around to making what I thought I would that week.
    3. Cooking in bulk and freezing the extras help with the nights that I don't want to cook and allows me to take advantage of the bulk savings.
  3. Grocery Shopping with a list and cross referencing sales flyers before going so that I don't subcome to impulse buys and take advantage of the best prices
  4. Actively using couponing and point collection programs. I don't think I'll every be an 'extreme' couponer with a stock pile in my basement but using coupons on my regular purchases only make sense
    1. We have a PC Mastercard that we collect points that can be redeemed at Superstore for cash to pay for groceries. 20,000 points equals $20 as the minimum redemption and every 10,000 points more that we have at the time relates to $10. PC points don't offer 'better deals' as your points balance increase so it doesn't really matter when we redeem although Superstore isn't our primary grocery store so I would like to plan when we shop, like once a month when the points are added after a statement is issued.
    2. I finally signed up for a Sobey's club card. There are rumors that the construction site a block from our house will be a Sobey's which will make it our closest grocery store so I'd be ridiculous not to have a card. Sobey's club points DO offer 'better deals' as yours points balance increases so when the teller tells you, "you have $5 would you like to redeem?" say No Thank You!
      • Basically 725 points will get you $5.00 BUT 12,500 points will get you $100. If you were to redeem at $5.00 every time the teller told you that's how much you had, you would have had to have collected 14,500 points to reach the $100 of savings. That's an extra 2,000 points ($15) that you wasted!
      • Sobey's offers Bonus Points coupons which help get to your points goal faster.
    3. We also have a Shopper's Drug Mart Optimum card that I rarely use but their points system is much like Sobeys and their sales flyers tend to have some great sales so I plan to pay more attention there. Shopper's also sells grocery items so I can redeem the points once I hit the max to help reduce my budget line
      • Along with bonus points, Shopper's also has events where point redemption actually are valued higher, watching for these will maximize the grocery budget that month!
Another point that I'm considering is the Making at Home versus the Buying option. I've read articles where making bread is better then buying because bought bread is $4+ a loaf versus the $1 a loaf to make it but I usually get my bread around the $2 range. There are other items that are suggested as being cheaper, not to mention healthier as you know whats going in them, to make at home rather then purchasing premade. Frosting, guacamole, hummus, pasta sauce, etc.

Is there anything you make from scratch because its cheaper?

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