Arghh!! $450 Spent On Groceries?!

by Katy on November 7, 2008 · 10 comments




I spent some time this evening going through last month’s bank statement.

I was hoping to find a dramatic decrease in food expenditures, and was disappointed to see that my family of four spent $450 on groceries in October. (Although some of this may not have been food, as one of the supermarkets we frequent sells a lot of non-food items.)

I think this was due to focusing on healthy food above cheap food. I used to be wholly focused on the cheap, such as 28 cent boxes of off-brand macaroni and cheese, but they no longer seem to be sneaking into my grocery cart.

Even though this averaged out to $3.64 per person per day, I would still like to see that number go lower.

So I started going through statements from the last year.

I was struck by how even eating out once or twice per month really added up, and began to feel kind of down. 

Then I started to notice what wasn’t on the statements.

  • My last haircut (the only store bought haircut for the four of us) was in February, and it was $8.99 including a $3 tip.
  • We only went to one first run movie. (Iron Man?)
  • Not one penny was spent in a mall.
  • The only drive-through was a $1.02 cup of McDonald’s coffee, bought to keep me awake on a long car trip.
  • There was no internet shopping.

This, I can be proud of. 

I will continue to work on decreasing money spent on groceries, but I think I’ll try and be a little less hard on myself. 

Because I would hate to go back to that macaroni and cheese.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

jinger November 8, 2008 at 7:02 am

I have a family of 2 and my grocery bill keeps climbing. I have eliminated so much…no wine purchases for me, no dry cereal, soda, chips or snacks of any kind and I buy only basics for healthy living. The dog is also included in my bill as she eats a better brand of food.

Yikes, what to do…come spring container gardening is on my list of projects…if only I can get vegetables to grow in our extremely hot summer climate.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl November 8, 2008 at 10:26 am

I have to work pretty hard to feed the six of us(two of us are very small people, though…ages 2 and 4), on $80-$100 a week, so I don’t think you should feel too bad, honestly.

Like you, I could feed us on less, but then I’d have to give up more fresh and healthy items in exchange for not so nutritious stuff.


Mrs Green November 9, 2008 at 12:37 am

Gosh, I spend that in POUNDS over here LOL! To feed four of you on $3.64 each a day sounds amazing to me. I’d be very happy (no, astonished!) if I could do that.
I COULD do it, if I bought cheap ‘value’ food, but I prioritise organic food, so it can’t be done.

Great successes on the places where you have cut back on though – really well done 🙂


Tara November 9, 2008 at 2:28 am

We spend that on our family monthly. There are now five eating and with the baby starting to try food I am very strict on where and how it came to be. I do beans and rice on Mondays it is a tradition in New Orleans because that was the day they would do the wash. That meal cost around 3.00 total so it save and my husband takes leftovers to work for lunch.
I think prioritizing healthy food is most important and your bill really depends on where you live and your cost of groceries. I am always trying to cut down on our monthly food expenditure behind our mortgage it is our largest monthly bill.
Good luck I look forward to reading your tips.


Gerard kiernan November 9, 2008 at 5:01 am

Hi Katy-
I am in the middle of reading Marion Nestle’s book ‘What to Eat’. She talks a lot about the food industry , and how all the incentives and government subsidies are aligned to get you to buy and consume MORE. Looks like it may be your next library book…..

I enjoy the frequent posts. You are mostly soooo right, but sometimes a little scary. I can identify with that!

Seems to me that consumption is not so much the issue as mindless consumption. Hopefully I will learn to consume mindfully, yet not obsessively. Boddhisattva!

To be able to live mindfully in a time of information and advertisement overload, I suspect I will need to reduce the amount of stuff entering my ears , eyes and head. Don’t worry, your blog makes the cut.

My lovely wife has convinced me that spending $330 on a pair of primo Celtics tickets for our son and me to go for his birthday is worth it. Crazy! But after thinking about it, she is right.

It is like those old cereal ads: ‘part of a balanced breakfast’


thenonconsumeradvocate November 9, 2008 at 11:36 am


I put “What To Eat” on hold at the library.

Thanks for the tip.

Have fun at the basketball game. Go Celtics!

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate

P.S. Thanks for the “a little scary” comment. I try my best.


thepennypincher November 9, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Here is a question: why do people pay more for organic? Is it really better? Here is an interesting article on the topic:

There is also the problem: is the organic label really accurate? Where is the guarantee that the “organic” was respected from the farm to the supermarket? Where is the guarantee that the label is accurate as opposed to a marketing ploy? Where is the guarantee that the distributor didn’t top up the organic box with non-organic produce? Where is the guarantee that the supermarket didn’t mix in some non-organic produce with the organic?

Simply put, given that you are not getting a better product is it worth paying a premium for something that may not necessarily even be organic or wholly organic?


Isabelle November 9, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for your interesting blog. I get a lot of inspiration from it. I think that the increase in your food bills is not only due to more eating out.

Like everybody on the planet, you and I have to face the increasing price of food, which is creating real hunger in some parts of the world.

Apparently, growing corn to produce subsidized ethanol is using land that would otherwise be planted with cereals. Since less cereals are produced, price is going up. Not to mention the price of oil in the last months.

Look at this graph:

From this article:


Grace November 10, 2008 at 10:32 am

I ‘ld like to figure out how exactly I’m failing when it comes to groceries. For a family of three I spend close to $800 a month.

I use coupons when applicable.
Buy generic when tolerable.
Shop sales when available.
Shop discount if local.
Don’t buy prepared foods.
Don’t buy over processed or over packaged goods. Eat animal flesh only twice a week.
Eat lots of beans and grain dishes.
Buy few toiletries and cleaning supplies (vinegar and baking soda have many jobs in my home).
Allow for $20 a week for junk food ( my husboand can’t survive the week with out his ice cream and tortilla chips)

So, any thoughts? I’ld really hate to give up eating any fresh produce. Outside of our mortgage this is our family’s biggest monthly expense.

P.S. My first time visiting your blog. It will keep me inspired to continue reducing my family’s consumption. Any ideas to helping your teen see the bigger picture?


Heidi November 14, 2008 at 5:02 pm

I work very hard to keep my grocery bill (family of 4) under $100/week. I cut coupons, watch sales, and stock up when items are on sale. I maintain a price list to keep track of what’s a good price (can’t possibly remember them all). I get plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, and not much processed food. Coupons are very good with non-food items like soap, shampoo, detergent, OTC meds, etc. I often get stuff for free, with coupons. A good place to start with this is It’s worth paying the few dollars just to get going with it, and eventually you won’t need to pay for the service anymore.
Also, consider shopping at places like RiteAid and CVS, you can do pretty well there. An example – this week RiteAid had Celestial Seasonings herb tea on sale for 99 cents, and I had a bunch of 55 cent coupons. So, a box of CS tea for 45 cents. Can’t beat that. My whole family drinks tea, plus I will use these for holiday gifts.


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