We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
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gardemanger
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by gardemanger » Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:03 am

stoptothink wrote:
livesoft wrote: Also noticed I did not buy any gasoline last month.


We spend nearly twice as much on gas as we do on food. My office is 4 miles away, even driving the gas-drinking crown victoria, a tank will last me almost an entire month. My wife, on the other hand, has to fill up at absolute minimum twice a week in the 30+mpg Hyundai. She's put 30,000+ miles on the car in the last year; she's the state director for her program so there are weeks when she visits Logan (in the north) and St. George (in the south) which are 400 miles apart.


And of course she is getting a mileage reimbursement??

sdrone
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by sdrone » Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:37 am

I don't see a ton of mentions about coupons. We spend about what you spend, probably less, on a family of 4. Hard to tell exactly as your grocery store spending includes non-food items.

Do you use coupons? My wife saves a minimum of $100/month using coupons. Wednesdays are double coupon days at Mariano's (for any coupon up to $1), if there is one near you. It's also awesome-ribeye-sandwich-lunch-deal day there.

Mariano's prices are starting to go up; their prices on many items have been lower than normal as they work to build business in the area.

lightheir
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by lightheir » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:10 am

sdrone wrote:I don't see a ton of mentions about coupons. We spend about what you spend, probably less, on a family of 4. Hard to tell exactly as your grocery store spending includes non-food items.

Do you use coupons? My wife saves a minimum of $100/month using coupons. Wednesdays are double coupon days at Mariano's (for any coupon up to $1), if there is one near you. It's also awesome-ribeye-sandwich-lunch-deal day there.

Mariano's prices are starting to go up; their prices on many items have been lower than normal as they work to build business in the area.


Coupons often don't cover the exact items you want/need, and by shopping correctly and moving the diet away from prepackaged foods and toward whole ingredients like produce and meats, you'll probably save more than the coupons anyway.

For busy folks like myself, the time required to find/cut coupons is completely out of proportion to the cost of the time I lose doing it. Of course, if you find this activity fun, by all means do it!

stoptothink
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by stoptothink » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:44 am

gardemanger wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
livesoft wrote: Also noticed I did not buy any gasoline last month.


We spend nearly twice as much on gas as we do on food. My office is 4 miles away, even driving the gas-drinking crown victoria, a tank will last me almost an entire month. My wife, on the other hand, has to fill up at absolute minimum twice a week in the 30+mpg Hyundai. She's put 30,000+ miles on the car in the last year; she's the state director for her program so there are weeks when she visits Logan (in the north) and St. George (in the south) which are 400 miles apart.


And of course she is getting a mileage reimbursement??


She receives $200/month stipend regardless of miles driven, which covers less than half of her fuel costs. Even accounting for this, gas is always a bigger monthly expense than food. Then we get into the wear and tear on the vehicle caused by 30k+ miles a year. There is a company car (which is filled with the company CC), but since the company is centered in Utah and the state accounts for 75% of the company's workforce and revenue, the CEO usually has it 3wks/month. She enjoys her job, but that is a raw deal.

dolphinsaremammals
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:05 pm

stoptothink wrote:
gardemanger wrote:
And of course she is getting a mileage reimbursement??


She receives $200/month stipend regardless of miles driven, which covers less than half of her fuel costs. Even accounting for this, gas is always a bigger monthly expense than food. Then we get into the wear and tear on the vehicle caused by 30k+ miles a year. There is a company car (which is filled with the company CC), but since the company is centered in Utah and the state accounts for 75% of the company's workforce and revenue, the CEO usually has it 3wks/month. She enjoys her job, but that is a raw deal.


I think business mileage can go on 1040 Schedule A, presumably with an adjustment for the $200.

Has she spoken to her boss about this? Bringing along some documentation of miles driven.

dolphinsaremammals
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:07 pm

sdrone wrote:Do you use coupons? My wife saves a minimum of $100/month using coupons.


Periodically I rummage through coupon flyers in the newspaper, but I rarely find coupons for anything I normally buy.

I'm not sure what to think about printable coupons. I see signs in some stores saying they don't accept them.

stoptothink
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by stoptothink » Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:47 pm

dolphinsaremammals wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
gardemanger wrote:
And of course she is getting a mileage reimbursement??


She receives $200/month stipend regardless of miles driven, which covers less than half of her fuel costs. Even accounting for this, gas is always a bigger monthly expense than food. Then we get into the wear and tear on the vehicle caused by 30k+ miles a year. There is a company car (which is filled with the company CC), but since the company is centered in Utah and the state accounts for 75% of the company's workforce and revenue, the CEO usually has it 3wks/month. She enjoys her job, but that is a raw deal.


I think business mileage can go on 1040 Schedule A, presumably with an adjustment for the $200.

Has she spoken to her boss about this? Bringing along some documentation of miles driven.


It's better for us to not itemize, so it's a sunk cost. It's a never-ending discussion, she works for a company that is well known to take care of their employees in every way but compensation. It's a great place to work, except come payday. Thankfully it will no longer be an issue as she accepted a new job which she will be starting 1st of November. Am interested to hear what they offer her when she gives notice as she will not be easily replaced (she's been employee of the month at least half a dozen times over the past two years in an organization with over 200 employees and holds every sales record)....but, she is going into pharm sales, so not sure how much the driving will ultimately decrease, but the compensation potential is exponentially higher.

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Meg77
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by Meg77 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:16 pm

I just want to comment because I seem to be in the minority, along with you, when it comes to overspending in this budget category. In the interest of making you feel better, my husband and I (no kids) spend more than you do. In the last 5 months (the amount of time we've been married), we have averaged $2,053 a month on food and dining - and I actually don't purchase much non-food at the grocery (except for alcohol). Here's the breakdown:

$746 at Restaurants (this includes the alcohol portion of the tab)
$669 on Groceries (Whole Foods almost exclusively; this covers most of our dinners, most of my lunches and breakfasts, and some wine purchases)
$288 on Bars/Alcohol (wine club membership, liquor store, and purchases at bars/restaurants when food wasn't consumed)
$341 on Fast Food (almost entirely my husband's lunches out, plus some coffee shop expenses and the occasional pizza delivery)

In my very limited defense, these figures include our expenses when we travel, and we do end up expensing some of that restaurant tab through our employers (I try to code those reimbursable via Mint but don't always catch them all). Also we do not have much of an entertainment budget; instead of concerts or movies, we love to try that new restaurant or meet friends for happy hour on a patio. I also meet a friend at the dog friendly coffee shop around the corner many mornings when I don't have to be at work early. These indulgences could easily be cut, as could our travel budget, but in our first year of marriage we are opting to enjoy those expenses while we can before we have kids and all that money gets transferred to child care and diapers.

Granted we eat (and drink) very well, and I am willing to pay more for a varied diet free of chemicals, hormones, antibiotics and additives. Still, I could and should make some easy substitutions to save a chunk of money. Less (wild caught) salmon, more (organic free range) chicken; less fruit, more veggies; etc. Cutting even healthy processed food is a no brainer as well. Peanut butter on whole grain bread is nutritionally similar to an energy bar but a fraction of the cost. Making red beans and rice yourself takes awhile but it freezes well and you can make 16 servings for the price of one box of the more convenient stuff that is simply pre-boiled rice and less-fresh seasonings. Real food is surprisingly cheap I've found, if you're willing to eat it - and it can be just as convenient. A $3.99 tub of organic greens makes us 3 salads and is much easier to throw together than the easiest boxed potato or macaroni side (not to mention healthier).
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

acollazo2
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Re: We have a grocery problem... [Household budget]

Post by acollazo2 » Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:18 pm

Two things that save us a ton of time and money are a rice cooker and a slow cooker. I care about organics, so I try to buy what I can organic. However, I don't want to spend the same as my mortgage on groceries. We are a family of five. Our boys are 7, 6 and 4. I buy a 20 lb bag of organic rice every 3-4 months. We eat a lot of rice here.
Sunday- we had rice and black beans made with sofrito and optional sour cream. I have a 10 cup rice cooker and make a ton so I can use leftovers for fried rice later. The rice cooker is literally dump ingredients and walk away.
Monday- I roasted a whole chicken ( I can buy a natural antibiotic free chicken for around $5 that will easily feed us w/leftovers). I served this with roasted red potatoes and green beans. If you don't want to roast in the oven just dump it in the crockpot.
Tuesday- I used the leftover rice, leftover chicken and a bag of frozen organic peas, carrots and corn to make fried rice (no egg-my eldest is allergic :D ) Takes maybe 10 minutes to cook.
Wednesday- I brown 2 lbs of ground beef. This is the most expensive because our grassfed/organic beef is like $6-7 per lb. I use 1 lb that night and we have tacos with all the fixin's.
Thursday- I am using the other 1lb and cooking spaghetti. I just add a jarred sauce and boil noodles. Easy peasy! Serving with a salad.

I don't buy drinks other than milk and I buy tea bags to make tea. My kids take simple lunches to school-pb and j, apples, grapes, thermos of milk. Sometimes a Cascadian Farm granola bar. Obviously, if you are against carbs, this would not work at all.

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