Grocery Shopping Blues

Today, I’m the epitome of Mothers Who Do Too Much. Due to poor scheduling and a backlog of household tasks, here’s what I have on for the day:

  1. Grocery shopping (at two different stores)
  2. Laundry (six loads)
  3. Dentist appointments for me and the older two kids
  4. Gal Smiley and Captain Jelly Belly’s first soccer game of the season
  5. Evening powerwalk with the ladies on the street

All this on top of the usual making of meals, tidying of meals, homework, and shouting at Little Miss Sunshine to PUT IT DOWN. It’s a busy day.


My grocery shopping trips lately have been guilt-ridden and confusing. My problem is that I have been reading Muddy Boots and Amy has been making a series of amazing posts featuring her weekly groceries and the meals that go with them.

She has managed to cut her grocery bill down to $100 or less per week. That boggles my mind. I can literally see the food she buys in photographic form, I can see the meals she makes with it, and yet, I can’t wrap my head around it.

I’m ashamed to say this, but here goes…I spend about $250 per week on our family’s groceries. That includes all our toiletries, so things like toothpaste and shampoo, diapers for the Little Miss, toilet paper, and nutritional supplements for the Captain.

But even if I took all that kind of stuff away, I’m sure we spend close to $200 per week on food alone. That’s double what Amy spends on her family, which is the same size as ours and features three boys of about the same age as our own kids. What the hell is up?

So now when I visit the grocery store, I find I’m constantly second guessing myself. I feel a little embarrassed at the stuff I’m throwing in the cart. I feel ashamed when I pull out my ten bags and two bins at the checkout.

I guess it’s good to be thinking about how to spend less, especially with Sir Monkeypants’ job always in danger. A couple of years ago I did some research and identified the Superstore as having the overall best prices — maybe not the best on a specific item, but low enough and competitive enough that I felt confident shopping for everything there on a regular basis. I also went to a meal plan, to cut down on our food waste.

Another thing we did was buy a big freezer, so we could stock up on favourite foods when they went on sale, and also so we could freeze more leftovers and save them for another meal.

Now, though, I feel like I should be doing something more.

I couldn’t possibly bring myself to list or display my weekly groceries online, because I know I’d be opening myself up to all kinds of comments like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you feed your children Vegetable Thins!” which I know I just could not take. But here are a few things off the top of my head that I think I could do to save on our grocery bill:

  • Stop buying individual yogurts. We usually buy the small little yogurts because it’s easier for Little Miss Sunshine to feed herself. I think she can handle a bowl now, though, so time to move to the bulk size. I should also probably start buying a cheaper brand — we buy a very expensive brand because it’s the only kind Gal Smiley will eat, but she’s kind of off yogurt these days anyway, so I think I’ll try the Little Miss on something new.
  • Put fresh fruit instead of dried fruit in the kids’ snack boxes. Fresh fruit isn’t always that cheap, especially in the winter, but I think it is cheaper than dried.
  • Try some different brands of juice, or juice from concentrate.

And now, do me a solid and tell me what you spend on your weekly grocery bill. Am I at the top of the heap? Are we way overspending? I need help!

7 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping Blues

  1. MrsCarlSagan

    I shop at the Loblaws in Bells Corners and I spend about 140$ a week for our family of 5 (about 30$ of the 140$ is milk). This doesn’t include diapers, but I only buy them about once a month and, God willing, I’m hoping by summer they will be off the list forever.

    I am a big fan of store brands like President’s Choice and am able shave a fair bit off the weekly bill just by avoiding name brands.

    We do go to Costco on average once every 1-2 months and buy all of our meat there so that doesn’t get figured into the weekly tally.

    I shop at the Bulk Barn about once a month and stock up on things like flax seeds, raisins, and rice. Buying in bulk is substantially cheaper, but not always practical for families like yours that need to consider food allergies.

    I’ve noticed that prices in general seem to be higher these days, so when something is on sale like bread and orange juice I stock up.

    Geez…grocery shopping is a full time job. Yikes.

  2. Aw Lynn! My post are meant to inspire, not convict! They’re also to keep me on track and accountable. Knowing that people will be looking at what I’ve bought does make me think twice about buying it. Plus, I’ve been linking up over at the Grocery Cart Challenge and they’re all trying to spend under $60/week! So I feel like a big spender when I read their posts!

    To use your example of the Vegetable Thins, I have nothing against them, but Simon can’t eat them. They have wheat, onions, and likely some sort of soy or dairy I bet. Same goes for almost ALL processed foods.

    Ever since Simon’s allergy diagnosis, I’ve HAD to be more conscious of the foods I buy. Always reading labels. Then I figured that if I buy things THAT DON’T HAVE LABELS (ie. a head of lettuce, a bad or oranges, rice, beans, etc) there was no reading involved.

    Turns out that eating this way (whole foods as opposed to processed) is not only so much healthier, but also cheaper!

    When we lived in Calgary, I always shopped at Superstore. It was within walking distance and seemed to have the lowest prices consistently. What it didn’t have was per unit pricing. You know when the price marker shows how much per 100ml or 100g? I *LOVE* that feature.

    Here in Gatineau, we’re lucky to have stores grouped close together. Maxi (like Superstore) is super close, Loblaw and Super C (another discount grocer) are a bit of a drive, but I have to go to Loblaws for a lot of Simon’s stuff so will hit up Super C if the sales warrant it. The Metro and IGA are right next to eachother and kind of on the way home. Shopping at 5 different stores can be a hassle, but I’m sure it saves me $50-$75 each month (much more than the cost of gas).

    Since I’m not working right now – and not making any money!- I figure that my “job” is to make sure that I’m spending as little as possible when I *do* spend money. THAT is my job. If that means pouring over the fliers each week, spending time planning meals, baking bread from scratch, and shopping at five different stores, then so be it.

    Plus, I like the challenge. 😉

    (I barely spend any money on personal care products, but that’s a whole ‘nother post… Did you read the one about washing your face with oil? It’s along those lines.

    1. They are definitely inspiring! I want to do better! At the very least you have me thinking about ways I could change, too. Mostly I feel like I don’t know where to begin — I’ve been buying exactly the same stuff for the past several years so it seems overwhelming to start over again.

      I think I should check out that website you mentioned for tips and ideas…and get going!

  3. porter

    I’ve been spending the same as you per week (as an average) but our new family budget I created says that I need to spend $175 tops so I have to start looking at ways of cutting back. Sucks!!!

  4. We are only a family of 3, but can spend up to $150 a week. That includes toilettries, cleaning products, etc but not diapers. I usally shop at three places. Farm Boy for fresh produce and meat (they have great sales), Price Choppers and Loblaws. Need Loblaws for the PC brand stuff. I do meal plans, which is the only way I can even consider doing groceries, but I know there is room to cut back. I think I just need more inspiration with meals and recipes. I’m in a rut and we are all getting a little sick of the same old stuff week after week. I must check out Muddy Boots for inspiration as well.

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