Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Groceries Schmoceries

Is it just me, or is the cost of food these days getting you down?

I can't figure out why my food bill is so darn high month after month. Even when I diligently meal plan and shop the sales (and avoid the fast food joints completely), I am still looking at $700-800 per month for our family of seven. I've been hearing that my bloggy friends are spending a LOT less. Either you are all much better at shopping than I OR our food costs are significantly different depending on our location on this great continent!

I want need to know how much food items cost where you're from (where are you from, by the way?). I must know what you do to keep costs down as prices rise.

You know what works for me? Stealing everyone else's great ideas! (wink) So, I'm putting up Mr. Linky and leaving it open until the weekend is through. All you need to do is write a post (or comment, if you don't have a blog...yet) and share some wisdom. There's a list of food items that Christine (my real life BFF) created - she is desperate to know how much those items cost you at your local grocery store (or supermarket for my American friends).

And just for fun - how much is gas where you're at?!

I'll still post new material, but you'll have to scroll below this post to see it.


Here's my contribution for ya....

I live in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. We are smack dab in the middle of booming oil country, where young fellas who finished high school a few credits shy of graduation can go out in the patch and earn themselves a modest $100,000 per year. Needless to say, everything is a wee bit overpriced.

(I'm waiting for Christine to pour out her knowledge of grocery pricing, but in the meantime I'll fill in the blanks from any recent shopping I've done...)

4L milk - $4.33
5lbs potatoes - $4.99ish
price per lb for fruit - apples - $1.88, oranges - $1.48, bananas - $1.98 (but I think I accidentally grabbed organic bananas, they're usually more like $0.60 per pound), grapes - $2.28
average price for produce (per lb) - lettuce - ? (I buy bagged salad at $3.99), cucumber - $1.68 (whole cuke), tomatoes - $1.78, carrots - $0.98
box of KD - $0.87
frozen corn, about 1lb - $3.59
coffee tin, almost 2lbs - $7.99
toilet paper, 12 double-rolls - $7.50 (I must say that this was a CRAZY low price that got me very excited...normally, more like $9ish)

For the rest of these, I haven't purchased them in the past couple weeks. I am going shopping this weekend, though, so I'll fill in the blanks for ya!

price per lb of ground beef, chicken, pork chops
price per lb/gms of cold cuts like ham or roast beef
block of cheese (put in size)
lb of butter or margarine
pkg of cookies like Oreos
can of beans
can of tomatoes
pkg of pasta (put in size)

Here's what I do to save a buck or two...

Meat - I check the flyers that come out on Fridays and make my meal plan based on which meats are on sale. Every now and then, one of the grocery stores will have a two-for-one meat sale - I GO! Also, I purchase my meat in ridiculous bulk amounts (price per lb goes down the more you buy) and separate it at home. One of these days I'm going to buy half a cow and put it in my deep freeze.

Produce - If it's not in season or on sale, I don't buy it. Or, if I really want it I buy a small amount and hide it from the kids (kidding, well, kinda). We eat a lot of frozen and canned in the winter months. I avoid the organic aisle (except in the case of this week's bananas) - organic produce is usually twice the price of the regular stuff.

Dry goods - Bulk shopping is my friend. I know some of you are thinking, "nu-uh, no way, bulk costs too much." But it honestly depends where you buy it and how well you know your prices. For example, toilet paper is always cheapest at WalMart, but diapers are up to $7 less per box at Superstore (sorry folks, it's called "The Great Canadian Superstore"). Most of the snacky things my kids like to toss in their lunches are cheaper at Costco. I haven't been doing as much store-to-store shopping these days, though, with gas costing an arm, a leg, and your firstborn child.

While I'm on that note... My last tank of gas in my thirsty Suburban cost $131.01 (I always get stuck with that extra penny). That was 112.55 Litres at $1.164/L (which is the lowest it's been in a while). Now, let me demonstrate my mathematical genius for you as I convert this to price per imperial Gallon - $5.29, and then to US Gallon - $4.41. Amazing, aren't I?!

1. Denise@viewfromtheglen
2. mom2fur (Long Island, NY)
4. Nichole
5. Owlhaven
6. Melissa *read the comments*
7. SH (Maryland Grocery Prices)
8. jan
9. BarbaraLee (MN grocery bill)
10. Sarah from Indiana
11. Deb (Chicago \'Burbs)
12. bobbie (La)
13. chel
14. Heather, from Iqaluit Nunavut
15. Twix(central Illinois)

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.


  1. Well I think you're doing excellent for a family of seven with those prices. I have a family of seven and live in America. Your prices seems higher for some stuff and I spend way more a month than you do. So I shudder to think on how little you must live on. Your bag of frozen corn is awful on price. I can usually find one for $1 or less. However we don't hardly eat corn. I pulled out my receipts from this last shopping trip, to jump in and participate and then realized I didn't have the costs of some of the stuff you asked about. Like cheese and potatoes or coffee or oreos or most of the meat...lol. This coming weekend when I make my runs I'll grab those prices and report back. Milk here, central Illinois, varies in price from $2.60 all the way to $3.99. My last gallons were for $2.62 a piece. Gas today is $3.25, down 70 cents from 6 weeks ago. We have to drive a lot to get anywhere, so we do complain about it.

    Of course I nearly fainted at the thought of barely out of highschool and making $100,000 grand a year. My husband doesn't make any where near that. We are lucky to pull $40,000, very lucky if we do that.

    You know what I would be interested in? Seeing a days typical menu, how many served, serving sizes, and teh total cost of the day. Now that would be interesting! I bet some of us eat more/less than others. ;-)

  2. I think the cost of food has increased dramatically in the past year - and I say that because I am not all that observant and even I have noticed that I am routinely exceeding my weekly budget. Guess it's time to increase the budget - we're not going to stop eating!

  3. I live in Alaska, where everything is more expensive.

    Milk - 3.99 a gallon
    Eggs - Over 4.00 for 18
    Bread - 2.30 for store brand wheat

    Gas is 3.51

    That's all I know off the top of my head.

  4. I'll see if I can't find my list from last week. It doesn't look like you are far off from MN.
    Gas right now is $2.89/.93.
    I can buy bread at a thrifty store for $.75 a loaf.

  5. Hi! I am loving this idea of sharing how much groceries cost across the country. We moved from Australia to L.A. about 5 months ago and now after settling in I realise the grocery budget is about the only part of our budget that is "flexible" and where I can save our family some real money.

    For comparisons sake, I could NOT get our monthly grocery budget in Australia to be under $950AUD/month. It was usually more like $1000AUD/month. And three years ago it was $750/month. It's increased because of kids (we have a 10m old and a 2 1/2 year old), the price of groceries has gone up and we lived in Perth, so everything had to be shipped/imported. We are currently working on a $800USD/month budget, but I am trying to get that down to $600USD/month.

    I find I'm spending a bit more for a few reasons:
    1. We couldn't bring any food with us, so I've had to start over restocking ALL staples, including herbs, spices and baking ingredients - so I'm still buying a lot more in one stop than just restocking
    2. We live in Pacific Palisades, therefore just because of the zipcode they charge us 50% more
    3. I'm working out the coupon/sale thing (we didn't have coupons AT ALL in Australia) and I'm still learning

    I am running an experiment this month: I am ONLY shopping at Trader Joe's for food. Don't know if you know of TJs, but it's AWESOME. They don't believe in sales, instead everything is just priced cheaper. For instance, I discovered that TJs sells the baby yogurt I feed my kids for $3.64/6-pack, whereas Vons and Ralphs have the SAME yogurt for $5.68! CRAZY! TJs choc chips are $1.99 whereas Nestle Tollhouse is $3.99. Salsa at TJs, $1.69, Old El Paso or El Torito - $3.69! So I'm seeing how it goes this month and if simply changing shops get prices down.

    We are very blessed in our income and don't have to scrimp on groceries, but I know that every extra cent we save can be put towards the mortgage to pay it off more quickly, which means we can then up our tithe and give more. Therefore, I save where I can (i.e. coupons, sales, cheaper shops like TJs) but we don't deprive ourselves of anything. My husband, as a typical Aussie, is a "meat and potato" kind of guy, so we HAVE to have meat at dinner, no arguments. We buy good, lean cuts of meat and whatever fruit and veg I feel like cooking that week. My kids and I are crazy about our fruit, so I buy anything we want, within reason. I can't bring myself to pay $5 for a small thing of raspberries or blueberries, but if they are on sale for $2/$3 I'll buy 5-6 and freeze them. We also buy a lot of local produce at the farmers markets, which are great in LA.

    Prices are based on shopping at Trader Joe's and USD:
    Bananas (non organic) 19c each
    Ground beef: $5.99/lb - leanest cut
    Frozen chicken breasts - 3lb for $7.49
    Coffee - 16oz/$6.99 (it lasts us 2 weeks, if that)
    Milk - this is the only thing I still buy at Ralphs as they have a deal where first gallon is $3.69 then second gallon is $1, so I get 2 gallons for $4.69
    1lb of cheddar $4.99-$5.99
    3 green peppers $1.99
    2 red peppers $1.99
    Avocados - have varied a lot lately $1/each to 4/$4.50

    As for gas, we're holding steady around $3.59/gallon at the moment. Though I have to admit, we still aren't paying for gas in America! When we left Australia it was $1.30/litreAUD and it's now up to $1.50/litre. We promptly bought an SUV gas-guzzler when we got here and my husband (he's the Aussie, I'm American) doesn't flinch when we fill up, though I do!

  6. I found this from Owlhaven and just had to post. I actually asked this question on various boards this week before I even read this. We live on the East Coast of Canada and prices here are crazy. But we buy a lot in bulk, direct from farmers/growers and buy in season. We feed a family of 7 (and also buy all household products AND formula, diapers, bottle liners, prescriptions, OTC meds, shampoo, toothpaste, laundry soap etc...ALL that stuff) for about $1000/m. Okay that sounds like a lot but it works out to be about $4 per person, per day.

    Here's our breakdown:

    4L milk (or a gallon): 4L $6.58 for non-organic, $11 for organic.

    5lbs potatoes: anywhere from $1.99 to 6.99 depending on type and organic or not.

    price per lb for fruit - apples, oranges, bananas: Apples from 99c/lb to $3/lb though we buy direct from the grower for 99c a pound. Oranges, no idea, they're not in season yet. Bananas, 69c/lb for non-organic, 89c/lb for organic

    average price for produce - lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots: Lettuce, no idea. We buy a box of organic baby greens for $5 and it lasts two weeks. Cucumber on sale: $1.29. Tomatoes: on sale 99c/lb, usually 2.50/lb. Carrots, we only buy organic, $2.29/3lb

    price per lb of ground beef, chicken, pork chops: Haven't a clue :D We buy in bulk from the farmer. We WILL buy whole chickens at the regular grocery store when they're $1.29/lb. We buy $100 of meat at the farmer's market and it lasts for about 6 weeks (that's 10lbs pork chops, 10lbs beef tenderloin steaks, 10lbs lean ground beef and 5lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast, ALL organic and free range)

    price per lb/gms of cold cuts like ham or roast beef: We only buy spicy salami. $1.79/100grm

    block of cheese (put in size): 600g (has anyone noticed the price of these have gone up, but the size has gone down? They used to be $5 for 800g, now..nope) $8. On sale $5.

    lb of butter or margarine: $4.09(never on sale) for butter, $2 for margarine.

    box of mac and cheese like KD: $1.29 for KD, 99c for off-brand

    pkg of cookies like Oreos: $4 for Oreos, on sale $2. Off-brand between $2-4.

    can of beans: 99c.

    can of tomatoes: $1.29 for the big 700mL cans

    pkg of pasta (put in size): $1.29 for 500g.

    pkg of frozen veggies like peas or corn (put in size): Not sure of the size. 1kg? $3.99

    tin of coffee (put in size): Don't buy a tin. I buy a pound of beans and grind them myself. Lasts about two months. That's $13-16.

    12 double roll toilet paper: On sale, cheap, $4.99. Regular brand (Charmin or Royale) $6.99.

    So it adds up! LOL Stuff is way more expensive here than other provinces. We lived in Ontario for a year and our food budget was SO much cheaper. And that was with only one less kid. Some of our expenses too come from having a kid with serious food allergies (so we have to shop for known "safe" brands) and one with a milk-allergy. So for example Mr. Christie cookies are safe where the PC brand isn't and it's $2 cheaper. Or we buy cows milk for cereal for some, rice milk for the one allergic to soy and cows milk and soy for the one allergic to cows milk. Yeah we could just buy rice for everyone, but it's actually cheaper in the long run to buy three different kinds as it doesn't run out as fast that way.

  7. ok, I live in southern Ontario.

    Family of 5, plus I run a home daycare, so many extra kids.....
    avarage moht is 800.00
    inuding cat food, liter, shampoo, ect.

    4L milk - $4.89 at most storees, 3.88 at costco3
    10lbs potatoes - $4.99ish sometimes less for the same amount
    price per lb for fruit - apples - $1.88, oranges - $1.48, bananas - $0.60 per pound), grapes - $2.28
    average price for produce (per lb) - lettuce - 2.00 and less, cucumber - $1.68 (whole cuke), tomatoes - $1.78, carrots - $0.98
    box of KD - $1.29
    frozen corn, about 1lb - $3.59
    coffee tin, almost 2lbs - $7.99
    toilet paper, 12 double-rolls - I buy anything that is under .25 per roll for single roll of .50 for a double.

    try save.ca for coupons
    I make my own taco mix, ect . really a huge saver for me.
    I use my crockpot a ton

  8. Hi,
    We live in southeastern British Columbia. Currently we are feeding my husband, myself and one adult daughter (the rest have grown and flown). I haven't quite adjusted my budget correctly yet to pare down from 5 to 3 but can give you an idea of some of the prices here.

    4L milk is $3.98 to $4.89 depending where you buy it.
    5 lbs potatoes $3.98
    l lb apples $1.29 - $1.79
    1 lb oranges $1.29
    1 lb bananas $0.89
    lettuce $1 - $1.29 each
    cucumbers $0.99 - $1.29 each (hothouse)
    tomatoes $1.29 - $1.69 per lb but going up for the winter
    carrots $1.69- $2.29 per 3 lb bag
    chicken (on sale) $1.98 per lb
    beef well over $2 per lb on sale
    cheese $6.99 per 500 grams up to $14.99 per 750 grams block
    1 lb butter on sale $3.99
    Can beans $1.29 on sale
    can tomatoes $1.29 per 28 oz on sale
    500 gram package pasta $1.67
    908 gram package pasta $2.49-$4.99 depending where you buy it
    1 kg bag frozen corn or peas $2.19 - $4.99
    750 ml yogurt $3.69-$3.99
    These prices are not for organic produce or meat.
    Our gas has been sitting around $1.29 per litre for a couple of weeks, today it is down to $1.26.


  9. I spend around $1000/m to feed 6 (but 3 of the 6 are teenage boys so they should count for double!!). That price includes all those items like cleaners, tolit papper, shampoo, etc, I would guess that just food is around the $900 mark. I buy no prepakaged or pre-made foods, and normally only buy discounted/on-sale items/or bulk (therefore cheaper). I only buy cheese once per month as it is too expensive and only serve suppers with meat about 4 times per week to cut costs. Most of the suppers (dinners - whatever you go by) I serve are b/w $10 - $15. I do alot of baking so the kids can fill up on muffins and such. If I break it down, I am spending around $5.55 per day per person, or around $33 a day.

    I have kept track in my budget for years on how much I spend on food and when I look back over the years here is what it looks like:
    2002 - $600 per/mth
    2005 - $800 per/mth
    2008 - $1000 per/mth


  10. I am so bad . . . I haven't been to the store in more that seven weeks. My Dear Hubs and daughter have made the ultimate sacrifice and gone to the store for me.

    I am so relieved that you haven't stopped visiting me!!! I almost had a lil panic attack when I thought I lost a reader! HUGE SIGH!

    I hope you get your computer problems solved without big issues!

    Have a happy Friday!

  11. Here are our some more food prices (from a reg grocery store) for ya Tyler...

    Chicken breast...$4.49lbs (on sale)
    Roast beef...$2.99lb (on sale)
    Chicken drums...$2.99lbs (on sale)
    Pork chops...$4.99lbs (reg price)
    Salmon...$1.99 per 100g
    Hot dogs...$3.49 (pkg of 12)
    Cheese (750g)...$7.99 (on sale)
    Cheese slices (24 reg/48 thins)...$7.99
    Frozen peas (1kg)...$2.49

    It seems to me that all over Canada we are paying more!!! Well some of you unfortunite states are too, but much of the states have good sales and coupons on top of better prices. We do not really have coupons here. Every now and again, but normally we just have sale prices, which a am happy about b/c cutting coupons would make me crazy!

    What is the "average" income down there in the states? I know that is soooo variable, especially around here! Anyone in the oil field makes decent to stupid over the top $$$, anyone who works a professional job, went to college, that sort of thing can expect to make b/w $40,000 - $60,000 per year depending on how many years they have been working. After Canadian taxes that works out to a take home income of b/w $2,200 - $3,700 per month (maybe a bit less even, I was trying to be generous!!!).


  12. I love this idea.... Do you use coupons?

  13. I got here from owlhavens link. wow what a difference in prices! I posted the price around here on my blog.

  14. This is very interesting. I just read through a discussion on a message board I belong. I was so shocked at how LOW the prices are south of the border! I'm from Atlantic Canada, and even our milk prices are high compared to most of the rest of Canada. We're paying $6.49/4 lt. of milk, though some stores sell it for $5.99. Cheese is insane - I'm hardly buying dairy now. When I do, I try to get it on sale. For any Canadians, watch your Shoppers Drug Mart flyer - they have sales on quite often. Last spring they had butter on sale for $2.99/lb. Also, you can use your Optimum points, and they had milk on sale for a certain number of points - I can't remember how many, but we ended up getting 6 bags of milk for the points we had. Usually ice cream is cheaper there, too. We live less than an hour away from Houlton, ME, so a friend of mine has encouraged me to go across - she's been doing it some, and saving at least $40 on fuel, and then whatever food. She has 8 children, so you can imagine how much her bill would be. Anyway, I just appreciate this conversation so much, and it's great to be able to help each other find ways to lower those monthly expenses.

  15. Sorry for getting my prices in so late! Gas prices today was $2.75 a gallon. And it can keep on dropping!! We drive upwards of 400 miles a week to work and back and other things going on. Glad to see it fall!


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