Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Great Grocery Project: July Recap

This month we spent a total of $298.89 on groceries.  Reasonable for these parts (the average monthly spend for a household of 4 in Ontario is $700).

What did we spend it on?
Beverages - $2.97
Bread - $22.29
Dairy - $104.57
Frozen Foods - $5.94
Meat - $16.99
Pantry - $26.08
Prepared Food - $27.00
Produce - $73.56

We spent more on Prepared Foods than normal this month because we were without a kitchen for a period of time and I had to buy some prepared foods.

As usual, dairy and produce top our list of expenses.  If you live in Canada, you know why.  If we found ourselves in dire financial straits I would have to give up a cheese and milk.  At the moment I do not need to do that, and I am not willing to do that.  You may be surprised to hear that while I am on maternity leave and my income is reduced by over 50% I am actually spending less on dairy than we typically do.  My husband and I both come from European/francophone backgrounds and well...CHEESE.  We eat a lot of it - brie, swiss, goat's cheese, etc.  It is a huge cultural thing for us - and also the main reason why we keep our Costco membership (these cheese are significantly cheaper at Costco than at other stores).  We have not been buying very much of these cheese this year.  I remember when we first moved back to Canada from Europe and we were going to a party - I volunteered to bring a cheese tray.  HOLY SMOKES!!!  I had completely forgotten the price of cheese here versus Europe.  What would have cost us about 10-15GBP in the UK cost us over $60.00.  I digress...

I did stock up on some produce stuff that I froze this month (mainly grapes when they were on sale for Canada Day).  In August, I plan to buy and freeze blueberries (my favourite).  I cannot get enough blueberries.

Next month will mark the end of my first year of tracking every single penny of the grocery spending.  I've always had a food budget - but I have never really tracked exactly what and where it has been spent.  So you can brace yourselves for some super detailed analytics coming up at the end of August.  Is summer almost over?  Say it isn't so...

What did we do to save money this month?

If you missed my mid-way update you can catch up here.


1.  Rebate - I got a rebate cheque for $40.00 which I had sent in for when I purchased contacts a few months ago.  Hurray!

2.  Ebates - I had to make a few small online purchases - I used Ebates for all of them to earn cashback.

3.  Price Match and Flyers - I am still price matching at No Frills and finding it is definitely saving money every month.

4.  Not driving around to a bunch of stores -  I just pick one store for my shop every week and if I can't get it there - too bad.  It would have to be a crazy good deal for me to make an extra trip for something.

5.  Not spending.  The wardrobe is getting pretty sketchy - but summer is almost over and I know that when the fall weather comes I will have more clothes I can fit back into.  I have been wearing my US Army shirt....well....a lot......

6.  Asking the Key Questions  - We have been doing a major renovation on our house for almost one year now.  I am happy to say it is pretty much done and will get its own post shortly.  Every time we have done something I have asked - is there a way we can do this for less money that will still have the desired result without compromising value?  Well - once again last week this type of questioning saved us several thousand dollars.  Sort of.  We didn't have the several thousand to spend - so we were looking into other options and found something that only cost about $150.00.  Winning!

7.  Packing a lunch and snacks - We have been using out Tupperware and Rubbermaid water bottles like crazy.  I am packing picnics every day I leave the house with my kids.  It usually isn't anything fancy - just fruit and peanut butter wraps (typically).  Sometimes I make cookies to bring.  But this totally stops me from getting stuck without food and spending money.  Instead, I have been able to treat my oldest son to a snack size smoothie from McDonald's and he loves it.  It is a fun and enjoyable little treat.

8.  Outdoor play -  Getting my kids outside for hours every day is helpful for us in so many ways.  As long as weather permits we get out in the morning for a few hours.  We go to the park, visit animal farms (FREE ones), bike on a little path, play with the rocks in our backyard, and hit the splash pad.  If the weather is not cooperating (too hot or storming) we go to the mall (but not to shop!) and visit the activity time at The Disney Store, walk around, look at the window displays.  There are also a few great (FREE) indoor playgrounds in our area that we visit.  I especially love these because my youngest son is not walking yet but is very mobile and he loves crawling around on the indoor gym mats.

9.  Arts and Crafts and DIY Gifts -My oldest enjoys colouring, painting, and making stuff.  I always stock up on school supplies (crayons, pencil crayons, markers, glue, construction paper) in August and September and I have a little craft drawer in our house.  I have been tapping into this drawer quite a bit lately and my son has been "drawing" on his sketch pad during hot afternoons and rainy periods.  I also picked up a few things for myself (for DIY gifts) and I am going to be experimenting over the coming weeks with some project ideas I have for Christmas gifts.

10.  Revisting Old Recipes  - There is a cookbook I love Qu'est-ce qu'on mange?  It is part of a series put out by a women's farming association in Québec.  Somehow in one of our moves the book got lost.  I can't tell you how many times I have thought about recipes from this book and wanted to make them.  A few months ago my aunt emailed me out of the blue, also asking for a recipe from this book that I used to make (Crab Bisque - SO GOOD).  What I love about this book is that the recipes are delicious, easy to follow, and most of them are very economical.  Food is such a major part of French Canadian culture, and with long harsh winters and a short growing season les Québécoises are experts at making incredible meals with few supplies or on a budget.  To make a long story sort of short - I ordered a new copy of this book a few months ago.  Like most thing from Québec (sorry, Québec you know I love you and I miss living there so I am just going to say this), the ordering system was about 25 years behind and so I had to literally post a cheque with my order number on it and wait patiently for my book to arrive.  The book is here!!   I am so excited about this because I am rediscovering so many fantastic recipes (for example a salmon oatmeal loaf) that are healthy, budget friendly, and delicious.  I am so looking forward to making and enjoying these dishes again.

I hope that all of you had a wonderful July - and that your August is filled with good reading, good food, and wonderful times with family and friends.


  1. Have you thought about making your own bread with flour, salt, and yeast from Costco? You could cut that part of your grocery budget down significantly.

    I understand the cheese thing. It was interesting trying to explain that to our foreign exchange student. A friend of mine in France was just sending me some salad recipes--that all featured cheese (most of which I can't even find here, even at Sam's Club or Costco, and I can't pay $10 a pound for them if they had them anyway--like Gruyère!)

    1. Hi Brandy! Yes - I have thought about making my own bread. I do make some of our own bread, but not all. I make challah relatively often, and we make our own pizza dough, biscuits, etc. I am trying out some recipes for other bread related things like naan bread. The bread that my son (and I) really like is the ancient whole grain types of breads (I buy the Stonemill Breads I have found that making these types of bread from scratch, although delicious, is not much cheaper here. Grains and flour are not cheap in Canada (except for white all purpose flour which you can get for a pretty decent price). I can get 3 loaves of Stonemill bread at Costco for $6.99 and this is considered cheap here. The same loaves sell at grocery stores here for $4.99 each. Incidentally, the Stonemill factory is not far from my house and I went there one day to see if bread was even cheaper there - it was the same price at their "factory outlet" as it is at Costco. Another strategy I have been trying lately is buying ancient grain breads from the 50 percent off Quick Sale rack at the grocery store - although to be honest this isn't much cheaper than at Costco. Most of my bread goes into the freezer anyway as we mainly use it for toast. So yes, I do get bread supplies at Costco and it is much cheaper than buying a loaf of white bread - but making other types of bread doesn't have the same savings here.

      Yes - cheese is so expensive in North America. I have friends who spend an absolute fortune on groceries - and I can see how this could very easily be done. If I wasn't paying attention to what we were spending I could easily spend $200-$300 a month just on dairy. It's wild!!