Mar 20, 2012

Shopping & Cash Experiment Update - 3/20/2012

I'm doing a modified all-cash experiment for my grocery and drugstore spending in March. After setting some parameters, my total stood at $291.30 when I gave my last update, 13 days into the month.

What I'm seeing now is just how much my commitment to organic dairy products for the kids, and hormone- and antibiotic-free meat for our family, impacts my spending. Almost 20% of my $500 monthly budget is committed to organic milk for the boys. (I've been buying a lot of single serve cartons since my youngest won't drink milk at preschool, and I'm loathe to give juice to my older son every day - plus he needs something disposable for one of his two meals at school, and won't drink water).

I could also easily spend another 30-40% of my budget on meat and seafood at Whole Foods. (I occasionally find organic chicken on clearance at Vons, and then I buy what's left. But that happens pretty rarely.) I haven't bought that much so far this month, but based on what I have bought, I can see how it adds up quickly.

I don't plan on changing my commitment to buying these types of food for my family, but as obvious as it seems, I never really thought about just how much it costs since I knew we could afford it. Now I'm wondering if $500 is an unrealistically low budget for my family, in light of how we eat (and so I appreciate this guest post at Money Saving Mom, and this discussion at Good Cheap Eats, on setting a grocery budget that's appropriate to your family).

The bulk of my spending this past week was on cereal at Ralphs, fruit sauce pouches at Ecomom (thanks to the Plum District voucher), and dairy and produce at Trader Joe's. My total spent so far this month is $402.16.

I suspect I'm going to go over my $500 budget for the month before all is said and done, but we'll see!


Laura said...

I really appreciate your honesty about how much you spend on groceries. I have very similar convictions when it comes to dairy and meat. I try and buy organic produce when available. It adds up to a bunch of money every month. I was feeling slightly guilty about how much I spend on food, because it seemed as if everyone else was shaving their grocery budget to a fraction of what I spend. But, I am glad to know that I am in good company!

Chief Family Officer said...

It adds up, for sure! I'm glad I'm not the only one too :D

Gina said...

You may find that you're spending more because it's the FIRST month. Once you are able to find those organic foods at stock-up prices (Whole Foods, for example, has Friday specials that you'd be able to freeze), your cost may come down. The single-serve organic milk is a lot cheaper at BJ's than anywhere else.

Chief Family Officer said...

Thanks, Gina - that makes sense, but I've always stocked up on meat when I found a good price on those items - it still adds up! And unfortunately, my kids prefer the strawberry and vanilla varieties of the single serves, and Costco doesn't carry those! (We don't have BJ's - but that's a warehouse, right?)