Every month, I track all our income and expenses and publish them on our monthly cash report. I find it really helpful because tracking our cash flow enables me to see how we are doing financially every month. We occasionally have a negative month, but most of the time we have positive cash flow which is the first step to building wealth. This is especially valuable if your cash flow is tight like when you’re first starting out or when you’re newly retired. Seeing where your money goes will enable you to tweak your expenses and keep your cash flow in the green.
One of the questions I consistently get is – How do you keep your grocery bill so low? I’m not really sure because we don’t use coupons that much. I guess we eat a bit less than the typical US household, but probably not by a huge amount. We cook most of our meals at home and eat out only once or twice a week so it’s not offset by going out.
I have been meaning to save all our grocery receipts and then write an article about this, but those little receipts have a way of disappearing into thin air (especially with a 3 year old running around.) Finally, I was able to save all the receipts from April, so here we go.
Actually, April was a bit lower than usual because we left on vacation on the 27th. We ate up a lot of stuff in the cupboard and put off buying replacements until we got back. Our monthly grocery bill averages around $350/month, but in April it was a little low at $296. Currently, we have 2 adults, a 3 year old boy, and a senior (my mom) in our household. Our kid and my mom don’t eat that much, so I’m sure that’s a factor.
Where we shopped
$21 Gmart – Korean grocery store. Usually we spend more on Asian groceries, but not in April for some reason.
$101 Trader Joes’s – Our go to spot for organic fruits.
$162 WinCo – The most affordable grocery store in town. They just added an organic produce section in May so that’s nice.
$13 Safeway – The nearest grocery store to our condo. We drop by if we need something quickly.
Total – $296
What we purchased
I’ll just break the bills down into categories. If you have any suggestions, let me know and I can modify it. I highlighted the organic/natural items in green.
|smoked turkey sliced||$5.00|
|chicken drumsticks (5)||$2.80|
|chicken drumsticks (5)||$2.90|
|natural whole chicken||$7.00|
|natural whole chicken||$7.00|
What the heck did we make last month? Who can remember that far back? 🙂
- Tofu – Mapo tofu or stir fry with vegetables.
- Bacon – topping for Okonomiyaki. Also went well with eggs in the morning.
- Chicken drumsticks – seasoned and roasted in oven.
- Chicken breasts – ? probably stir fry or put in tacos.
- Whole chickens – Thai grill chicken (recipe at the bottom!) This dish is really convenient because I’d have some left over for those workout days. A little lean protein in the morning is much better than breakfast sausages.
- Chuck steak –hamburgers, bulgogi, and stir fry with veggies.
- Pork loin – Korean spicy pork, Mapo tofu, cilantro soup, and nam prik ong (a specialty from Chiangmai.)
- Lunch meat – sandwiches for lunch…
This looks pretty typical. We eat chicken, pork, and beef regularly. I don’t see much seafood in here this month. Usually we buy some salmon, too, so that would increase the grocery bill.
Wow, we didn’t spend much on bread last month. It looks like we didn’t eat much carbohydrates in April, but looks can be deceiving. We usually buy a 25 lb bag of rice and that would last us a couple of months, so it doesn’t show up very often. Mrs. RB40 has been too busy to bake, so that cuts down on flour usage.
That’s not good. I see a lot of fruits, but not a lot of vegetables… We really should buy more vegetables. In the summer, our community garden will be teeming with veggies so that should really help out. Vegetables taste so much better fresh from the garden.
Organic milk is pretty expensive at around $6/gallon. This one looks pretty normal to me for a family with a kid.
|2 sparkling water||$2.00|
My 6 pack of beer inflated the cost in of this category. At least we don’t drink much soda pop.
|2 Pocky snack||$4.00|
Who doesn’t love junk food? Hey, it looks like we were pretty good with the snacks in April. I don’t see a lot of junk food at all. I’m not sure where all the chocolate and crackers in our cabinet comes from… 🙂
|BBQ pulled pork 16 oz||$5.50|
|2 ravioli packages||$7.00|
|sweet potato fries||$2.30|
|sweet potato fries||$2.30|
We purchased more prepackaged food than usual from Trader Joe’s in April because we got lazy with the vacation coming up at the end of the month. We were all busy, so we got ready made stuff that made life easier. The BBQ pulled pork from Trader Joe’s was pretty good. We’d probably get it again. Chicken nuggets are still in the freezer.
|Icy hot cream||$5.50|
|red pepper powder||$5.00|
|2 cans cat food||$1.20|
|LBMN BBQ BRISH???||$3.00|
|plastic cling wrap||$2.70|
In case you’re wondering why there are two different prices of peanut butter, Mrs. RB40 bought a smaller jar to put in her desk drawer at work. In general, we are careful to buy what we think we’ll need and what we know we’ll use. Like I mentioned in a previous post, we have a smaller fridge and pantry, so things don’t get hidden out of sight in the back. Even when we’re not going on vacation, we’re pretty good about using what we have before buying anything new. Our May grocery bill probably will be higher since we bought groceries on vacation in Hawaii where food prices tend to be up to 25% higher than the mainland, and we are going to have to restock our shelves now that we are home.
Wrap it up
The whole thing doesn’t seem very remarkable to me. We spend a lot of money on protein and probably can cut down a bit. We should eat more vegetables. I’m sure this is a similar story in many US households. Actually, our grocery bill is a bit higher now that we are trying to eat more organic food. It’s mostly fruits, though, so it’s not too bad.
Well, looking through other people’s grocery bill can be pretty boring. What do you think? Let me know if you have any questions or comments. How does this compare to your family’s grocery bill?
Bonus recipe – Thai Grilled Chicken
Cut the chicken into small pieces… Am I underestimating our readers here? I don’t think many people know how to do this. Here is a more detailed instruction on how to cut a whole chicken into pieces.
- Lemon grass – mince one or two stalks.
- 2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1-2 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 2-3 Tbsp. whisky, cognac, or cooking wine
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- Black pepper
- 1 teaspoon (or more) curry powder
- 1 whole garlic minced
Marinade the chicken for an hour or two (or overnight.) I put it in the over at 350 degree for about 30 minutes, then finish it off on the grill for 5-10 minutes. You can just grill it too, but I use the oven to make it easy.
Serve with rice and Thai Chicken sauce (very important.) I recommend Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce. Wow, $16.82 for 2 bottles on Amazon. Usually you can get this for around $3 at any Asian grocery store. The customer reviews on Amazon is pretty amusing, though. Everyone loves this sauce!