Am I spending too much on groceries? Part III

As I looked at my sister’s grocery receipts, I noticed she bought lots of fresh, canned, and frozen fruits and vegetables, which is great! There are not many prepackaged meals or convenience items—also a plus. The meat purchased was quite economical with the exception of chicken strips. They are generally not a smart buy in terms of nutrition and cost. 

There were four places I think my sister’s family could consider making some changes:

  1. Reduce the number of boxes of Toaster Strudel™ purchased. Twelve boxes (72 strudels) during the month cost about $25. Toaster Strudels™ are 190 calories, 38% fat including Trans Fat and provide zero vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and only 4% iron. Check out ideas for substitutes that your family could try on our recipe page.

  3. Reduce the amount of Kudos® (5), snack crackers (9), cookies (2), Cheetos® (2), snack pudding and gelatin cups (2), and jars of peanuts (4). Cost for these items was around $85. Encouraging the family to eat fruits and vegetables as a snack would decrease calories and increase nutrition content. Consider making some homemade bakery items for snacks. Packaging these items in snack bags could help with portion control. Popcorn could substitute for crackers as a snack. If you pop your own, it is very economical.

  5. The 13 packages of crescent rolls purchased this month cost around $37. Consider substituting whole wheat, French, or Italian bread for crescent rolls. Slice the bread, spread with margarine, sprinkle with garlic powder, and toast.

  7. Review the amount and brand of cheese purchased. The amount spent for the month was $33. Most of the cheese purchased was a name brand, instead of a store brand. Cheese does provide good amounts of calcium, but it is high in calories, fat, and sodium.

-pointers from Peggy

Am I spending too much on groceries? Part II

As I mentioned earlier, my sister asked me if she was spending too much at the grocery store, and I offered to take a look at her grocery receipts. 

The first thing I did was use the figure your food dollar calculator to come up with an estimate for her family: $150.53 a week or $653.26 per month. My sister and her husband take their lunches to work, and other than school lunches for the kids, they only eat out about 2 meals a week. This makes their cost of food at home a little higher, but saves on the overall budget.

Next, I added up the food and non-food items on all the receipts. Sometimes the receipts listed the amount spent on non-food items; for others, I had to figure the amount of non-food purchases by dividing the tax charged by the tax rate. (If the tax charged was $2.33 and the tax rate was 6%, the math is $2.33/.06 = $38.83 of taxable items.)

Surprisingly, over 30% of the money spent at the store was for non-food items. This included soft drinks, cleaning products, personal items such as shampoo and rinse, paper towels, toilet tissue, wine, etc. Just looking at the total spent at the grocery store gives you a false reading on grocery costs. My first suggestion is to compare prices of non-food items at warehouse type stores (like Sam’s or Costco) and discount stores (like Target, Kmart, Walmart, etc.) and stock up on items instead of buying them at the grocery store.


Next time, I will share four other suggestions I gave my sister.  Feel free to share your tips with us.

-pointers from Peggy

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