I think there is no better way to understand someone then to walk a kilometre (I’m Canadian) in their shoes, so I’m going to share my grocery shopping routine.
Over the years my hubby and I have had our financial ups and downs. Being a student and typical life stuff have made us look at how we spend our money and I’ve been able to develop a grocery routine that works no matter how much income we have. An ability to stick to our budget and prepare for the worst has helped us ride out the more difficult times. Generally my monthly budget is $650.00 for a family of four and that includes toiletries and household supplies. At this point in my life I have decided to make a few choices around food that raised my budget a bit. If you are on a more restrictive income or if your priorities are different then mine you can cut some of the costs for sure.
Once a month I stop at a local grocery store, Country Grocer in South Nanaimo, one of the few places I can find local meat at a price I can afford. Local purchasing is something that has become a priority for me but does increase my food costs. Being the saavy, thrifty lady that I am I go through their meat department and buy everything I can that’s marked down. Most goes immediately into the deep freeze and it saves me between 30-50%. Sometimes this means that I get a random assortment of meats, I got a lot of ground bison one week, but I can work around this and just incorporate it into my meal plan.
I shop weekly at Superstore for all of my pantry items, there is no where I’ve found with better prices regularly. They have a great selection of healthy options and insanely cute kids clothes (so super helpful for the budget). I also keep close watch on the shelves for items that I regularly use that are on sale. This week they had my favourite tomatillo salsa on sale. It’s something we go through consistently so I grabbed two even though I had one at home. I do the same when there’s a bargain deal on toilet paper, toothpaste or really anything. Now, I’m not one of those wackadoos with a bomb shelter filled with enough canned goods to last me a year, or a plague of locusts. My kitchen is tiny and I don’t even have a pantry so I only get what fits, but this has saved our ass a few times. These last few months are a great example. I’ve been on maternity leave and my hubby was taking time to be at home with us, so we were on a really tight budget. Not having to buy toiletries and having food to pull from meant we could ride out this tight time a little easier.
Produce is also a place where I have made a few personal choices. Where ever possible I try to buy local and at the very least Canadian. At the right time of the year this is easy and actually inexpensive. Off season this becomes a bit harder and I need to shift my menu or spend a little more. My favourite spot for buying produce is Russell Farms Market. It’s a lot of their own or local produce and their prices are great. Farm stands or farmers markets are a fabulous option for local, reasonably priced produce. This does add an extra stop on my grocery date but it’s become a fun stop where we often get ice cream and check out the nursery. If this extra stop doesn’t work, Superstore has a decent selection of produce that is reasonably priced.
I also have a Costco membership and make a trip every few months for baby wipes, and a few items that I get a good deal on there.
It’s taken a bit of trial and error to find out what works for my family. We all go shopping together when my hubby’s in town and make it a fun family day. When he’s out of town I make a date with a friend and we use our shopping as a chance to hang out. Farmers markets can also be a weekend family adventure and a chance to check out local food culture.
Our budget has also stayed pretty constant. I don’t like going much below the budget we’ve set because of some of the food choices I’ve made for our family. This has meant I cut back in other areas instead. However, I get that a lot of people live on a lot less and if I used more generic or less organic/natural products my budget could almost be 100-200 dollars less a month.
I’d love to hear what your grocery routines are and if you’re interested in how I meal plan click HERE.