Last week I did an informal survey of my Facebook friends and Tabulous readers about how much everyone's family spends on groceries in a month.
The thing is, groceries feel like the place you should be able to cut back or change something and magically you'll half your cost. You hear about people doing all the time, whether it be through couponing or creative meal planning or food swaps or whatever.
Mostly I just wanted a frame of reference that I didn't have.
I learned that we spend about $100-$200 more than the average family, unless that family also is eating mostly organic, and then we're about on par. I learned that some of you are far more resourceful about your foods -- I'm quite happy buying my meat at a counter and not having to butcher it myself, thanks. I also learned that some of you are freaking shopping superstars, but I can't help but wonder what you're buying.
I'm not going to pass judgement here, because we all make choices based on our own experiences and values doing what we think will best benefit our families. For us that means more wholesome products at a financial hit; for others that means more money in the bank and more processed foods filling their fridges.
Everyone has priorities.
We're working on ways to make it more functional for us -- intentionally making meals that are actually enough for two or three meals, freezing the extra portions and saving it for a quick meal. We also don't really eat out ever anymore -- we sometimes do fast food, but that's about once every couple of weeks (usually payday) and normally the kids still eat something made at home because they're picky little nuggets.
I'll actually correct that. Tova will eat something homemade. Kiedis eats processed fish sticks and organic applesauce like it's going out of style. If I had the patience to learn how to make fish sticks myself, I would. But he probably wouldn't eat them. He's brand specific. For serious. If I'm lucky I can get a grilled cheese in him. And meatloaf, that child loves meatloaf. But other than that (unless it's a sweet like cookies or yogurt) pretty much no dice.
I'm just thinking about it a lot as we enter another year no more ahead than we were last year, and with two littles who require more and more fuel to keep their little engines going I tend to get panicky about how long we can keep this up and make sure everyone's well-fed.
I guess it's also just indicative of my constant problems with comparisons to others and feeling like everyone else has it figured out and we just missed that class in school or something. I know a lot of it has to do with the economy and how it effects things like gas prices and food prices and that part of it is we're young and on a single income (and a very modest one at that) and that our personal priorities differ a great deal from most of the people we know. We all make our choices hoping they don't bite us in the ass later, I just worry about said ass-biting more than others, I guess.
Anyway, thanks to those of you who were willing to talk dollars with me because I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with doing so, and know that for a couple of days there you made the sociological part of my brain very happy. I had to stop myself from making a spreadsheet, for Pete's sake. And if you missed out on the convo because you're not in on the whole Facebook dealio but want to throw your three cents in, let it free in the comments. I was just asking people their monthly grocery bill for the number & ages of people in your home & usually if that number also contains things like paper goods, eating out, and pet food. Harmless, I swear.
Thanks for humoring me, and if you too have secret things you want to know about how other people run their homes & lives, shoot me an email or a DM and I'll be happy to oblige and ask the greater constituents of Tabulous-land their thoughts for you anonymously.
Round up tomorrow, and I've been actually catching up on things so brace yourselves.