Tuesday, January 31, 2012

grocery habits

Over the years, as my relationship with Bunny progressed from seeing each other on weekends as we lived in separate cities, to spending most of our time together, to living together, our grocery and eating habits have evolved a little bit, to revolve around joint preferences. I have a feeling that to some extent this is fairly standard. Of course, through that we've also had several changes in circumstance: Bunny leaving his job to go back to school, me being unemployed and the financial consequences in both our grocery shopping habits have changed quite a bit.

In the begining, for instance, we would shop mostly for "meals" - elaborate plans we would make to impress each other, but without the long term planning to keep a fridge stocked. Over time, we began to slowly stock up on joint staples: soups, peanut butter, tofu, cheese, vegetables etc.

When we first lived together, we would grocery shop at the Leslieville Loblaws, and shop with our eyes, being creative about things. What vegetables looked good? What proteins and starches were appealing. Was there anything frozen we wanted? How about snacks? Treats? We would still shop for "meals", and as those got somewhat rarer, we would go to fancy butcher shops and vegetable stands. We looked to get things on sale, but only to stock up on favourites, never to just choose the best price. We would eat out, or order in as we pleased because the money was there.

Around the time Bunny started to think about going back to school, we had to re-evaluate. Our grocery budget needed to get more under control, because our division of expenses and available income pool were about to shrink. We were giving up the car, so we couldn't get to our old grocery store, but there were several grocery stores (less expensive ones) within walking distance. We wanted to plan our menu more closely, take more advantage of sales and coupons than we already did, trim the excess from our grocery budget.

This meant a lot of changes. Having a solid number that we could spend in our heads. Having an outline of what we were going to eat, and when. A list of what we needed, compared against what we have. Buying meat in bulk at a discount, and freezing the excess. Working more grains and legumes into our diet.

Recently, this has also meant re-evaluating how we consume some things. We've never gone through much more than a litre of milk, if that, a week; recently, though that has changed. I'm home, and drink lattes every morning. Bunny likes to have milk to drink and with cereal sometimes, and I use it a lot in my baking. We've started going through two litres a week. So, this week, we decided to buy a 4 litre bag for, get this, the same price as a litre carton.

Another change was that I planned my menu this week around the flyer. 10lb bags of potatoes for $2.49, 3ilbs of carrots for $1.49, a brick of cheese for $4.99. Chicken was on sale, so we picked some up. We picked up cauliflower (also on sale) for potato cauliflower curry, parsnips to do a dish with the carrots, peppers to turn into a stir fry with both the carrots and some items we already had in the fridge. The menu was built around the prices.

We`re still limited, of course, by what our arms can carry home but shopping and planning around the flyer has been a great plan for now.

What changes have you made to your grocery habits that have saved you money in the past? Bunny and I are always looking for hints.


  1. I totally relate to this. When I decided to get my teaching license, we knew I'd have to quit my job for student teaching, so we cut back in a lot of ways. Planning all of our meals and sticking to our grocery list helped keep our budget in check. We also ate a lot of legumes. And we decided to eat out only one night a week (we had been going out Fridays and Saturdays), and typically only to inexpensive places. Though I'm in my second year teaching now, we still practice lots of the money-saving habits we developed out of necessity.

    1. Bunny and I took a different route on the restaurants.

      We used to do 2 days order in/going out PLUS work lunches for Bunny before he left his job. Now, we go out max once or twice a month .... but we make sure that we go somewhere we love. We do a lot of cheaper places, but because we go out rarely we plan for a couple of expensive dinners a year.