Any good habit change should start with a little self-research. Before I can fix our diet and find innovative ways to stay within our grocery budget, I need to know exactly what we’re currently spending our money on.


To do this, I took two months of our grocery receipts and categorized how much I spent on different types of products. The categories I looked at were: Meat, Fruit, Vegetables, Grains/Cereal, Dairy, Snack, Desserts, Cleaning/Hygiene, Disposable, Spices, Other (which is a catch-all for sodas, coffee, and packaged dinners). I really wanted to get a granular view of what a typical week’s worth of shopping looks like. With a little spreadsheet magic, this is what I discovered.


On average, over the past two months, my weekly grocery list looks like this:

Grocery Budget Research

Average Percentage Spent on Groceries Per Category Each Week

Food Budget Spending

Amount Spent Per Category

On average, I spent $162.23 every week. The actual range was between $123.38 and $235.35.

Our grocery budget (for a family of four) is $125 a week. I thought I was pretty good at hitting that until I pulled up all of the receipts (including mid-week spur-of-the-moment trips to the store) and added the money we spend on our CSA. Now I know I’m nowhere near that budget. It’s time to dig deep and figure out why. This is what I’ll be doing in Part II.