Spending less money on food is something I probably should have listed as one of my 2006 goals. I don’t even need to look at my Gnucash (accounting software) reports to know that I spend too much on food.
The first problem is that I eat out for lunch every day at work. Being able to eat out for lunch is sometimes important as it gives me an opportunity to talk to work colleagues about work-related or non-work-related things and gives us a chance to socialize. Sometimes it is necessary (for business meetings with external people, for example). But it is never necessary to eat out for lunch every day of the week. Recently (in November 2005) I started limiting the amount of money available in our chequing account every week (one of my goals for 2006). This has forced me to eat out less often. I started out slowly, and now I bring my lunch to work at least 3 times per week.
The second problem is that we spend too much on groceries. The nearby Safeway has just about everything you would need but the prices are really expensive, especially for produce, something which I didn’t until recently. A few months ago, I discovered the Dan-D Market, also nearby. I began going there for a few unique international products (rice noodles, pot stickers, pad thai ingredients, oriental sauces, etc…) which are either absent from Safeway or just too expensive. Then I started going there to buy produce which I realized was always at least 2-3 times cheaper than Safeway! I then discovered they have lots of canned foods are great prices, an excellent bulk section with every kind of grain you can imagine, and great breads (from a local bakery) as well. They also have a small deli where I have bought cheese and cold cuts on occasion, but I had never actually compared the prices between Dan-D and Safeway until yesterday when I did a comparison. The peppered salami was $1.49/100g at Dan-D and $2.49/100g at Safeway (on sale for $2.29/100g). A block of Parmesan cheese at Dan-D was $16/kg, vs. $30-$40/kg at Safeway (for grated and block). It’s amazing how much I save at Dan-D. I now do my shopping there exclusively and only go to Safeway for things that Dan-D doesn’t have (which is rare).
Another small problem is that we tend to go out for dinner a bit too frequently. But again, the fact that we have limited the amount of available cash in our chequing account every week and stopped using our credit cards has helped in this area as well.
I recently found some other suggestions for spending less on groceries: