True expenses for certain grocery items?


Two year YNABer here and still loving it (age of money is 164 days!). I'm still trying to tackle my grocery expenditure, which can vary widely and feels unpredictable. I'm a really into cooking so I find myself occasionally shopping for component ingredients I need (think specialty ingredients with higher prices, such as flours, oils, vinegars, and spices). These items are not usually monthly purchases, and I've been thinking of making a separate true expense category for the ones I frequently replace. I was wondering if anyone else approached their groceries this way. 


NBG 馃惢

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  • Sounds like an effective solution to me.

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  • These items are a pain when you first start out and need to buy them all at once but once you're going I find they all run out at different times and have just become part of our normal grocery expenditure. It smooths out over time.

    Personally, I just budget a bit extra to groceries if we hit a particularly lumpy month but then I also lump household consumables in with groceries. Absolutely nothing wrong with your method though if you're trying to drill down on your groceries spend more.

    Like 7
  • Navy Blue Grizzly said:
    wondering if anyone else approached their groceries this way

     Wonder no longer; that is exactly what I do.

    I have a groceries category for the predictable spending from the outer ring of the grocery store: fruit, vegetables, bakery, dairy and eggs. I use a separate category, pantry & freezer, for everything else.  I also use third category for liquor, wine, and treats, Gracious Living.

    The grocery category doesn't build up. I just fund the category based on the number of shopping Saturdays each month; if I didn't spend all of last months funds, I can allocate less this month.  The pantry & freezer category, on the other hand, builds continually, so that it is fully funded to handle expensive specialty ingredients, condiments, bulk dry goods, canned goods by the case, share of a butchered animal direct from a farmer.

    I've found the following split is my perfect funding formula:  groceries 55%, pantry and freezer 30%, gracious living 15%

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      • Melissa
      • Routinely questioning every assumption I have about my budget, my spending, and my savings habits.
      • todays_mel
      • 5 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      HappyDance I like the idea of using a percentage for breaking out the grocery "food groups"! I'd likely still keep just one Grocery category, but since I order online and then pickup curbside, I can still get my shopping cart together and see how my bill breaks out between those three, and add up what I'm really spending in each - likely gaining some insight to identify any additional potential savings.  Thanks for sharing your method.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 5 mths ago
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      HappyDance I wish the receipt would subtotal the groups on the receipt. My store groups them despite the scanning order but doesn鈥檛 subtotal. So for the most part I put everything in groceries unless there is booze or clothing or vitamins which are separate categories for me and not often purchased with groceries. 

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  • We have a Groceries/Household category. But we are also members of a CSA (Community Supported Ag riculture) farm. And a poultry/beef farm. And quarterly CHEESE! (We live in WI;) Each of these others gets its own category and True Expense allocation and Goal.

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      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 5 mths ago
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      Quarterly cheese?  Be still, my heart!   馃檪

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  • Wow, thank you everyone! This is very helpful to hear all your perspectives. 

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  • Anything I buy at the grocery store or farmer鈥檚 market gets categorized as grocery. Like someone else above mentioned, it eventually smooths out. I make almost everything from scratch and I stock my pantry by following sales. ie) when butter is on sale I鈥檒l buy enough to last a few months. I do the same with any pantry or freezer item. So one month I might buy a lot of butter, the next month it might be olive oil etc. Eventually I got to the point where I never pay full price for anything and I keep a 3-6 month supply of food in our freezer and pantry. Produce comes from our garden or the farmers market. I also do canning so throughout the growing season I鈥檓 buying different types of produce in bulk and canning or freezing it. 

    I do keep a separate category for bulk meat purchases. 2-3 times a year we buy meat in bulk - ie) a full pig, a side of beef, a bunch of chickens (we buy from local farmers so whenever it鈥檚 butchering time we stock up). I like to keep that money separate because if it gets mixed in with grocery money it will get spent on grocery stock up items. 

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  • I use one category for all food for at home cooking, including other items from the supermarket (just dishwasher tablets, that sort of thing), regardless where we buy it.  

    The spending does fluctuate a bit, but since I made sure it is well funded that isn鈥檛 a problem. Any money left over makes a start for next month.  

    Only the spending on average seems to have gone up a bit in the covid months, so I keep an eye on it to see if I need a more granular systeem to avoid a further increase.

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