Sunday, July 13, 2008

Inflation and my grocery bill

Have you started to feel like every grocery shopping trip is a "big one"? I have, so I decided to do a little under cover research (meaning I did this while sitting in bed resting my legs from our hike up Mt. Washington this weekend.)

Since JR and I started living together 3 years ago I have been tracking our food expenses. It's been well worth it since it has helped us make some good decisions in the past. For example, it was a comparative study of 3 months that made us quit the Park Slope Food Co-op and start using Fresh Direct. We have also, on numerous occasions cut back on eating out and buying lunch at work to save a few pennies.

In general, a normal week of grocery shopping for us was under $100, and a big week was about $115. I didn't track every penny, but at long as our expenses were within that range, I didn't worry or think I was buying anything too excessive.

Then we moved to Boston, and whole bunch of things changed. First, we started cooking a lot more (because we have a fabulous kitchen and a grill) and eating out a lot less. We also stopped using FreshDirect because it's (sadly) not available in Boston, and started shopping a lot more at Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods) and Trader Joes. So I accepted that for a couple months, I would have wait and see what our food expenses in Boston were.

The thing is, they seemed really high. I mentioned it to JR at one point and he commented on inflation, but I was still trying to blame on our lifestyle changes. As our weekly expenses have crept upward, we stopped shopping at Whole Foods almost all together, and make a point to go to Shaws for our big shopping every week. I am also paying a lot more attention to the sales, and this weekend we even talked about starting to cut coupons.

Which got us discussing what was happening, and spawned my undercover investigation. One of the beautiful things about FreshDirect (among many many things, not the least of which was that they delivered) is that they store all your orders on their site. So this evening I went back to last summer, and took at look at what we were spending. Then, I re-added each shopping list to the cart for 6 weeks to see what the same weeks worth of groceries would cost me this year.

On average, it was 10% more expensive this year than last year. 10 PERCENT!!! That's more than even I expected. I recognize that 6 weeks isn't a huge about of data, so in my free time I am going to continue adding weeks to get better numbers. I'll update you to my final findings. In the meantime, enjoy the cartoons.

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