It still amazes me that most month's we are over $1000 in the food category. Now, this does include more than just food (cuz I'm too darn lazy to spend time trying to split up the categories of a receipt that has items from all sorts of categories). It includes pet food/supplies, household/cleaning supplies, and personal care items, and fast food/take out.
I do the bulk of the grocery shopping once a week - or at least that is always my goal, but I usually end up back at the stores at least a couple of more times during the week. So, for now, I'm trying to just keep the monthly spending at no more than $1000 and I'm writing down what I spend daily, in a notebook. So, $1000 a month works out to about $250 a week in the budget, most months (sometimes there are those months with 5 Fridays, my usual grocery shopping day, in them.). When I go do my main day of grocery shopping I usually end up spending around $150, sometimes a little less. The problem is I really do try to make a complete list of everything I think I'll need for the week - so why do I end up at the store so many more times?! ARGH!!
If I try to overestimate what we need/will eat I end up with excess and have to throw out (strawberries are a good example), but if I buy just the minimal amount I run out. I bought a 3lb container of strawberries, thinking this would be plenty for the week and they were gone as of Monday night. I bought the same amount of bottled water (DH won't drink our well water because he doesn't trust that the well owner does the "required" annual testing - since it's basically on the honor system in this county) as I usually do, but am almost out already. A warm week and lots of outside work is probably the reason he drank so much more.
This is where I am at so far in spending on food for this week (starting last Friday):
Main grocery shopping trip: $110.86 (this is pretty low for me!)
Take out 15.09
Small grocery trip 19.50
Take out 14.59 (I got DH and DS McD's the night DD and I went to eat where she works)
Dinner out with DD 12.19 ($8.19 meal -we had a free meal that we split, just had drinks and a side of hashbrown, plus $4 tip)
Dairy Queen 9.59 (because I was out of strawberries and DH wanted a dessert snack last night)
Total so far out of the $250 budget - $181.82. I do my main grocery shopping trip and come out of the store thinking 'woo hoo - I only spent $110 and I think I got everything I'll need for the week!'
I'll need to stop at the store today to pick up water, soda, strawberries and a loaf of bread, adding approximately another $16 to the total. If I can stay out of the store tomorrow, I will still have $53 leftover from my $250 budget. Not bad, considering I have apparently been spending more than that each week, but it frustrates me to make a list of everything I think we need and spend $110 and then find myself back at the store spending more money because we are out of things. I am hoping this exercise of writing all the expenses down will help me to plan my grocery list even better, so I am not making all these extra trips. I plan out meals, etc, but just either don't plan quantities right on misc things or just plain forget to add something to the list.
That extra $53 this week, that I didn't spend out of the $250 budget, is going toward my total failure at estimating DH's driver's license renewal! Due to him having a construction company for 20+ years, he's always had a CDL endorsement on his license. Even though he can't drive anymore, he is not willing to let that expire off his license. There is always hope in the back of his mind that the doctors will figure out something to help him and he could one day go back to work. That, plus that fact that our state now makes it damn tough to get a CDL without spending LOTS of money. Used to be you could just learn to drive from someone who had a truck (for free) and go take the test. Now you have to go to an approved driving school that costs min of $3000 before you can take the test. DH really wants DS to get his CDL (even race car drivers have need of it if they are pulling a race hauler) but we can't afford the $3000! Anyhow, I had budgeted $50 for DH to renew his license, totally forgetting that the CDL endorsement would cost more - his total driver's license renewal was $145!.