The Grocery Spending Spreadsheet

This is month 5 of The Year Of Buying Nothing. Inspired by An Exacting Life, I’ve now been tracking our grocery spending via spreadsheet for four months. It is past time to give you an update. I wrote about it initially here.

Line Items

Each item we purchase gets a line. Aldi gives each of their items a 4-6 digit number which appears on the receipt, that makes life SO easy for us. We’ve had to make up our own numbers for the Coles items. After 4 months of shopping, I can now say how many lines we buy from each of these stores. It is far less than I imagined it would be, especially from Coles.

It is important to note that this number is constantly changing – each shop may add up to 10 new items at Aldi or 3-4 at Coles. Also we keep note of identical items and the price we paid for those. When an item is the same brand just a different size, that gets a new line, eg Manning Valley eggs account for 3 Coles line items because they are available in 3 different sizes (600g, 700g, 800g) at 3 different prices.

Line Items Coles = 55

Of the 55 items we buy from Coles, 9 of these are non-food eg patty pans, deodorant when it was on super special, or baking paper in a size we cannot buy at Aldi.

I can now state that 16 of the items are “junk” foods. When I say that I specifically mean highly processed bad foods that we really should not eat like “twisties” and “french fries”. Some of those are items I personally do not eat, like Cinnamon Doughnuts. The Other Half likes those, it is his fortnightly treat, some of them go to work with him the days after we shop which gives me a couple of days to bake his cinnamon muffins or his from-scratch low sodium biscuits.

2 of the line items from Coles are potatoes when they were cheaper at Coles. 4 of the line items from Coles are tea or coffee related. 2 of the line items are chicken treats – yoghurt and mealworms. 3 of the line items are Manning Valley eggs.

Line Items Aldi = 143

Of the 143 items, 18 are non food eg deodorant, shampoo, toilet roll, tissues, even reed diffusers. Aldi make a fantastic reed diffuser FYI – we love the coconut and mango one, it smells amazing.

Only 14 of the 143 items are things I would consider to be “junk” foods.

32 of the line items are fresh fruits and vegetables.

18 items are dairy eg cheese, butter, cream. 8 of the items are meat/chicken/fish.

How Does It Work?

Each week before we shop, I create the new pages for that shopping trip. Each shop at each store gets a page in the spreadsheet.

It is fairly simple – you have to copy the blank spreadsheet page and give it a new name. But I have from time to time messed it up and left it on move instead of copy. Lesson has been learned, I am very strict about selecting copy now!

Once we have done the shopping, I sit down with the receipt and enter in all the item numbers first, when I hit enter it pulls the description from the lookup sheet then goes to the next line so I can put in the next item number.

Once all the items have been entered, I move across and add in the prices, then the quantities. Most of the time the quantity will be 1, but in cases where it is $ per kg, I enter the amount purchased and the spreadsheet does the maths for me.

When I’m done listing the items we purchased, I add in the CC surcharge in and make sure the total amount matches the receipt. I have the Coles Mastercard and thus anything I spend earns me flybuys points. It does add up over the course of the year, so that is the main card I use now.

The Coles spreadsheet is slightly different – as I do not get charged a surcharge for credit card there, we have added a field where I can minus the $10 flybuys discount we use from time to time. This will allow me to track when we do this and how much it saves us over the course of the year.

How Does This Spreadsheet Help Me?

I am more familiar with the pricing of items overall thanks to this spreadsheet. That is mainly because I am the one entering all the data. We were out at dinner recently and someone was talking about an item and I was able to name what we last paid for it off the top of my head.

I can spot mistakes easily and go back for a refund, as I did in month three – “Aldi had weighed our one lot of sweet potatoes twice, and charged us twice for them. We only bought one lot of sweet potatoes. I am not normally someone who asks for a refund but it was nearly $10, so I took the receipt in and explained what happened. They gave me a refund.”

That event taught me to stand in a particular spot and watch as we check out, so I can spot any mis-keys and prevent us buying 2.5kg of red capsicum when I purposely chose green because it was cheaper, or accidental double ups like above.

We are far more conscious about how much we buy and how much we use. We have a good idea of the base number of items we need each fortnight so that we do not run out of essentials like milk or toilet paper.

There is less food wastage than ever before in our kitchen. Part of that is due to freezing more items – in particular mushrooms.

We are better able to purchase items on special and bulk process and freeze them. Last fortnight I bought 2kg of mushrooms on special at $3.99, part cooked them and froze 7 packets, which will give me 7 weeks of pizza mushrooms. If they are on special again in the meantime, I will buy more and process them. In the meantime I can enjoy not having to buy them for $4.99.

This spreadsheet has been extremely useful for us and I cannot imagine we would stop doing this.

What Next?

The Spreadsheet Maestro has already begun creating useful ways to look at the data we are collecting. At the end of the year we will have a lot of data to play with and it will be interesting to see exactly where our grocery shopping dollar goes.

Aldi keep adding more products to their range meaning we have less to buy at Coles – just recently they added lactose free yoghurt. It would be fantastic to be able to do all our shopping in one place, however I think the reality will always be as it is now, most of the shop at Aldi with just a few items from Coles.

If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet with all the Aldi line items let me know in the comments and I will email it to you. I will take out all the Coles data and also all our shops.

2018yobn, spreadsheets

Things I Did Not Buy April

In April I did not buy an item of food. At Christmas we had family and friends over, and one of them brought a double cream Brie by Castello. I’d not eaten any cheese at all in over 6 months but planned to cheese board it up on Christmas Day, so I had heaps of cheese already available.

The brie went into the fridge where it stayed until mid-February, when we had family and friends around again and I thought I would use up the left over cheese. And wow. WOW. That cheese was amazing, probably the best cheese I have ever eaten in my lifetime.

So at our second April shop, I thought maybe I would buy one of these. I went to pick it up from the fridge but was stopped by the price – it was $7.40 at the time. Err, no thanks, that will blow our budget and it is a tiny amount of cheese for that price. I gave the cheaper Aldi version ($4.99 for 200g) a try at our first May shop. I think it tastes just as good.

The one reason I was going to break my self enforced cheese abstinence was that I had some Beerenberg quince paste to go along with it. I am only a recent soft cheese and quince paste convert and I think it is lucky that I have given up cheese for the most part, with only an occasional cheese eating, otherwise I would like this for a snack every day. I’d like to do a brie & quince paste chicken kiev sometime. Maybe with the strawberry and champagne paste pot.

If this were not cold shoulder I might have been tempted, just look at that gorgeous print! They are lovely and long, too. Why, designers, WHY?

Last winter I got very cold due to my thyroid issues. I mostly survived thanks to hoodies, beanies, gloves, scarves and these Ghanda crew neck long sleeve fleece jumpers. I had one in this same shade of pink and one in blue for around the house wear, and they are looking pretty ratty. I am thinking about replacing them but I might have to go in store and see if they have anything different this year. Sometimes they do not put everything on the website.

OMG TVSN WTFBBQ!!!!Q!QQ!! This is the worst thing you have ever done to me. Long sleeve tops that have some sparkle, length and a decent neck line? If this was not The Year Of Buying Nothing, I would have been tempted to purchase this top in all four colours.

And I would purchase this top in both colours. While I am not a big fan of the V-neck, I do love a stripe, plus it has sequins. If you have been looking for this kind of top maybe you can head over and grab it if they have it in your size.

2018yobn, TVSN

The Winter Knit

Every autumn, I kick off the yearly knitwear search. I traditionally buy one piece of knitwear to add to my wardrobe and that is the one I wear for that year. This year I am taking a break from this tradition due to my Year Of Buying Nothing challenge. But I thought I could still have the fun of making a small collection of knits I would go and look at if I were in the market for one. Maybe one of my readers is looking for a new one?

Just be aware, I have absolutely no idea if the prices will remain the same as when I took the screenshots, so I have provided links to each item and you can click through and check the current price. These are not affiliate links and I do not earn anything for linking, just so you know. :)

I find Rivers to be a somewhat reliable source of knitwear. Last year I bought the Rivers Edge to Edge cardigan in cobalt blue and also in a lovely shade of teal seen above. You can get this in several different colours including black. This is very reasonably priced at $21.00.

You can also get the Edge to Edge cardigan in a long line version with pockets, shown here in the gorgeous cobalt blue – they call it ink marle.. That is a lot of knit for $24.50! If you prefer a chunky knit, you might like the Fisherman Rib Coatigan.

This Metallic V-Neck might be awesome and I would be tempted if it were available in a darker shade. They have silver and baby pink, neither of which are very me.

Another semi-reliable Snoskred source of knitwear is Millers – though their clothes can skew very Miss Marple Solves A Murder While Knitting Something New, AKA fluffy.

I had a look through their website and only liked this one thing, which I had seen on their ad. Though I suspect it would either be fabulous or NOT great in person. I don’t love the colour but I do like that it has some sparkly.

It may be a little early in the season because they only have one poncho in “neutral” which I strongly dislike. I love a poncho generally.

Rockmans is one other place I visit for knitwear.

I love this knit because it is in the “mixed media” style, but I hate the colours. It also seems to be on the thin side overall, which isn’t a huge problem but sometimes that kind of knit shows every lump and bump on your body.

UPDATE TO ADD: I was going past a Rockmans yesterday and I dropped in to take a look at this jumper. It was HIDEOUS as were 99% of the other knits they had in store. I can’t even describe how bad it was. Just so, so BAD! The “wool” looked like the cheapest possible yarn which you would get from a $2 store for .25 cents. Ew.

While at Rockmans I spotted this scarf which is completely me. I would never pay this amount for it, but I can keep an eye on it and grab it when it is on super special.

This has been a useful exercise for me because while I love all of these knits – especially the long line cardi in blue – I do not need to buy any of them. Good to know! ;)

I had my skeleton Carter model some of my winter knits back in 2015, and you can enjoy those posts here.

Fashion

Year Of Buying Nothing Update #4

Nothing was required, so nothing was purchased. YAY. Our record thus far – January, February, April = nothing bought. March = something bought. One out of 4 is not bad, especially when you consider I didn’t go crazy and shop up a storm in the Nay month, I just bought those few things we needed at IKEA then went right back to no-buying.

No Spend Days April

My goal this month was 13 days in a row no spend goal – if not for the TVSN final payment falling on the wrong day I would have achieved 15 days in between spends.

The last entry includes a gift voucher I bought for Mum for Mothers Day, so she can try having her nails done.

No Spend Goals For May

Next month I will try something a bit different – a maximum of one spend day each week. Now that the TVSN payment is completed, I should have absolute control over this. There are 5 weeks in May and I would like to limit my spend days to 4 in total if possible.

I am concerned that I might not have enough warm clothes for winter and may need to make either May or June Nay months instead of Yay months on the no-buy challenge. I did a wardrobe re-organise and washed everything that hasn’t been worn during summer and spring, so we will see how that goes.

Grocery Spending April

Grocery Budget for April = $600

Coles month – $158.35
Aldi month – $425.54
Bulk Chicken $37.85
Total grocery spend – $621.74
Grocery cost of $20.72/day.

We went 21.74 over budget this month thanks to a dishwasher tablet special @37 cents a tablet, we bought 4 bags so hopefully we will not need those again for a while – and bulk chicken on special ($6.99/kg).

Coles tried to tempt us into spending $80 a week for 4 weeks to earn $50 in flybys points. We could not even spend $80 in the first week, even after buying two quite expensive chicken roasts @ $15 each, now on special for $12 of course – which we tried the first fortnight and decided we loved enough to put a couple in the freezer.. they are almost like the Lenards mini roasts we used to buy. The stuffing is delicious, I highly recommend. :)

There was simply not enough of the things we buy on special to add up to $80. We have stocked up on most of our regular buys in past months.

Three of the items I had planned to buy at Coles that week I found at Aldi for a lot less $$. The most notable item being chai spice latte powder. I had planned to buy the Arkadia version at Coles which was on special for $5.20 and found a seemingly identical item at Aldi for $4.49 – they have matcha and turmeric latte powder available there too.

I wanted this to add chai flavour to my lattes and protein shakes. The first ingredient is sugar, and they suggest you use four heaped teaspoons which would be a LOT of sugar. I find one normal teaspoon is usually enough and I replace one of my sugar teaspoons in afternoon coffee with this. What I love most is the star anise flavour in this powder, it is gorgeous and not always present in Chai tea. The powder is great sprinkled on top of milk foam, too.

Grocery Spending Goals For May

We last bought potatoes in bulk on the 15th of March and we are still eating those same potatoes. I’ll make it through this week but we will probably have to buy some on our next shop. I may suggest we head up to Shellharbour and do another bulk buy though there is a big airshow on at Albion Park this weekend which will make getting around a bit troublesome.

We may up the vegetable buying this month as it is time for making winter soups, and I need to get some Vili’s pasties from the bulk shop. We just did a bulk chicken buy of 5kg and that made us 5 x2 packs of Chicken Kiev for the freezer, as well as 4 lots of chicken pieces.

I cooked 68 sausage rolls in one bulk cook, 66 of which went into the freezer. Yes we only ate two! I made “Meat Thing” which is essentially my sausage roll mixture (beef mince, carrot, brussel sprouts, leek, egg, cheese, whizz in the food processor, make into sausage rolls) put into muffin tins without pastry for dinner.

May has 31 days so the grocery budget is $620.

April Thoughts

Happy moments, the Brussels are back at last! I knew they would be appearing soon so I had added them to this months shopping list.

In April we had an incident with the best before date on some thickened cream ending one week into our fortnight, when the thing I had planned to cook with it was in the second week. So now I will write the date of our next shop on each shopping list and we will aim to get milk, cream, and other short life products to expire on/after that date.

2018yobn

Ikea Non Buys

LOOK the deities are trying to show me the way to IKEA. Sorry deities, I am 100% aware of where IKEA is thanks! ;)

And Now Snoskred Presents – Things I Did Not Buy From IKEA In March. Written towards the end of April, because time completely got away from me recently. Actually I have a stack of posts in part-finished format and I will need to focus in on that in May.

Overall, what I did not buy was a lot less stuff than I thought. We definitely need new black out curtains for our bedroom and my lounge room. These SOLIDASTER are beautiful. The black part feels like a flocked velvet. #tobuy2019 :)

We already have two MATLUST chopping boards so I resisted buying another one or several. These are great for pizza night, they do not curl up with the extra heat.

The MOLGAN is very handy for night time. We have a version of this in our ensuite and I would like to add in a couple more to other parts of the house, maybe the hallway and the other toilet.

I could have bought all the candles but I restrained myself and did not buy a single one. These NJUTNING were a bit up money but they did smell fantastic. The website says – A spicy scent of bergamot and tea with warm milk. When the candle has burnt itself out the cup can be used as a tealight holder. – I have never had any success turning one of these cups into a candle holder. There must be a way to do it, if I ever buy one of these I will google that. :)

You can see what we did buy here – I am happy to report that after several bulk cooks, these KONCIS were exactly what we needed and they dishwash beautifully.

2018yobn, IKEA

Friday Funny 2

bestphotoever

First up, best photo ever used in an ad trying to sell something!

Secondly, let me see if I have this straight. This rust bucket will cost me $200, unless I choose to risk my life and try starting this car which has not been started in five years, and for risking my life I have to pay an extra $300? WTF?

If I try it and it does not work, is that still an extra $300? What if I buy it for $200, take it away on a trailer, and try it without you knowing, will you hunt me down for the extra $300?

I “recon” that the seller will be keeping this rust bucket for a while! ;)

Fail Whale, wrong world

An Aussie Visitor

On Easter Monday there was a kitty commotion. Grumpy is our door guard, and sometimes she behaves like there is a cat outside and there *is* and other times she behaves that way and I can see nothing at all. But this time, there was quite a sight to be seen! And she was freaking out. I looked out the window and dropped everything I was doing, ran out the back and told The Other Half to put down the hose and follow me.

I’d read on Facebook that a property nearby had a resident Echidna and it had dropped in to visit.

It climbed up on the windowsill to stare at Grumpy, and you can see Grumpy was Not Amused, or perhaps just not sure what the heck this was. But it did not just want to visit us in the front yard, and promptly went and dug under the fence. Seeing what was likely to happen, we had already locked the chooks up. The minute this thing climbed under the fence, the girls went crazy, side eye-ing, bagerking and clucking up a storm.

It was starting to get dark, so something had to be done. Lucky we have a country farm boy living here, and lucky he is a welder and had some serious gloves handy. You do not want to handle one of these creatures without major protection.

The first thing they do is try to dig themselves in. They are very determined creatures, but so is The Other Half.

This lovely creature was relocated back to the property it lives on. :)

Aussie Culture, country life

Things I Did Not Buy March

Those candle holders outlined in pink are just perfect for my candle shelf, but #yobn too bad so sad. I am a *bit* sad about this one though, because I think they would reflect the candle light beautifully and also allow me to put a couple of candles up higher. They are at Haven & Space in Berry and the deal with that place is a little bit like Costco – if you don’t buy it when you see it chances are you won’t see it again.

Maybe I will add this to my List Of Things To Look For in 2019 which will be very easy, just look back through all these posts and see what I did not buy. And speaking of things I want to add to my List Of Things To Buy In 2019.. I would like to get a decent ring.

I have several rings which no longer fit me. One of which is mystic topaz that I bought in Hawaii and I am thinking now maybe I will get that put into a new setting of some kind. More than likely silver because I prefer that.

It might be time to take my stuff in and get a price on having this done, because jewellery sitting unworn is a bit of a waste, and it is technically not *buying* something. I’m probably going to visit a local jeweller to do this and will likely buy a ring locally in 2019 but I do like some of the rings available on TVSN, mostly the NY Gems and Dallas Prince stuff.

I have been eyeing this ring for about 6 months now. But I have no idea what ring size I am. Interestingly I asked them to send me a ring sizer back when I ordered my Pilates machine, and it has never arrived. I wonder if this is fate, or perhaps #yobn special powers.

This top is totally my thing, except for the neckline.

This is the kind of thing I went looking for in the latter half of 2017 and did not find, so I ended up with these tops from Factorie.

TVSN had themselves a little Easter Saturday sale, and HOOLEY DOOLEY I would so have bought a couple of things, if not for #yobn magically selling out my sizes. My Boo Radley dress I did not buy in January at $59.95 was now $34.95, but totally sold out in my size.

And this cute little dress which I totally would have bought in black was only available in grey in my size and I did not love the grey one. You can see why – look how all the details pop on the black one and kinda vanish on the grey. I have seen a lot of their garments locally and have always been impressed with the quality even if the item was not my style.

These would have been a great addition to my winter wardrobe and at those prices I would not have minded breaking my #yobn pledge – when we are talking about saving over $100 and it is a designer one loves and enjoys, it becomes a bargain and we have a rule about that in this house, too.

This post became too long to add in the IKEA stuff so that will be a post on its own! ;)

2018yobn

Year Of Buying Nothing Update #3

March was the first month where something was purchased. Yes, it was a need, not a want. Even so.. in keeping with the spirit of the challenge, this is our first nay month.

No Spend Days

While I do want less spend days, I do not want to let them stop us from having experiences. As The Other Half was on holidays for the first two weeks of March, the spend days were more often than usual this month. My goal for a 13 day stretch of no spending was a bit unrealistic given the situation.

A Note About Fuel

That is the first time you will have seen fuel on our spend lists this year, and I want to point out that was not fuel for my car. The Other Half buys his own fuel and it does not appear on our spend lists because I have zero control over when he chooses or needs to do that. On this occasion I bought his fuel. The no-spend challenge is 100% mine and I am only counting buying decisions I make, or money that comes out of *my* accounts.

I have not put fuel into my Polo yet this year. You might think I am not using it, but you’d be wrong. It is not driving very far when it does go driving, but it does get out and about and racks up 30kms or so each week. My car is incredibly fuel efficient. I will get at least 600kms out of each tank of fuel and if you do the maths, 30×13 = 390. I estimate I will need to fill it up around week 20 (15th of May) of this year unless I suddenly up my mileage.

The other Polo does a lot more driving but even so, putting fuel into that car is quite rare. If you are interested I will go through The Other Half’s account and give you a chart of his fuel fillups. I am going to ask him to track his fuel from now on but it will not be seen in the no-spend spreadsheet.

A Note About Large Numbers Seen Above

We did our regular eye tests at Specsavers this month, and both of us needed new prescriptions, thus new glasses. I got one pair as my change was not hugely significant and all my old glasses and sunglasses will still work, The Other Half got two new pairs of reading glasses.

There is a large number for Bulk Nutrients in the final week of March – I bought 15kg of protein. I’m going to talk more about that in a separate post next Wednesday.

No Spend Goals For April

This month I should have no trouble at all meeting my March 13 day no spend goal.

Grocery Spending

We absolutely smashed our grocery goal this month. We were nearly $60 under budget. $20 of that is me taking $10 off our Coles shop twice, but I think a fairly good portion of our saving is because we’ve stocked up big when things we regularly use are on special and we’re not having to buy as much stuff when we shop.

We also bought fruit and veg in bulk including 15kg of potatoes while on our way back from the food festival. I made a huge pot of soup the following weekend and we have plenty of leftovers from that. On colder days I have the soup with protein added.

We bought a big 5kg bag of Laucke wholemeal bread machine mix this month – it was on special for $13.10 and we will not need to buy bread mix again for quite a while. The Other Half is the one who eats bread for the most part but I will usually have one slice when we make an occasional loaf.

Coles March – $105.75
Aldi March – $434.28
Bulk Fruit & Veg $19.47
Total grocery spend – $559.50
Grocery cost of $18.04/day.

Grocery Spending Goals For April

For the rest of this challenge I will be trying to get that daily number down, but it might creep back up a little bit when I do some new maths.

I’ve noticed we are getting low on dishwasher tablets, so that is on my keep an eye out for a good special list. April has 30 days, so I am setting the budget at $600 this month. If the special on dishwasher tablets is good enough, I may blow the budget, just so we don’t have to buy them again for a while. This will be the first time we have had to buy them in 2018, and I had not bought them for a long time in 2017 because the special was so great we stocked up HUGE.

Shopping Incidents

There were a couple of “incidents” this month with grocery shopping.

We’d very carefully planned out our Coles shop and everything went perfectly. We spent $84 at the checkout and if I spent $80, I earned another $10 off my shop. Right before I went to pay, the checkout asked me if I want to take $10 off my shop – and not realising this would mean my total became $74 instead of $84, I stupidly chose yes.

I was so mad at myself, then I became mad at Coles and felt a bit like I’d been scammed. I think $10 off should be a form of payment almost like a gift card, not a reduction in your overall spend.

In the meantime, unknown to myself, Aldi had weighed our one lot of sweet potatoes twice, and charged us twice for them. We only bought one lot of sweet potatoes. I am not normally someone who asks for a refund but it was nearly $10, so I took the receipt in and explained what happened. They gave me a refund.

This has happened occasionally since we began our receipt spreadsheets but usually they have selected the wrong item eg once they chose red onions instead of green capsicum, and I nearly went mad trying to work out where these onions we supposedly bought had gone, then asked the other half if he remembered putting them away. He did not, and checked the receipt again, we eventually worked out what happened.

So before we leave the store in future I will be checking the receipt. Plus I will keep a closer eye on the screen as the checking out happens. Usually I am so busy watching The Other Half fill the trolley with scanned items that I forget to look at the screen.

I have to tell you, The Other Half at the checkout is quite a sight to see and I was not sure how I would be able to look away from it. :) But on our second shop this month, I stood behind the trolley and set my eyes firmly on the checkout LCD readout, and before we left the store I double checked the receipt to make sure the items were correctly scanned.

March Thoughts

Overall March felt a bit like a fail. But it really was not. The grocery spend was the lowest it has ever been. I did some big batch cooking to bring it down even more.

2018yobn