-Written by Steph
After a long month of keeping receipts and categorizing every ingredient we bought, as well as making detailed meal plans every week, the results of our experiment are in – we have official data! Results are as follows:
First of all, we have two totals for groceries – we’ve taken to calling them “fantasy dollars” and “reality dollars”. We had a few gift cards and some store credit to use up, but kept records of what the totals would have been without them.
Total for the month: $235.62 in Fantasy Dollars, $181.04 in Reality Dollars (in other words, $181.04 spent in cash, and $54.58 spent in gift cards, for a total of $235.62 worth of groceries).
And here’s what we bought (pictures of the grocery receipts here):
Produce: 29%, $69.42
Broccoli, onions, bananas, avocados, cauliflower, pears, carrots, zucchini, green onions, butternut squash, lime, red peppers, celery, red cabbage, cilantro, green peppers, radishes, sweet potatoes, grapefruits, eggplant, oranges, lettuce, tomatoes
“Dairy”: 17%, $39.44
Soy milk, almond yogurt, non-dairy cream cheese, non-dairy shredded cheese
Baking: 15%, $35.59
Margarine, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cooking oil, applesauce, shortening, salt
“Meat”/Tofu: 14%, $32.17
Veg frozen chicken breast, veg ground round, hummus, tofu puffs, regular tofu, red lentils
Nuts/Seeds: 8%, $17.88
Costco-size bag of hazelnuts, peanut butter
Grains: 6%, $15.30
Udon noodles, 10 grain hot cereal, whole wheat pita bread, lasagna noodles
Non-Food: 5%, $12.28
Toilet paper, cleaning wipes
Condiments: 4%, $8.98
Grape jam, raspberry jam
Canned: 2%, $4.56
Tomato sauce, apple juice
And a bonus – Meal planning for the month!
We were originally planning on stopping there, but instead we decided to go all-out and keep a record of how those purchases translate into food. So here’s what we ate for a month!
Breakfasts and snacks:
Toast with PBJ or avocado slices, nuts, fruit, cereal, guacamole, baked goods (see that category)
Bread, carrot muffins, bran muffins, chai muffins, raspberry muffins, banana muffins, raisin bran muffins, 10 grain muffins, mogyoro muffins (Hungarian hazelnut-orange) chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, brownies, blondies
Lunches and Dinners:
Tofu puff stir fry, one-pot pasta, calzones, deep dish pizza, curried chickpea pita wraps, pita sandwiches, vegetable pot pie, yakiudon, burritos, kung pao, ratatouille, blueberry pie (it was Pi Day!), lentil stew with biscuits, lasagna, breakfast for dinner, fried rice, shepherds pie, thin crust pizza, “chicken” stir fry, “chicken” stew, dahl with curry rice, casserole, roasted butternut squash with hummus and guacamole pitas, and of course ample leftovers from all of the above
Cel had a free employee appreciation lunch at work, and the two of us split an order of fries once, while out with some friends. We mention this to show that our grocery costs were not “subsidized” by eating at restaurants.
Here are the rough numbers for the stores we shopped at (we used some store gift cards that were not tracked in Mint, so the percentage breakdown is not 100% accurate. However, the $235 figure was the total value of the groceries we bought, so the gift cards don’t factor into that).
30% Costco (downtown location) – this was soy milk, veggie ground round, and hazelnuts.
20% No Frills (the one in the West End).
15% Whole Foods (this is higher than normal, usually it is less than 10%, some months we don’t even go to Whole Foods).
15% TnT (the one in Chinatown)
10% Nesters Market (the one in Gastown).
And the rest was IGA (both of the ones downtown) and some random places.
Overall, we were very happy with the results of the challenge. We were fairly accurate in our initial predictions of the percentages, which means we couldn’t have been completely clueless before. We have an idea what areas we could cut back in if we wanted to. And as a bonus, we now have something to refer to when people ask us what vegans eat, which is every five minutes. I encourage readers to give it a try and do your own one-month tracking challenge!