Grocery Tracking 2020 – Pandemic Edition!

In January of this year we decided it was high time we did another one-month grocery tracking post, since our last one was in 2017. We decided to do it in March, as we always do, for two reasons: We need to do it in a month when we’re not travelling anywhere, and also a month with 31 days so we can’t be accused of using a short month. All was set and decided on, we went ahead and started tracking March 1st, and then, well, the pandemic hit and the world went crazy. We did it anyway. Here’s how it went.

The first week was normal as far as shopping went. Second week grocery stores were getting a little low on some things. Then week three hit, along with social distancing rules, recommendations to stay home, panic buying, Cel getting really sick and unable to leave home, and general chaos all around. Week four was basically a repeat of week three but ramped up a bit more. So while we powered through and tracked anyway, the month’s results really are not super representative of our normal shopping – but pretty interesting anyways. We surprisingly ended up spending a similar amount to our norms despite pretty big upheaval to our system. So here it is – our long overdue, updated for 2020 Grocery Tracking Project.

The way this thing works is basically for one solid month we keep all our grocery receipts, and I make a spreadsheet to categorize every penny spent, as well as everything I cook. We don’t do any sort of advance stocking up, though obviously we’re not starting (or ending, for that matter) the project with an empty kitchen.

We do these projects to dispel the various myths around food spending. Some people believe ridiculous things like healthy eating is expensive, vegan eating is expensive, low spending means eating shitty food, and so on. We feel that providing our own hard data can help counteract the excuses and lies people tell, and also help people who are newer at this stuff to learn how it all works.

We are both vegans, but in the interest of not writing “vegan” five hundred times in this report, please just assume that everything listed is the vegan version, and don’t fill the comments with “but sausage isn’t vegan” – yeah, no shit.

Let’s delve into some numbers and data. We spent $268.82. Here’s what we bought.



Broccoli, Cabbage, Onions, Peppers, Tomato Sauce, Apples, Bok Choy, Mushrooms, Cauliflower, Carrots, Zucchini, Blueberries, Orange Juice, Lemons, Green Onions, Potatoes, Garlic


Ground Beef, Tofu, Peanut Butter, Meatballs, Chicken, Hummus, Sausage, Beef, Seitan


Soy Milk, Mozzarella, Margarine, Yogurt, Almond Milk


Waffle Fries, Cooking Oil, Yeast, Cumin, Chili Sauce, Kung Pao Sauce


Flour, Rice, Cereal, Pasta, Corn Starch


Dish Soap, Toilet Paper, Tissues, Bar Soap

And here’s what we ate for the month:


Cereal Toast, Oatmeal, Banana Cake, Bran Muffins, Spiced Apple Cake, Lemon Tart, Oatmeal Muffins, Blondies, Bread, Carrot Cake


Lemongrass Noodles, Bacon & Cabbage Pasties, Chili, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Lentil Stew, Stir Fry, Burritos, Sausage Pasta, Pot Pie, Wraps, Pizza, Curry Seitan, Quiche, Tofu Kung Pao

There was no restaurant spending because a) we don’t like it, and b) Vancouver has shut all the restaurants down.

We managed to eat very well despite the pandemic situation, though there was more repetition of dishes than we normally have, and also a lot of creative cooking substitutions to work around what was and wasn’t available in stores.

Overall, this was a very successful grocery tracking month, and we hope the next one will be in better circumstances.


    • Ditto! Would love a cookbook, or meal planning insights.

      I’ve been pulling things from the pantry to use up expired foods, since I’m home and staring into the cupboards anyway. Our grocery list is still down, but soy milk, vegan cheese, and other “specialty” items drive our food bill up. And brand loyalty, which is probably a big one. And too much (animal) protein, not enough produce.

      I spent $160 yesterday, for a week of food, for the 3 of us in a suburb of Boston, MA, USA.

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