Last time, I posted my grocery budget for singles, including a breakdown of where this money went over a three month period. This was basically how I ate while I was in university. I lived alone (stupid, stupid, stupid… !) and given the high costs of housing in Vancouver, I had to learn to maximize my budget. It worked out pretty well for me. I cooked most of my meals at home and supplemented this budget with the occasional dinner at my parents’ house. If I decided to go out for a meal socially with friends, I took this out of my Entertainment/Spending money.

But like most people, eventually we find that after adapting to feeding just ourselves, we add more people to the mix! When my boyfriend and I moved in together, I had to once again rethink the grocery budget. It helped that he liked my cooking and I could tolerate his. I also helped that we both enjoyed eating rice frequently. But he needed more cereal and milk, while I needed less meat than he was used to. So it was back to the drawing board.

What supplies do we have already?

Chances are, if you are a individual moving in with another individual, you are not starting from scratch. The exact details will vary, but I’m going to assume that you have some seasonings(salt, peppter, maybe a few spices), a bit of the necessities (oil, flour, maybe a few sauces), and some odds and ends in the fridge and pantry. Not stellar, but not an empty kitchen either. If you ARE starting from scratch, it is still possible to use this budget, though your first few months may be out of whack as you accumulate things or you may have to go without certain items until the next month.

What are we going to eat?!

We decided to do 2 major shops a month, with sporadic trips to the local market to pick up fruits and vegetables during the week.  At the major shops, we would get staples, meats and canned goods, as well as bulk packaged fruits and veggies such as potatoes and carrots.

For the first shop in the month, we usually go to Superstore.  This is a large, chain supermarket which carries just about everything.

For the second shop of the month, we usually go to an Asian supermarket which has excellent prices on ethnic foods, fruits and veggies, and prepared items such as BBQ pork.

You’ll also notice two new categories: Personal and Shop Meal.

    Month 1 Month 2 Month 3
1st shop Meats Beef – ground or roast cut ($11) Chicken – 2 whole or legs/thighs ($11) Pork – side ribs, chops, tenderloin ($11)
    Eggs – 2 dozen ($4) Eggs – 2 dozen ($4) Eggs – 2 dozen ($4)
  Fruits and Veggies Assorted ($30) Assorted ($30) Assorted ($30)
  Dairy Milk 2L ($2) Milk 2L ($2) Milk 2L ($2)
    Yogurt ($5) Yogurt ($5) Yogurt ($5)
    Cheese ($5) Cheese ($5) Cheese ($5)
  Grains Bread ($3) Bread ($3) Bread ($3)
  Misc Canned goods ($20) Cooking supplies ($20) Dry goods ($20)
  Personal Anything ($10) Anything ($10) Anything ($10)
  Shop Meal Anything ($10) Anything ($10) Anything ($10)
    Month 1 Month 2 Month 3
2nd Shop Meats Seafood eg. Bag of shrimp or fish ($10) Seafood eg. Bag of shrimp or fish ($10) Seafood eg. Bag of shrimp or fish ($10)
      Other eg. Sausages, deli meats, tofu or bacon ($5) Other eg. Sausages, deli meats, tofu or bacon ($5)
  Fruits and Veggies Assorted ($30) Assorted ($30) Assorted ($30)
  Dairy Yogurt ($5) Yogurt ($5) Yogurt ($5)
      Cheese ($5) Cheese ($5)
  Grains Rice 40lbs ($30)    
    Artisan breads ($5) Artisan breads ($5) Artisan breads ($5)
      Rice noodles($5) Chow mein ($5)
  Misc   Anything ($15) Anything ($15)
  Personal Anything ($10) Anything ($10) Anything ($10)
  Shop Meal Anything ($10) Anything ($10) Anything ($10)

What’s personal?

We realized early on that there were some things which only one of us ate or wanted!  He enjoyed the occasional bag of nachos and salsa.  I have great fondness for marinated tripe.  So, we allocate $5 each from each $100 grocery shop towards buying anything for ourselves.  We’ve found this to be a good compromise as it lets us “cheat” on our otherwise healthy diet and buy something that we enjoy.

What’s a shop meal?

We also found that we would be exceedingly grumpy and hungry after grocery shops!  When we got home, we’d rush to make dinner and just end up tired and exhausted at the end of the night.

So we decided to put $10 from each shop towards buying something for dinner.  Sometimes we get a pizza, sometimes we get a bit of Asian fast food with rice.  The important part is that we are guaranteed a dinner that requires little to no preparation!  The reduces stress considerably and also lets us enjoy a meal immediately after getting home.  A win-win situation.

In the end…

It’s important to note that these are just general guidelines which summarize our grocery buying habits. Sometimes we buy more fish if it’s a good sale or if salmon is in season. Sometimes we stock up on canned goods when we have coupons. But these guidelines are the starting point from which I base my shopping.