Minding The Details: Are Beverages Killing Your Grocery Budget?

MInding Details

I was bemoaning the cost of beer this week, when it occurred to me that even though I paid $7.99 for a 6 pack of Redd’s, I paid much more than that for all the beverages on my list combined.

I pulled out a few months of receipts and quickly did the math; I’ve been spending about $125 every month on drinks. That is more than a quarter of my $400 food budget.

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We are not soda drinkers. I have about 1-2 Cokes per month, and I prefer a fountain Coke from a drive-through. I only drink when I need to pull an all-nighter on a research paper or have to work a shift after being up with a kid all night. My husband won’t drink it and my kids have never had it. That Coke haul you see above was from my mother’s retirement party.

We do drink plenty of other things though. Our two younger kids drink milk and go through 3 gallons per week. We go through one half to one full gallon of orange juice, a half gallon of apple juice, and 4 quarts of vanilla soy milk every week. My husband drinks two pots of coffee every day ( no K-cups) and I drink 2-3 cups of black tea with half and half, bought loose leaf and brewed in a French press. My husband is the only alcohol-drinker in the house (I think it’s gross), and likes a beer 2-3 times per week. We go through a 6 pack every 2 weeks.

The truth is, water is the only beverage that is really a need, unless you are an infant or toddler who still needs formula or milk (assuming you can’t breastfeed), or have another medical need. In our house, we have a toddler and a child on a high-calorie diet who need whole milk, so those 3 gallons per week are not negotiable.

Everything else though? They are just luxuries.

Now, I’m not advocating never having a little luxury in your life ever, but if you are desperately in debt and can’t pay your bills, you need to take a long hard look at your beverage habits. We are not desperate or in debt by any means, but if I nixed everything but the milk I would only need to spend $300/month in groceries instead of $400.

When I was in nursing school, one of the ladies in my program was infamous for drinking a 12 pack of Coke every day. Between herself, her husband, and her kids, they went through two packs every day. That’s SIXTY 12-packs every month, and almost $200 every month, or $2400 per year.

Although that is an extreme case, I know many people who may spend just as much on craft beers, wine, energy drinks, K-cups, juice boxes, and Starbucks runs.

If you can’t meet your financial goals, and can’t seem to find any extra space in your budget, try putting yourself on a water-only protocol. It may give you the wiggle room you need.

As for us, we are doing well on $400/month and easily meeting our goals, so I don’t plan on decreasing these simple luxuries. It’s good to know that if disaster hits, however, we have some space for reducing costs without sacrificing nutrition.