Thursday 1 April 2021

"Vegetables aren't cheap"

Yesterday I totalled up how much we spent in March, and I tutted and sighed when I counted up how many times we really went to Tesco. In my fond imaginings, I thought we had gone only twice a week. However, it was more like three times a week, plus three forays into Waitrose. There was also a spontaneous trip to Lidl and a pop into Aldi. Also in my fond imaginings, we were spending only £40 a week on groceries.

Alas, alas!

"Vegetables aren't cheap," said B.A. in the slightly irritated voice of a man who thinks he is being blamed. 

I blame Berocca. No more Berocca, nasty expensive stuff. After Easter Sunday, I am putting the tubes at the back of the shelf to await October.  To be fair, cheese is also expensive, and as we had gone vegetarian for 5 days of the week, I did not stint. 

Finance blogs--especially FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) blogs--are great fun to read, and I always find the annual tally of the bravest and most transparent fascinating.  I am not so brave and transparent, so I'm showing you only food costs. For comparison and extra amusement, I will expose January and February, too. 

To keep North American readers from being shocked out of their minds, I should mention that the UK is one of the most expensive countries in Europe, and Edinburgh is the most expensive city in Scotland. Food just costs more here. 

For more fun, I have used a currency converter.  

January 2021

Groceries: £455.47  ($789.06 Canadian; $628.38 US )

Eating Out: £112.65 ($195.16 CAD;155.17 US)  

Total: £568.12

February 2021

Groceries £299.70 ($519.21 CAD; $412.82 US)

Eating Out: £45.15 ($78.22 CAD; $62.19 US)

Total: £344.85

March 2021

Groceries (including 3 month supply of Berocca)    £308.75 ($534.88 CAD; $425.85 US)

Eating Out: £25.30 ($43.83 CAD; $34.85 US)

Total: £334.05

Now I feel rather pleased, for we knocked over £223 off our food-and-toiletries costs just by paying attention--and, of course, observing Lent. 

At the same time I am rather appalled at how much food costs here. For example, that March £25.30/$43.83/$34.85 = 2 cappuccini & 2 French pastries; two Scottish pastries; and two ice-cream cones. How much is a top-quality ice-cream cone in Toronto?  

That said, we are talking top-quality ice-cream here. The French pastries were also top-quality--and beyond my skill set. The Scottish pastries were well within my skill set, however (see photo above), which is why there were so few of them in March. In short, the budget for our Sunday treat in Stockbridge went from £12 to £0 when we brought coffee in a thermos and homemade cake or pie in plastic tubs instead. 

Benedict Ambrose, being a contemporary Scot, is torn between love of eating out and love of saving money--and I must admit, I am too. I propose a compromise in which when we eat out we eat only those things that we could not have made at home just as well for a lot less money.  

FULL DISCLOSURE: This doesn't include my coffee subscription, which I will cancel when lockdown is over, saving us £2.95 a month. I have a weakness for good coffee. It is a thing. 

UPDATE: Thank you to whoever ordered something from Papier in my name. You have saved me 10% on my July to September wellness journal.  (I also have a weakness for good notebooks.)

STOP PRESS: Average food costs for two people in Toronto in 2020 were apparently $533.95 CA/month. Ah ha ha! (We spent $579.47 CA in March, which is not that far out.) Only $251.95 on Toronto groceries, though--but $282 on Toronto eating out & take out. Not that I'm judging. No. 

ANOTHER UPDATE: Our homeowner costs are a fraction of what the average Toronto homeowner pays. "O City, City!" 

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