How to work out financial equality in a relationship?

My boyfriend (of 2 years) and I live in the same house, although we rent separately and each have our own rooms. We've kept our finances relatively separate, each paying our own bills and the other major costs in our lives, however we tend to take turns buying the groceries.
We're both in our mid-late 20's, and while I have a great high-payed job he does odds and ends and works temporary contracts. It's not that he's lazy or untalented, but that there aren't many jobs going in this economy and I'm on a long term government contract.

Until recently we've been pretty equal with the amount of money coming in, and it's been no problem to take turns treating each other to the movies, buying a drink, paying for groceries... etc, all the little coupley stuff plus those household groceries. If one has payed more we just remember to try and equal it out next time. This has worked great for the last year or so (since we moved in together) and while letting us treat each other and live our lives like a couple, has kept us on even feet and let us each maintain some independence from each other.

We're both by nature pretty solitary people, so living 'in each others pockets' has been an experience in learning how to really be close to someone without overstepping and moving into clingy behavior :) Don't get me wrong, we're very much in love - we just both still too used to being on our own, and we're slowly learning to lean on each other.

So, the problem: until recently we've both had an equal amount of money, but works starting to dry up and Boyfriend has been eating into his savings little bit by little bit trying to keep paying for everything equally. I told him upfront that I could cover most of the stuff for now, and when he was in the money again he could pay more then to make up for it. He said it wasn't an issue and we should keep paying by turns... except now I've started to notice that he seems to be going out of his way to leave me with the bigger costs.
He's stopping by the shops on the way home and grabbing 'little' groceries (bread, milk, butter etc) and then leaving the 'big' shop till my turn (household cleaning stuff, expensive toiletries, meat [!], veg, snacks etc) , he's driving the car til it's running on fumes (we share the car) and leaving it for me to fill up, he's 'forgetting' who bought drinks or luxury things last and it always seems to end up being my turn... lots of little things that are starting to build up.

I wouldn't mind if he would talk to me about it rationally, and we'd do what I said before: me covering things til he has some money again and then evening it out. But he got really defensive when I brought it up, felt guilty afterward, admitted he was doing it and that he felt like a kid stealing every time he did it but he was so worried about his savings, and now he's gone back to blowing his savings trying to lavishly buy everything!!

I'd like advice on some way to work this out fairly, and how to talk to him about it. Whether he does extra chores around the house while I get groceries, or we go back to buying things separately, or I buy for awhile until he has money again... I don't really mind any option, but I don't really want it to just pass unnoticed. Thing is, I actually work less hours in a day (for a lot more money) than he does and I like household chores so I've usually got them done by the time he gets home late at night. And as it is, it's cheaper to share groceries instead of trying to stick strictly to entirely separate food.
I also don't want him to be in real trouble for money, and not help him out! I saw his bank statement by accident the other day when I was looking for mine, and what had previously been somewhere in the 10s of thousands is now down to hundreds. He's working really hard to bring in more, working a contract job and job hunting every spare moment... but jobs are firing, not hiring.
We've also been intending to try cheaper options (getting to the 7am farmer's market on the weekend would get us twice as much meat and veg for half the price) which I wouldn't mind if he bought each time so he had to pay less, but we never get up on time on the weekends and it's always a "we'll go next week" situation.

For now, we've been trying to find cheaper things to do (watching dvds we own instead of going out to the movies, having a picnic in the garden instead of eating lunch in cafes etc) so that it keeps the costs down for each of us. But the issue is really that he simply cant afford to go halves in groceries/petrol right now, and I want to figure out a way to continue sharing these... while keeping us on even footing, somehow! Advice?
By elsieneedshelp 8 years ago :: Dating
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