Food expenditure for one week: $65
Favorite foods: chili, soup, pork, eggs, spaghetti
Click for larger view.
Above is a weeks worth of food. Sort of. Some of the items like the flour, rice and spices are in too great a quantity but I didn’t see a good way to display them as recognizable things in the actual quantity we use in a week.
Presenting a weeks worth of food was an interesting challenge because we actually only go shopping about once every three months and buy a lot of things in bulk. There are some things we buy at a shopping trip, like one pound of fish which get eaten right away but are so small when figured weekly (1 lb / 10 weeks = 1/10th lb) that they don’t show on a table spread very well – I used a few shrimp to represent the fish. Another stumbling block is that what we eat is highly seasonal. In the winter we eat hot foods to warm us including a lot of soups, stews, chili and such that we canned in the fall and early winter, cabbage, meat, potatoes, hot cocoa, hot mint tea, etc. In the summer months we eat cooler meals including a lot of fresh veggies from our gardens, foraged berries, eggs, cold mint tea, etc. In the spring and fall it is also different.
This project was inspired by the Time Magazine article “What the World Eats” which was based on the book “Hungry Planet“. The article showed pictures from fifteen families in various countries around the world. Each picture show the family as well as all the foods they ate in a week and gave their weekly food budget.
The average weekly food expense was $180 with many of them falling in the $300 to $500 range. The variance in budgets was extradinary. That average is biased downward by two families that spend $5 and $1 per week – one of whom is in a refuge camp. Unfortunately the article did not correct for variations in local economies and buying power so the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. It would have been interesting to have a number showing how the spending relates as a percent of income. Also, prices for things vary greatly between countries as well as between urban and rural areas. Additionally, the families they chose may or may not really be representative – the other two USA families [1, 2] eat very differently from each other and very differently than our family. Diversity is beautiful.
Still, it was a great photo essay and not meant as a scientific study. Our family had fun studying the photos in Time as well as making our own list and photo.
Our weekly food budget is $65 for a family of five. That comes to $1.85 per person per day or 62¢ per meal per person per day – there is some variation with a summer low of about $50/wk and a late winter and early spring high of about $80/wk as we get low on foods we’ve grown. The budget includes seed we buy to grow much of our veggies. Almost all of our meat, a big expense, as well as our eggs come from animals we raise ourselves at almost no cost since we pasture raise them. I included an allotment in our budget for winter hay for the animals. Prior to raising our own animals we ate very little meat due to the cost and health concerns with factory raised meats. We also forage for berries much of the summer, canning and freezing them for the rest of the year. Dairy is our single largest expense as we drink a lot of milk, eat quite a bit of cheese and use butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc. Gotta get a cow – or goats!
One of the things that struck me from the photos was not how different the foods were but how similar they were from country to country. Looking through the photos in the article we noticed that it seemed most of the families were living in urban areas so that in and of itself may account for some of the uniformity of foods. I was also surprised at how many people bought water. The family from the Time article that was the closest to our family was the Batsuuri family of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Ironically their budget also came close to ours at $40/week.
Since it is rather hard to see from a photo what is there, even when clicking on the image above to the larger version, I have made a list of everything:
|Milk||4 gallons||Gotta get a cow!|
|Yogurt||1 quart||More in summer|
|Sour Cream||4 oz|
|Cream Cheese||4 oz|
|Cottage Cheese||1 lb|
|Cheese||2 lbs||Cheddar, Blue, Swiss, Goat, Mozzarella, etc|
|Eggs||48||Less in winter when hens don’t lay less|
|Cereal||1 lb||Hot in winter, cold in summer|
|Egg Noodles||2 lbs|
|Graham Crackers||1/8 lb||Bonfire cookout smores!|
|Barley||3 cups||Lamb or mutton soup|
|Beans||4 cups||Fresh in season, Dry in winter in chili or soup|
|Peas Dried||2 cups||In soups|
|Bacon/Sausage||2 lbs||Breakfast with eggs|
|Ground Pork||2 lbs||Sausage, chili, stew, etc|
|Pork Cuts||5 lbs||Ham, Loin, Ribs, etc|
|Chicken/Duck||1 lb||Generally soup or stewed|
|Lamb||1 lb||Leg, rack, loin, soup or stew|
|Bones||3 lb||Soup and broth|
|Pepperoni||1/10 lb||Mostly as topping on pizza|
|Shrimp/Squid/Fish||1/10 lb||Few times a year|
|Berries||2 quarts||Seasonal types, canned, jammed, jellied, sauced or frozen in winter|
|Melon||1||Seasonal type and availability|
|Raisins||1/2 lb||On salad, cereal or yogurt mostly|
|Canned Fruit||1/4 lb||Winter replacement|
|Basil||1 cup||Mostly as fresh spice or pesto|
|Cabbage||1 head||Winter salad greens, sauerkraut, slaw|
|Beets||3||Fresh in summer, canned or soup in winter|
|Tomatoes||8||Fresh in season and from store or canned|
|Peas||2 cups||Seasonal fresh, canned in soup or frozen|
|Corn||2 cups||Seasonal fresh, canned in soup or frozen, corn bread|
|Squash||2 cups||Seasonal – Zucchini, Summer, Pumpkin, Winter, Acorn, Butternut|
|Mushrooms||1/4 cup||canned from store|
|Potatoes||20||Soup, Fried, Mashed, Refried, Stew, Thickener|
|Garlic||18 cloves||Vampires beware|
|Olive Oil||2 quarts|
|Black Pepper Corns|
|Chili Pepper Sauce|
|Strawberry Sauce||1 cup|
|Strawberry Jam||1 cup|
|Peanut Butter||1 cup|
|Sunflower Seeds||1/4 cup|
|Maple Syrup||1 cup|
|Sugar||4 cups||Baking and cooking|
|Molasses||Baking and cooking|
|Wheat Flour||10 lbs||Baking and cooking|
|Corn Flour||5 lbs||Baking and cooking|
|Other Flour||2 lbs||Baking and cooking|
|Chili||3 quarts||Canned in fall and winter mostly|
|Soup||6 quarts||Canned in fall and winter mostly|
|Taco Corn Chips||8 oz|
|Black Tea||8 cups||Hot in winter or cold summer mornings|
|Mint Tea||3 gallons||2.5 oz dry leaves. Hot in winter, cold in summer|
|Lemon Aid||2 gallons||(Lemon Juice) Hot in winter, cold in summer|
|Cocoa Powder||8 oz||Winter Hot Chocolate|
|Coffee Powder||2 oz||Winter Hot Chocolate|
|Juice||1/2 gallon||Mostly summer|
|Candy Bar||4 oz|
|Chocolate Chips||1 oz|
|Ice Cream||1/4 gallon|
|Smoked Oysters||1/4 tin|
If you missed it see the “Kitchenwares for a Week” post which I had done just before the Time article came out. That was part of why I found their article so fascinating. If you haven’t seen the Time article do go check it out and possibly the book as well. A great homeschool session for all ages.
So, what is one week of food for your family?
Outdoors: 70°F/54°F Overcast, 5″ Rain, Thunder Storms
Farm House: 71°F/68°F
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/68°F bathroom planning