One Week’s Food
I came across this photo essay on the time.com website a while back. It shows a picture of a family and the food they eat in a week, along with the price and a few of their favorite foods. You can find the link here. It’s well worth a look.
A few things surprised me when I looked at this. I actually read through it a few times.
Is this how much people typically spend on food? I’ll have to admit that for a very long time I never paid attention to the food bills. I just bought what I wanted at the grocery store, usually going without a list, and then paid at the end and never tracked what I spent. As Melissa and I chose to live fully aware of our spending, we started tracking our food bills very closely. On an average week, we live on about $75 worth of food. When the month is tight, we can pull that weekly total down to $50 (and have managed to get it down to less than $40 when we had to). Some families (granted, there is going to be some difference based on currency exchange) spent nearly $500!
The American family from North Carolina had virtually no fresh food. I see some meat up front, a few tomatoes, and some grapes. The rest of it was processed food and fast food. Their expenditure for a family of 4 was nearly $350! In the US, to eat cheaply is seems that you have to buy processed food (you know, the kind that’s always on sale and has really good coupons). In our case, our most expensive weeks are when we have the most fresh food. There are never coupons for the fresh food. One thing I did notice was that there was a lot of fast food and that isn’t cheap. Their food bill is $1400 a month!
Another thing I noticed was that in many of the photos the families had large amounts of soda. Soda is an expense that is completely unnecessary in my book and it holds zero nutritional value. I wish I could convince Melissa of this but she just won’t give up her soda.
Some of the poorest locations had the most fresh food. The people from Chad had nearly nothing. The people from Ecuador had almost exclusively fresh food. The most healthy way to eat, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, was enjoyed more by the poorest countries, and less by the wealthiest. Why is that?
The discrepancy in costs was also amazing. The people in Germany spent $500 a week on food, while the people in Chad spent $1.23! That’s an enormous difference. I know there are reasons for the differences, but it still shocked me. Honestly, if I were spending $500 a week on food, I don’t think we’d be able to afford it! That’s $2000 a month (roughly). That’s double the house payment!
I also found it fascinating to see what people in different countries eat. I had no idea that frozen pizza was so popular around the world. Or that people drank quite so much soda. Just seeing the volume differences was interesting too.
Overall I just found the photos amazing and really appreciate that Time did this photo essay. Once we move I think I might try to put together a photo of what our family eats in a week and the total amount of money spent. I think that would be pretty interesting.