Sunday, February 22, 2009

Food Expenses

Lawanda has a paragraph towards the bottom of her blog highlighting a Time Magazine photo article on "What the World Eats". (Thanks for sharing, Lawanda!)The pictures are taken from the book, "Hungry Planet." I'd seen something similar to this before, but decided it might be enlightening to do a bit of number crunching. Here is what I discovered:

Country Family
Size
Weekly
Expenditure
Weekly
cost/person
Cost/
person/
meal
Chad 6 $ 1.23 $ 0.21 $ 0.01
Bhutan 12 $ 5.03 $ 0.42 $ 0.02
Ecuador 9 $ 31.55 $ 3.51 $ 0.17
Egypt 12 $ 68.23 $ 5.69 $ 0.27
Mongolia 4 $ 40.02 $ 10.01 $ 0.48
Our Family 6 $ 75.00 $ 12.50 $ 0.60
Kuwait 8 $ 221.45 $ 27.68 $ 1.32
Poland 5 $ 151.27 $ 30.25 $ 1.44
Mexico 5 $ 189.09 $ 37.82 $ 1.80
China 4 $ 155.06 $ 38.77 $ 1.85
United States 4 $ 159.18 $ 39.80 $ 1.90
Italy 5 $ 260.11 $ 52.02 $ 2.48
Great Britain 4 $ 253.15 $ 63.29 $ 3.01
Japan 4 $ 317.25 $ 79.31 $ 3.78
United States 4 $ 341.98 $ 85.50 $ 4.07
Germany 4 $ 507.00 $ 126.75 $ 6.04

I thought the breakdown was very interesting. There are several things to keep in mind, some of which are:

1) Prices vary by region,

2) Each family depicted may or may not accurately represent their region (you can see this by doing a quick comparison of your family with your country),

3) Some governments subsidize food, offer free food, etc. (We even see food subsidizing in the U.S. even though we still spend a good deal more on food than other countries that do this. Ironically, most of the food that is subsidized in the U.S. is food that is used in processed foods which is why it is often cheaper to buy them than it is to buy "real" food.)

I think it is interesting that the larger families spend less money on food. I wonder if that would hold true within each of the "developed" countries.

When looking at the pictures and the cost breakdown simultaneously, I can see that our family, has room to grow. We fell in between Mongolia and Kuwait at $75 per week for a family of 6...just $12.50 a week per person and $0.60 for each meal. It doesn't break down quite like that for our meals or our food as much of our grocery budget is dedicated to diapers, paper products (including toilet paper, paper towels, etc.), and toiletries which the TIME photos didn't seem to include. Maybe our family is doing ever better (I think spending less would be better ;), but when I see the differences in food, I still see much room for improvement.

How about you? Do you see room for changes in what you eat? Do you set goals for growth in this area? How has your family cut costs in this area?

1 comment:

Lawanda said...

We have had our ups and downs over the years, but I think we improve every year :)

It seems to me like we (in the US mainly) pay for the cost of packaging and processing, more than the actual food.

I kept that on my blog because it makes me think!! :)