Things that grind my gears: the cost of feeding a household

Something that constantly grinds my gears is the cost of food. And since British writer Peter Bills’ op-ed on the astronomical prices of, well, just about everything in NZ was published  (read his followup column here) everyone has been weighing in on the debate. Whether you wholeheartedly agree, or are simply resigned to the downside of living in a tiny country at the bottom of the globe, everyone has an opinion either way.

But it seems that of all people, All Black Justin Marshall apparently agrees, after a stint in the UK. It’s good to know he spends $400 to 500 to feed a family of five. $130 for us two sounds like we’re doing okay!

It’s hard for me to compare; most everyone I know still lives at home. Others spent similar amounts, or less – but living the two-minute noodle lifestyle. Sense (one of the few NZ bloggers I know who writes about personal finance) spends more…but she’ll eventually move back to the US and a wayyyyy lower cost of living, damn her.

But all the bitching and moaning in the world isn’t going to do any good. I like living in Auckland, and although I have big travel dreams, don’t see myself settling down anywhere else at this stage. Yes, it’s ridiculous that our lamb costs less in the UK than it does here. But I’m not a fan of lamb anyway. I don’t care how much a latte costs; I don’t drink coffee. And short of everyone in the country starting to grow their own food…I don’t see how prices are going to ever come down, even ignoring the impending GST rise.

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10 thoughts on “Things that grind my gears: the cost of feeding a household

  • Reply Amanda July 26, 2010 at 18:02

    I actually manage to feed myself at home for around $30 a week – it helps that I have very simple tastes in food, so I tend to get by on:

    1) Loaf of bread: $3
    2) Fruit and veg: $5 a week (my housemate’s a grocerer, I get everything practically at cost price – so my $5 a week is the equivalent of $35 worth of produce)
    4) 6 pack of yoghurt: $5
    5) Oats and milk (daily breakfast): $8
    6) Pasta and sauce: $5
    7) Condiments and such: $4

    I don’t meat and seafood when I’m at home as I hate to cook – I tend to eat that when I dine out, or eat at my parents. Once you add in dining out and so on, I tend to get up to about $50 a week. I could eat for much cheaper (e.g. JUST eat my discounted fruit and veg without buying everything else), but what I spend seems to work for me, while giving me varied-enough diet.

  • Reply Scribbles July 26, 2010 at 18:05

    We usually spend about $150 a week – we buy expensive meat, fruit and vege – for two. We also usually eat out once a week and will occasionally buy lunches. May be a similar comparison?

  • Reply Sense July 26, 2010 at 18:26

    Grrr, I totally agree about the cost of food. It is definitely the weak spot in my budget. I budget $400 for the month and go over quite regularly, however, I’m only up to $255 this month and don’t expect to buy much more this week! It is odd to be so happy about that…

  • Reply eemusings July 26, 2010 at 19:40

    @ Amanda Haha – I wouldn’t say I’m a big meat eater but I definitely did a double take looking at your grocery list! How much do you get for $4 in condiments! That would get you ONE single dressing/sauce here.

    @ Scribbles I used to do a weekly grocery breakdown last year, but eventually got sick of it. Our buying habits have changed a bit since then – we eat a bit healthier and upped our budget by $10 a week. Seriously, that helped SO much – $10 doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really made a difference (at least mentally, lol). I wouldn’t say we buy expensive meat, fruit or veg – ie we try to shop specials and buy in season – but it adds up to at least half of our total spend. Things like milk, sauces, oil, spices, cereal, canned veg, eggs etc make up the rest. We also tend to get a couple of snacky splurges a week, and we also include household and toiletry buys in this.

  • Reply Tasha July 26, 2010 at 21:13

    $400-500 a week for a family of 5?! Whoa! That makes me wonder how much it would cost us once our little kiddo grows up to school age. It’s such a challenge for me to budget $150/week for the 3 of us but it is working somehow. I sometimes think about grocery coupons, in that maybe if there were any out there they could save us a bit of money.

    Like you said, prices will never go anywhere but up. I’ve stopped fighting it and looked into our diets instead. I’ve just realized the joy of eating beef by cutting minute steaks into strips. We didn’t really need all that meat to begin with. We’ve also started going on gluten-free in support of my husband’s quest for health and I get horrified that a GF bread costs $7 something dollars!!!

  • Reply The Non-Student July 27, 2010 at 09:24

    I am beginning to change my mindset about food and cost–it’s what we put into our bodies. I used to forgo expensive healthy food for cheaper, less healthy options, and I feel like it’s just not worth it. I’d rather spend a little more and see it as a long-term investment in my health.

  • Reply Stephany July 27, 2010 at 11:03

    I’m in the process of figuring out how to cut down our grocery bill, because the amount my mom & I spend a week is a little disgusting. Eating healthy is more expensive than eating unhealthy, but I also think you can eat healthy and stay within your budget. Or so I will try! 🙂

  • Reply Benjamin Bankruptcy July 27, 2010 at 12:58

    Hmmm having been to both NZ and the UK in the last couple of years I can confirm that SOME food is cheaper in the uk. If your after dairy or grain based produce then it’s cheaper. Meat and fresh fruit and vegetables are cheaper in NZ. Take away food is also cheaper in the uk because the minimum wage is so much lower then NZ.

    I think it’s cheaper to eat healthier in the NZ then it is in the UK but if we’re just talking about $/calorie than the UK is definitely cheaper

  • Reply Amanda July 29, 2010 at 12:25

    @ee – As I don’t cook, I don’t tend to need that much in the way of condiments! 😛 Gets me butter and jam for toast (which lasts me for months), etc.

  • Reply eemusings July 29, 2010 at 12:59

    Ahhh, you means spreads!

    I abhor jam. Ate it every day for lunch when I first left home and was broke as hell.

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