I won’t copy and paste it here so I don’t embarrass anyone involved, but on my personal Facebook wall today read a conversation between several acquaintances discussing grocery shopping for larger families.

One person was ecstatic because they came in under their $450 per week grocery budget by about $70. Yes, You heard it, $450 PER WEEK to feed a family with no special dietary requirements.

Granted, this was for a large family of what equates to 6 adult sized eaters plus 2 toddlers and $70 is a huge saving in anyone’s books, but HOLY COW BATMAN! What are you feeding those people that costs that much per week? Gold Plated Cornflakes?

I didn’t say that of course. I actually only read the conversation and didn’t join in at all – you can do that on the ol’ FB.(Yeah, I’m a total FB stalker and I’m okay with that).  I’m not being judgmental. I would hate for someone to tell me how I should shop or feed my family and wouldn’t dream of doing it to someone else.

But I’m always amazed and a little sad that anyone believes spending that much on food per week is normal in a country where fresh food is abundantly available and for the most part, not too unreasonably priced. And the person who posted was not the only one ,there were five or six others with larger families confessing to similar food budgets in the same conversation.

It makes me wonder:

A) If they actually know how to shop (the person who initiated the conversation cooks/bakes a lot so it’s not like they were not buying all convenience foods). Were they ever taught how to do it? I wasn’t and it was definitely one of my biggest challenges when I first left home. I mean, I had seen my mother and grandmother do the grocery shopping, I had even gone with them, but no one had ever actually sat me down and said “Righto kiddo, this is how you work out what you need, what to buy and how to budget for it”.

B) How much of that $450 each week ends up in the compost or worse still landfill?

C) How can I, quietly and without being “preachy” help them find ways to lower their weekly food bill? (I do feel from the tone of the post and the online conversation that followed like this person may have actually posted as a way of saying that they were frustrated and need a little help in this area).

So how can I help?

By example is the best way I know how. I feed a family of  four adult eaters and one grazing preschool aged child each week, plus a university student who sometimes eats at home and the odd extra body (including the eldest Scrap Boy on those occasions that he deems us worthy of his presence). We eat well, we eat healthy (well I think we do, none of us has any food related medical or weight problems), no one ever goes hungry (despite what the teenagers may claim, there’s always snacks) and we manage to keep it all under $150 a week (most weeks it scrapes in under to $100).

It’s not always easy, and it does require a little planning and preparation each week, but it is very doable. Even when we’re all really busy.

We recently completed a pantry, refrigerator and freezer stock take as part of a food waste survey conducted by an environmental organisation. It wasn’t part of the survey, but we also took stock of all our regular toiletries and household cleaning products, just to see how much we were saving (or not) by shopping ethically and making our own instead of using commercial products.Over the next month or so I will be keeping track of everything we use/buy/eat (including recipes). We began this originally for our own benefit, but in after reading the discussion today, over the next few weeks I may publish a few posts with our results here so I can show anyone that may be interested just how we do it.


4 comments on “You Spend What? On Groceries?!! Does feeding families REALLY have to cost that much?”

  1. I’d love to see your menu/groceries list!! I’m shopping for a family of 5 (2 adults, 1 teen, one preschooler and a wee baby) and I’ve managed to get the groceries down to around $190 a week. At the moment I’m mostly shopping for easy prep meals that I can whip together quickly while the baby’s so little (and seems to be in my arms all the time) such as frozen fish, pre-made lasagna (gross. I know) etc. I also have to top up on bread, milk and fresh fruit (we shop fortnightly) so it’s probably just over $200 p/w by the end if it.
    I’d absolutely love any tips on reducing our grocery expenses further!! ?

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