Food cost comparisons
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27-07-2013, 03:20 PM
Food cost comparisons
On the ranting thread, there was some discussion of the cost of eating healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods.

I thought about it a bit, and I'm sure there are various ways of defining these.
So, without any particular research, I present some eating/shopping categories.
  • Unhealthy diet: Fast food - too much sodium, fat, and calories; relatively expensive.
  • Convenience/prepared foods: Too much sodium, fat, additives - somewhat less expensive.
  • Cheap foods (mac 'n cheese, Ramen): Too much sodium, fat, additives - less expensive.
  • Basic foods/ingredients: control over sodium, fat, calories, additives - relatively inexpensive.
  • Natural/organic: control over sodium, fat, calories, additives - relatively expensive.
  • Gourmet: more sodium, fat, calories - very expensive.

My experience is that one can eat a good diet relatively inexpensively.

Thoughts?

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27-07-2013, 03:30 PM
RE: Food cost comparisons
I think when people are talking about the cost, they are usually simplifying it a bit more, for example:

Fresh foods: produce, fresh dairy, fresh meats; very perishable, more expensive
Processed foods: stuff with long shelf life, usually cheaper, usually less nutritious, usually more sodium, etc.

Point being that a pack of hot dogs is much cheaper than a good steak, or that a twinkie is cheaper than a bag of fresh peaches. And soda is cheaper than a gallon of orange juice.
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27-07-2013, 03:32 PM
RE: Food cost comparisons
Sounds about right. In Denmark the two first catagories would be more or less the same moneywise I think.

What is relatively inexpensive for you? Buying (what I would consider) healthy/normal food for 3 meals a day I think I could keep a budget of 350 dollars a month if I really tried. This is for one person.

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27-07-2013, 03:44 PM
RE: Food cost comparisons
I mean, I'm thinking back to when I got an apartment in college and I had about $2/day food budget. I survived, but I sure as hell didn't eat well until I got a different job and had more money. Would it have been possible to? Maybe, if I budgeted really well and spent a lot of time thinking about calories, nutrition, buying items that would last for days, etc.

As I understand it, if we're talking about food stamps, I think they get about $6.50/day per person, $200/month around here (per person). Can you survive on that? Yes, but no matter what people say, I can't imagine that they're eating steak and lobster for breakfast. And if you want people to buy healthier, you would at least need to educate people on those matters, because the average person is going to go in the store, and say "fuck this $4.50 gallon of orange juice, I'm buying a $1 bottle of Faygo" because they want more stuff to feed their family with and I really doubt they're thinking much about how much vitamin C anyone is getting. That's why stuff like WIC exists, they force people in the program to get specific brands/types of specific food for nutritional reasons. On the one hand, that might help, but on the other, it's like saying someone can never have something tasty or a candybar just because they're poor, or their kids can't have a cake because they're poor, or whatever. Kinda like how people see someone with nice shoes who's fallen on hard times and judge them, saying they shouldn't be on food stamps because they have nice shoes. News flash: not everyone on food stamps is on them because they're lazy, sometimes it's because they have lost a job, got a divorce and lost everything, or have otherwise fallen on hard times temporarily. But people judge them if they don't look poor enough, if they think they're too fat, if they think they're lazy.
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27-07-2013, 03:45 PM
RE: Food cost comparisons
With a sample size of one...

When we worked out that casein (i.e. dairy) and gluten (i.e. bread, pasta etc.) and additives, colourants and preservatives we causing behavioural issues for our autistic children, we had to get much food unprocessed i.e. directly from the farm.

Even something like slices of ham had added stuff.

A frozen chicken from the supermarket could be £3.99 (ish) but £12.00 from our nearest farm.

Ouch!

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27-07-2013, 03:49 PM (This post was last modified: 27-07-2013 04:01 PM by Chas.)
RE: Food cost comparisons
(27-07-2013 03:30 PM)amyb Wrote:  I think when people are talking about the cost, they are usually simplifying it a bit more, for example:

Fresh foods: produce, fresh dairy, fresh meats; very perishable, more expensive
Processed foods: stuff with long shelf life, usually cheaper, usually less nutritious, usually more sodium, etc.

Point being that a pack of hot dogs is much cheaper than a good steak, or that a twinkie is cheaper than a bag of fresh peaches. And soda is cheaper than a gallon of orange juice.

From this week's grocery ads (prices are $US):
Hot dogs: 2.49 - 3.49 / lb.
Chicken: 1.99 / lb.
Pork: 2.49 / lb.
Hamburger: 2.99 - 3.99 / lb.
London broil: 1.99 / lb. (special)

O.J.: 2.99 / 64 oz.
Pepsi: 1.30 / 67 oz. (2 liter)
Coke: 4.00 / gal. (cans)

Yogurt: 0.50 / 6 oz.
Bread: 2.50 / loaf

Potatoes, seasonal veggies, rice are all inexpensive.

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27-07-2013, 03:56 PM
RE: Food cost comparisons
(27-07-2013 03:44 PM)amyb Wrote:  I mean, I'm thinking back to when I got an apartment in college and I had about $2/day food budget. I survived, but I sure as hell didn't eat well until I got a different job and had more money. Would it have been possible to? Maybe, if I budgeted really well and spent a lot of time thinking about calories, nutrition, buying items that would last for days, etc.

As I understand it, if we're talking about food stamps, I think they get about $6.50/day per person, $200/month around here (per person). Can you survive on that? Yes, but no matter what people say, I can't imagine that they're eating steak and lobster for breakfast. And if you want people to buy healthier, you would at least need to educate people on those matters, because the average person is going to go in the store, and say "fuck this $4.50 gallon of orange juice, I'm buying a $1 bottle of Faygo" because they want more stuff to feed their family with and I really doubt they're thinking much about how much vitamin C anyone is getting. That's why stuff like WIC exists, they force people in the program to get specific brands/types of specific food for nutritional reasons. On the one hand, that might help, but on the other, it's like saying someone can never have something tasty or a candybar just because they're poor, or their kids can't have a cake because they're poor, or whatever. Kinda like how people see someone with nice shoes who's fallen on hard times and judge them, saying they shouldn't be on food stamps because they have nice shoes. News flash: not everyone on food stamps is on them because they're lazy, sometimes it's because they have lost a job, got a divorce and lost everything, or have otherwise fallen on hard times temporarily. But people judge them if they don't look poor enough, if they think they're too fat, if they think they're lazy.

I'm not trying to be Mr. Health, here. I am saying that with only a little effort and attention, one can eat reasonably well more cheaply than a lot of the unhealthy things I see loaded into shopping carts.

There is the meal preparation time to consider. I understand that convenience foods are convenient.

I don't have to imagine how much work a single parent faces with this stuff. My mother was a single parent to 4 of us. She made us dinner most every night after working all day.

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27-07-2013, 03:58 PM
RE: Food cost comparisons
(27-07-2013 03:49 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(27-07-2013 03:30 PM)amyb Wrote:  I think when people are talking about the cost, they are usually simplifying it a bit more, for example:

Fresh foods: produce, fresh dairy, fresh meats; very perishable, more expensive
Processed foods: stuff with long shelf life, usually cheaper, usually less nutritious, usually more sodium, etc.

Point being that a pack of hot dogs is much cheaper than a good steak, or that a twinkie is cheaper than a bag of fresh peaches. And soda is cheaper than a gallon of orange juice.

From this week's grocery ads:
Hot dogs: 2.49 - 3.49 / lb.
Chicken: 1.99 / lb.
Pork: 2.49 / lb.
Hamburger: 2.99 - 3.99 / lb.
London broil: 1.99 / lb. (special)

O.J.: 2.99 / 64 oz.
Pepsi: 1.30 / 67 oz. (2 liter)
Coke: 4.00 / gal. (cans)

Yogurt: 0.50 / 6 oz.
Bread: 2.50 / loaf

Potatoes, seasonal veggies, rice are all inexpensive.

Are these organic meats?
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27-07-2013, 03:59 PM (This post was last modified: 27-07-2013 04:04 PM by Chas.)
RE: Food cost comparisons
(27-07-2013 03:58 PM)LadyJane Wrote:  
(27-07-2013 03:49 PM)Chas Wrote:  From this week's grocery ads:
Hot dogs: 2.49 - 3.49 / lb.
Chicken: 1.99 / lb.
Pork: 2.49 / lb.
Hamburger: 2.99 - 3.99 / lb.
London broil: 1.99 / lb. (special)

O.J.: 2.99 / 64 oz.
Pepsi: 1.30 / 67 oz. (2 liter)
Coke: 4.00 / gal. (cans)

Yogurt: 0.50 / 6 oz.
Bread: 2.50 / loaf

Potatoes, seasonal veggies, rice are all inexpensive.

Are these organic meats?

Not advertised as such, no.

Organic:
Hamburger: 5.49 / lb.
Sirloin tip: 8.49 / lb.

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27-07-2013, 04:07 PM (This post was last modified: 27-07-2013 04:11 PM by amyb.)
RE: Food cost comparisons
(27-07-2013 03:49 PM)Chas Wrote:  From this week's grocery ads (prices are $US):
Hot dogs: 2.49 - 3.49 / lb.
Chicken: 1.99 / lb.
Pork: 2.49 / lb.
Hamburger: 2.99 - 3.99 / lb.
London broil: 1.99 / lb. (special)

O.J.: 2.99 / 64 oz.
Pepsi: 1.30 / 67 oz. (2 liter)
Coke: 4.00 / gal. (cans)

Yogurt: 0.50 / 6 oz.
Bread: 2.50 / loaf

Potatoes, seasonal veggies, rice are all inexpensive.
Depends where you shop. I was just at Aldi, and hot dogs were 89 cents there. So yes, I'd consider that cheaper than chicken (and cheaper chicken is usually with bones included, so you aren't really getting as much meat as the more expensive, boneless chicken breasts, etc).

As for per the pound, that may not be how people shop. They might see a $5.99 bag of frozen chicken, or a 99 cent packet of 8 hot dogs, and get the hot dogs because they at $5 cheaper. Same with soda. They don't buy it by the gallon. If it's $3 for a 64 ouncer of OJ, and generic soda is $0.89 for a 2liter, they may well go for the 89 cents one. I think the problem is you're assuming people are doing the math and figuring out what is cheapest per ounce, per lb, etc and I don't think they are. I think they are going by what will give them a smaller number at the cash register, not what will give them the best value per dollar.

Potatoes and rice aren't expensive, but I don't think they have much nutrition in them, either.

ETA: If you really expect people to make the best nutritional and cost decisions, you're gonna have to educate them about it. I don't think you can just expect the average person to do so.
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