Food Spending During Covid

post by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2020-08-01T17:10:07.739Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW · 7 comments

Our house has shared groceries, and in my most recent reconcile I saw that our spending is up quite a bit relative to this time last year. In 2019, April through July, our monthly spending per person was $172, while in 2020 it was $303. In the big picture this is due to the pandemic, but I'm not sure which factors are responsible for most of the change. Some ideas:

It's very noisy, but here's a chart showing our historical food spending. It's a 90 day running average, so the recent rising slope is mostly the step-change of our newer more expensive situation being smeared over a longer period.

7 comments

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comment by Viliam · 2020-08-02T19:58:18.603Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
The house grocery budget won't count a restaurant meal, but it will count the food you eat at home because you didn't go out to eat.

I didn't run the numbers, but I believe that the total "house grocery budget + restaurant means" is much lower these days for me. Like, instead of eating alone in the restaurant for 5 €, I can cook for my entire family for 2-3 €. The total savings are not this dramatic, because only the cooked meals are cheaper; things like cheese and chocolate cost the same as before.

It is interesting when I look at costs of individual food items. Things that I eat in order to not be hungry, most of them are quite cheap (if I cook them at home). Things that I eat only because they taste good, they actually make most of the budget. Eating outside home means everything tastes very good, and everything is expensive.

Looking from the opposite perspective: if instead of going to restaurants you start to eat at home, you may or may not save lots of money, depending on how much you cook.

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2020-08-02T21:39:11.955Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In our case, some of our housemates were eating out reasonably often but our family wasn't. I think my wife and I ate at a restaurant we paid for maybe twice a year on average?

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2020-08-02T22:24:26.587Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not trying to count things like when my work brought my team out for a celebratory lunch, on the company card. since the not eating at restaurants is mostly about us trying to save money.

comment by adamzerner · 2020-08-01T19:25:16.242Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I made this spreadsheet to show the cost and nutrition content per 500 calories of different ingredients if anyone is interested. Eg. brown rice costs $0.29/500 calories and has 8.82 grams of protein per 500 calories.

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2020-08-02T01:35:38.969Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

People don't just need protein, we need some amount of overall protein and separately sufficient amounts of individual proteins. When people try to optimize for spending as little as possible on food, and get most of their protein from carbohydrates, it's common to have trouble getting enough lysine. If you do the numbers on lysine I think you're likely to find that adding some beans to your mix makes a lot of sense.

comment by remizidae · 2020-08-01T20:33:09.950Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I ran the numbers for my two-person household, I found that our pre-covid spending averaged $348 for groceries and $62 for gas. Post-covid, we’re at $387 for groceries and $23 for gas—coincidentially the same total! $300 per person just for groceries sounds really high. I don’t know if you’re interested in saving money, but if so there’s a lot of fat to cut there.

comment by jefftk (jkaufman) · 2020-08-02T01:39:46.312Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does your $387 ($194/person) include the costs of delivery?

Back of the envelope, I think the risk of getting covid via going into stores is high enough that delivery is worth it.