What the world eats: a family by family comparison

What the world eats: a family by family comparison

My uncle sent me this link to a Time magazine photo essay, “What the World Eats.” In a series of 16 photographs, they show families from around the world of varying sizes, what that family consumes in a typical week, and how much they spend.

The essay was timely because Melanie and I were reviewing our financial budget and discussing how much we spend on groceries and whether we might be able to cut back. Frankly what we spend sounded high and we’re going to see if we can cut it back some.

On the other hand, apart from the families in the Third World nations, we’re spending less per person than almost every family in the developed nations. The German family spends about $2,000 per month for food for two adults and two teens!

Check out the American families (two are included): I suppose they’re fairly representative, but see how much of their food is pre-packaged and how little fruits and vegetables they eat. I just wish Time had included a list of the food because I would have found it fascinating.

Anyway, maybe Melanie and I aren’t doing so bad after all since we buy few pre-packaged foods; we eat more fruits, veggies and grains than meat; and we make as much as we can from scratch. Still, I’m sure we could cut back even more if we need to. We’ll see.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • That was an interesting photo essay.  In order to get our food spending in line with our budget we had to switch to a cash envelope system.  I am worried about running out of money at the end of the month, so I am much more careful on a week-to-week basis.  It’s been a switch from “what do I feel like eating today?” to “What’s on sale this week and how can I build on that?”

    My husband is in charge of the “alcohol budget” envelope, which I insisted be separate from the food.  He had to switch to cheaper beer, and we drink much less wine than before.

    All in all, it’s not been that hard and we haven’t gone hungry or thirsty.  It just takes more time and planning.

  • I think you also have to consider that over all, food costs less in the US than in some European countries.

    When we had friends over from the UK, they did marvel right off the plane at the number of very fat people in the US. But by the time they left three weeks later, they had each gained a number of pounds (and not the kind ya spend!)  They ate much more than they usually would because the food over here was 1) tastier 2) cheaper 3) was served in greater portions with more selection available in restaurants. In grocery stores, the sheer number of brands and types of crisps (chips) was almost overwhelming.

    They are coming back in the spring….and hoping to sample much, much more of our wonderously tasty beef and drink as much fresh ground coffee as possible (because they drink mostly instant there – ugh- and their biggest grocery has only a few types of bean coffee)