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Food Costs on a Scale

December 4th, 2011
money, poverty

After someone today claimed to be spending an incredibly low amount on food [1] I decided I wanted to have a better sense of what different food budgets looked like. Some reference points:

J+J 2010 In 2010 Julia and were living in our own apartment. We spent frugally, but still ate pretty well. We didn't try to deny ourselves things. Julia did most of the cooking. We both brought lunches to work. Not paying more to eat organic or local. Total $1,888.28 for two people for the year.

J+J+H+C Since March we've been living with two housemates in a different apartment. We eat similarly to before, though Julia is doing less of the cooking. Total $2575.93 for four people for nine months.

Beacon Hill The Beacon Hill Friends House advertised $302/month for food in a 2011-10-03 post to the BCN mailing list.

Seedpod The Seedpod Housing Cooperative advertised $145/month for "shared food and household supplies" in a 2011-11-14 BCN post.

Millstone The Millstone Co-op advertises $125/month for food.

Swarthmore The Swarthmore College meal plan is $2900 for (I believe) 29 weeks.

Bryn Mawr The Bryn Mawr College meal plan. They don't have a price posted for the 20 meal/week plan, but 175 meals is $6.85/meal. Weekly this comes to $137.

Rice+Beans To get 2000 daily calories and 50 daily grams of protein from rice and beans it costs $0.61 for the beans and $0.76 for the rice (notes) for a total of $1.37/day. This is here as a lower bound.

Update 2011-12-05: Added more. The ones in quotes were contributed in the comments.

Alex Current "This semester (Sep-Nov) my food average per month has been $168.06, sharing food and costs with three other people. We've also held several parties, and those food purchases are counted in that as well. We buy our food from a mixture of Shaw's, Harvest, and Market Basket, buying the cheapest organic or local food we can."

Alex+Nicole " Last semester (Jan-Apr), when Nicole was sharing food costs with me much of the time, my average monthly food cost was $137.41."

Alex Alone "The previous semester (Sep-Nov), when I was paying for and making food for myself, and shopping primarily at Harvest, my monthly food cost was $219.98."

Ben's Mom "My mom's co-op is $140/month. We buy a lot of organic and shop mostly at Trader Joe's."

Harvard "Harvard's board is $2500 for about 4 months, or about $650/month."

Food Stamps (Single) and Food Stamps (Group) In Massachusetts food stamps give you $200/month if you're by yourself, scaling down to $150/month by the time you get to eight people in a household.

LabelCost
DailyMonthlyYearly
Rice+Beans1.3741.67500.05
J+J+H+C2.3571.55858.64
J+J 20102.5878.68944.14
Millstone4.10125.001500.00
Alex+Nicole4.52137.411648.92
Ben's Mom4.60140.001680.00
Seedpod4.76145.001740.00
Food Stamps (Group)4.93150.001800.00
Alex Current5.53168.062016.72
Food Stamps (Single)6.57200.002400.00
Alex Alone7.23219.982639.76
Beacon Hill9.92302.003624.00
Swarthmore14.25433.335200.00
Bryn Mawr19.52593.677124.00
Harvard21.37650.007800.00

[1] It turned out they were doing a lot of dumpster diving.

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