How much does it cost to feed your family?

cost to feed your family

I came across an interesting blog yesterday. In it Hayley asks if everyone else is spending a fortune feeding their families, and she described her monthly shopping. It sounded almost exactly like my shopping, and I’ve been wondering the same thing – Dean and I live a comfortable life, but I keep finding that our money is getting tighter and tighter and the majority of our spending seems to go towards food. I’ve been paying closer attention because of an article I’m going to write as part of Harassed Mom‘s series called “What we ate this week” (I promise I will answer your questions soon, Laura!). We really spend a lot just to eat these days.

Part of it is, yes, takeaways or going out to eat. But surprisingly, that’s not as big a thing as I imagined. We might go without cooking once or twice in the week, but for the most part we cook our food. Plus, I like to think that I’m pretty smart with how we shop. I tend to buy our meat once, or maybe twice in the month online from a fantastic butcher who delivers. Their prices are really reasonable and the quality of the meat is great. Plus, I order all the things in 500 gram or 1kg portions, so it’s already nicely divided – just throw it in my deep freezer and pull out what I need, as and when I need it; just the right amount for dinner at night and my breakfast and lunch of leftovers. The rest of our food usually comes from the two local stores – PicknPay and Woolies.

I shop the outside of the store at Woolies, picking up all our fresh produce, milk and lunch meats. At PicknPay, I buy pantry goods, bakery stuff and drinks. I tend to follow a relatively European way of shopping, hitting the store a couple of times a week to pick up odds and ends. I take advantage of specials, and particularly love Woolworth’s “eat in for four under R150” deals, although I wonder who they are building their portion sizes on – that four person lasagne is not going satisfy four people! Then again, if a family lived solely on those “good value” meals every night they’d still end up spending R4.5k per month just on dinners…

I remember when Dean and I first moved into this place, we didn’t have much money. We had to be careful with how much we spent on food, cleaning supplies, etc. In those days, I budgeted R2-3k for all groceries, including products to clean ourselves and our home. Now, we spend twice that.

While I realize that the Rand has depreciated, that times have changed, that I’m also buying nicer quality food, it’s absolutely mind boggling for me. Is our food bill so high because every dinner includes meat and veg, without fail? Did we eat more pasta previously, or less fruit? Is healthy eating to blame, or am I shopping in the wrong places? I try to shop around, to buy certain things in certain stores because of the prices and quality, but it seems that no matter how much I try to save money, I end up coming out at the same amount each month.

It’s actually a hell of a lot of money just to spend on groceries. No wonder once we add in going out to eat, meeting up with people for drinks and going to braais or parties we end up spending even more on things that we consume. Is this normal?! Is this just what it costs to feed a family now? And I struggle to even call this feeding a family – Harley might be starting solids, but that usually amounts to a bite of my meat and veg each night – it’s not like she’s costing anything to feed.

Please tell me, how do you save money when you do your grocery shopping? Or does it simply cost thousands of Rands to feed even a family of two (and a bit)?


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