DaveInsurgent wrote:We tend to eat instant potatoes a lot, and Idahoan are way better than No-Name. Sure there's an element of preference to everything... we buy 90% brand name items, perhaps 95%, and our family of 4 spends $800 a month on groceries. I think that is pretty reasonable. We buy things on sale, and I always check the $/item ratio. You have to watch out for cheap no-name products selling you 0.8 units for a small price difference. Yes, you're saving 15 cents, but you're getting 20% less product. If you just bought the 250 foot roll (or 500, or whatever), or the 48-pack of Eggos, etc... you'd save a lot more.
I'm not going to lie, I'm baffled at how you spend $200 a month on groceries per person. I'm guessing nobody in your family cooks? The suggestion of Eggos as being something you'd buy would seem to indicate that. Home-made whole-wheat waffles with fruit inside and real maple syrup, or go home. I couldn't imagine spending more than $100 a month, and I cook big meals for every meal of the day. Actually, it probably has to do with being a vegetarian. I forget how expensive meat is ($1 for a quarter pound of minced beef? That's highway robbery @_@).
I don't know why people would buy food that tastes worse and costs 4 times as much as it would simply cooking the same thing yourself. But then again, I'm kind of a foodie, so I guess my opinion can be taken with a grain of salt by a non-foodie.
Also any person looking at the price and not the price per unit is a fool. I've caught generics occasionally being more expensive per unit than the name-brands. Of course, for every time I've caught that, I've also seen a dozen generics being only 60% the price of a name-brand per unit.
So you make points both about cost and about quality of food.. I'm going to address cost:
$100 per month is $1200 a year or $3.28 per day.
-- Breakfast --
1 1/2 cups of cereal: $0.40
Orange Juice: $0.25
-- Lunch --
Bread for a sandwich at lunch: $0.30
PB+J on sammich: $0.10
That's $2.05 or $1.23 left for supper and snacks. The kids drink a lot more milk than that, and seem to never stop eating cereal.
So let's take $1 from that for supper - leaving the 23 cents for a snack. Combined, that is $4 for the family to eat on. Can you provide some sample meals
We eat chicken once a week - that's $10 just for the meat.
We eat tenderloin once a week - that's $8 of it's on sale, $16 if not. I stock up when on sale.
We have a take-out night on Friday, which is around $40. The thing is, that in that situation, it's over your budget by $36. Amortize that over the week, and that's another $6 for each other day. Or, you know, $182.50 a month. Add the chicken ($43 a month over - maybe a bit less depending on what is served with it).. I'm already, roughly, at $625 and we still have the tenderloin (so let's round to $650) and then that leaves 4 nights still unaccounted for.
Your other argument is about quality of food: you take the time to prepare things, that's great. But that's added cost. Putting an extra half hour a day of my time in to preparation would be a monthly expense of $608 of my time.
Not perfect math, but I don't see how you're so surprised. I don't have a lot of labels to throw around, but I guess "middle-class" comes to mind. I think we have a balance between prepared meals and free time.