Ever wonder how much (or little) you could/should spend on food per week? I've heard of a lot of people chasing the elusive $50/week mar...

Food Cost Breakdown

Ever wonder how much (or little) you could/should spend on food per week? I've heard of a lot of people chasing the elusive $50/week marker, but I knew that eating organic and fueling my training wasn't going to allow for that.

Every time I came up with a meal plan that seemed to have enough calories, I was ending up with $60/week for just my food.

So I decided to do some math.

I opened up a spreadsheet and got to work. Follow along and you can do the same. In the first column, list the foods you eat on a regular basis.

In the second column, list the serving unit you'd like to use. I recommend weight units where possible (i.e. pounds, ounces). In the third column, list the price per serving. This information can be found on your receipts or approximate values online. In the fourth column, the calories per serving (this info can be found online or on food packaging).

You will also need to know how many calories you consume in a week. Dan and I consume between 35000 and 40000 calories per week, or around 5500 calories a day, between the two of us.

[Some useful info: there are 16 ounces in a pound, and 28 grams in an ounce.]

Ok, so that's the hard part--the input. Next comes the cool part.

I re-organized by $/calorie; this is definitely not
a complete list of everything we eat.
In your spreadsheet, divide column three ($/serving) by column four (calories/serving) to get cost per calorie ($/calorie) in column five. In column six, multiply column five by your calories per week to get the cost per week if you were to eat only that food ($/week) to achieve your calorie intake.

Obviously, it's not a good idea to eat only one food, but this measure is what you're looking for--how much food should cost you per week.

For example, the cheapest food (per calorie) on our list was peanut butter. If we tried to meet our calorie intake using only peanut butter, we could spend around $38/week on groceries. On the other hand, if we only ate radishes, we'd be spending more like $4300/week on groceries.

I don't have a great system for determining total grocery expenditure--it's ultimately a weighted average of the values in the right. But it did give me a good sense of the minimum. Based on this information, I'm guessing that we'll be closer to 85 or 90 dollars per week.

This makes a lot of sense. We're eating about 3 people's worth of food, mostly organic. And we're not trying to spend any less than we are--we are choosing quality food for a reason.

However, if money got tight, we could easily switch to non-organics outside of the dirty dozen, and rely on more grains, beans and fruits for calories, supplementing with primarily sale, frozen vegetables. Not surprisingly, carrots and potatoes also do well on the price per calorie scale.

Try playing around with this! Let me know what you find out.

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