Monday, September 26, 2011

Breaking down the cost of food per person

As "I" will be soon becoming a "we", I am trying to trying estimate a reasonable financial plan for the next stages of our life. Obviously, one of the most important factors in reaching financial goals is setting and meeting a reasonable personal budget. Food is going to one of the largest monthly expenses, and can vary greatly from month to month, depending on a variety of factors.

As we plan to eat healthily- meaning organics where need be, multiple smaller meals a day, reduced red meat, well filtered water - budgeting will be crucial as a few of these choices require a larger expense than its commercial, everyday, substitute. A major reason for the practice of these choices are health concern which we are both encountering, and these practices are known to help with our concerns at hand.

I am trying to estimate a reasonable, yet not limiting grocery budget. I have seen a wide range of numbers from $250 all the way to $700 for 2 people in Canada. Of course observation of habits would be the best measure, but as we both live apart and in our respective homes with our parents and siblings, we do not have that privilege at the moment. But I am trying to prepare the best I can, with the time I have available before hand.

I was at the grocery store today to pick up a few fruits. I was requested to bring home mango's, apples, bananas and grapes, enough to serve someone for 1 or 2 days.

I decided to look at it as 1 piece of each fruit for each day essentially. Now I am sure most of us have, at some point in our lives, have learned about the 4 different food groups and the "recommended" intake of each food group per day. In Canada here, it is "recommended" that an adult have 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, which I will use as a guideline.

My bill from Food Basics in the GTA compromised of:

2 red mango @ $.99 each - $1.98
0.440kg Premium bananas @ $1.48/kg (3 bananas) - $0.65 ($0.22 each)
0.350kg Golden Del. apples @ $2.18/kg (2 apples) - $0.76 ($0.36 each)
0.560kg Seedless green grapes @ $3.68/kg - $2.06

Tax - $0
Total - $5.45

Normally I would look for specials in the weekly flyer's before purchasing, but I was to lazy to drive around, so I went to the closest and the more reasonably priced store.

Now looking at it from the point of view from me and my soon to be wife, this is essentially 1 of each fruit, with 1 spare banana, and half of the bunch of grapes each. If I remove that spare banana the total bill would be about $5.23 for 2 people (or $2.62/person) for 1 days worth of fruit, to meet HALF the daily minimum "recommended" servings of fruit and vegetables. That is about $160/month for a regular basket of fruit.

As we plan to buy organic, it should be expected that the $160 can be anywhere from 25-50% higher or $200-240. But it can also be argued that organic food tends to be healthier as each piece has a significantly higher concentration of nutrients. So, we may need to only consume 3-7 as opposed to the 7-10, cutting the organic basket by about 50%, making it cheaper than the regular basket at a cost of $100-120/month.

Maybe vegetables are cheaper on a whole, and it might be financially better to just eat vegetables and not fruits? I don't know. Fruit is just the easiest thing to measure on a per person basis.

Thoughts, comments, concerns?


  1. Vegetables are a lot cheaper, esp. certain types of green vegetables. I guess the more variety you add the costlier it gets veggies and fruits. You have Costco/Sam Club or any warehouse stores in Toronto? If you are buying for a month that might be a cheaper option.

    (Your prices are a lot cheaper than down in California!)

  2. A couple of issues with your plan -

    Organic fruit does *not* have more nutrients. If has less pesticide, but not more nutrients. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a charlatan. Don't eat fewer fruits and vegetables because they are organic.

    A "serving" of fruit is half a cup. So a large apple is actually 2 servings. With greens its one cup.


    Here is research that suggests organic fruits do have more nutrients.