Do people really spend this much on food?

I watched Superscrimpers last night.

It featured a family of five (the children were quite young so not "adults" so to speak) and they spend a staggering £15500 per annum on food (I have rounded the figure).

I was dumbstruck that a family, a very normal looking family could get through so much needlessly.

They did a "stock take" of food in the cupboards, fridge, freezer etc, and that came in at between £900 and £1000.

With the dire shortage of food in this world, it infuriated me with the simpering smiling couple who were trying to "cut down" for the TV cameras

Cooking skills, or lack of them, seem to come up on these types of programmes time and time again, highlighting the need for people to cook "from scratch" in order to maximise their food purchases.

The programme has some good web site links, including a blog which is hitting the press at the moment called A Girl Called Jack. By contrast this young mum manages on about a tenner a week, and cooks up some excellent budget dishes for her and her son.

I have posted the links below to the other food info, all of which is good stuff.

So, do you follow the featured couple on the programme, or are you more thrifty?

I have put this as a general discussion as not everyone one SFN is a member of the food group!

Must dash, as my 6 brace of partridge, 2 gross of qualis eggs and baker's dozen of gateaux are just being delivered to the servant's entrance..................CHANNEL FOUR SCRAP BOOK FOR FOOD


But these guidances exist already, their called cookbooks and are available in for a wide range of proficiency levels (starting with Cuisiner-pour-les Nulls) and budgets per meal.

Sure, the income that you can spent on food plays a role, as well as your choices in your budget. But your culture might even be more determining than everything else. If you've grown up in a family were prefab is king chances are that you will continue in that same pattern once living on your own.

I think the reliance on prepared stuff is a question of limited cooking facilities and also perhaps communal storage facilities - and time as well if you have to share cookers etc. Here the food banks ask for oil, pasta, rice, things in tins... I used to buy them huge bottles until they pointed out it was more practical to have smaller containers.

I don't buy prepared foods (except things like mustard, tomato concentrate, yoghurt) and certainly never ready 'meals' or pasta sauces or packet food because I think they are a) full of unnecessary additional stuff I don't want to feed my family and b) a complete rip-off. I don't go to restaurants that don't cook from scratch.

I cooked my way through uni (on a vertical learning curve, with limited funds and equipment) because meals in hall weren't at a time that suited me particularly (far too early) because it was fun and and friends ended up gravitating to my staircase to eat stuff I'd got on the market (excellent market in Cambridge in those days, plenty of fish/shellfish/game for no money!) and I prefer cooking for crowds. And I'd eaten enough school-type food for a life-time. Feasts were another matter.

Now there are 7 of us in my family when it is just my children me & my pacsé so there are generally far more to feed in the evening - I shop every day on my way home from work & picking up at school (so 6.30ish) and we eat around 8/8.30. I buy tons of tomatoes/onions/basil/garlic in season from a GAEC in Bergerac & make litre jars of pasta sauce for later in the year - a day's work for a few months' supply. I make jam sometimes, I make a cake almost every day for the next day's gouter (if I don't there's the baguette + milka option). I buy pasta in 5 kilo sacks and rice in 25 kilo sacks, most fruit & veg from my maraîcher and cheese, fish, meat etc from specialists (meat also from the butcher in Inter on the Eymet road in Bergerac not the other ones). I probably spend about 1000 euros a month on food and I don't think it is excessive.. I'd rather spend more on better ingredients & eat less. I wouldn't buy mayonnaise for example when it is so easy and so much nicer home-made, and that seems to go for most food, now I think about it a bit.

This is very probably heavily influenced by the fact that I was sent away to school at 4 and while the food at my prep school was excellent, all fresh from local Perthshire ingredients, they even made the jam... the food later on was unadulterated mass-catered cheap filth, stodge with custard made with powder, overcooked everything, ersatz all the way (scrambled eggs made with dried egg for breakfast anybody????).


Brian, I am envisaging large, large tins of "dino food" not unlike the cat and dog food we feed our pampered pooches today.......

The question is interesting. Kind of puts the survival of the human race in question a bit in an odd kind of way. Now we know of course. Dinosaurs died out because of the lack of available prepared dinosaur food. Well, that's solved that then...

As a family we support a shelter in Bristol, and interestingly they always ask for prepared food too. I imagine in this case , it is that the place" has limited cooking facilities and of course they rely on volunteer help, so prepping from scratch may well test the goodwill of those who give of their time so generously - I don't know.

Is it, in the case of the ever growing number of food banks, a concern that there is indeed a lack of cooking skills, so to offer out "raw"ingredients may not be very helpful - there is always the consideration of time - so many people work long hours that starting from scratch at the stove after a long day at work is less desirable than reaching for the can opener and microwave - just a thought.

I am with you there really Nick. Just one quirk in the handouts bit though. My sister was telling me about the fact that it is all prepared, preprepared food in their part of London and she has questioned why ingredients, in other words raw/uncooked foodstuff is not handed out. She prepares food from scratch and buys few prepared things at all and was trying to put herself in the position of needing to use a food bank. It is an interesting question.

Whilst I get the libertarian argument, I don't feel that was the main point of the original post, it was to highlight the food plight some families find themselves in, and it is only going to get worse.

Many leading supermarket directors now concede that the days of cheap food are over, and you can expect to spend an extra 40% on your food bill by 2020.

Many young families are used to living on ready meals, and these are going to soar in price. They need help to do more with less.

I'm sure some couldn't give two hoots if you have the disposable money to buy what you want, but I think morally society has a duty to help all families have a well balanced and nutritious diet. Not charity or handouts but decent guidance on how to use what they have well.

Just my 2 euro cents.

Neighbours put away ratatouille for the winter, eat more high carb meals -stews and soups- that makes it easier to stick to the local rule. I was talking more about flying in Nova Scotlan lobster and paying a premium or having certain fruits year round like raspberries shipped in from who knows where, during the winter.

People have green houses around these parts and the local organic gardener does sell lettuce, spinach. chard, squash, pumpkins, Brussels sprouts and possible rhubarb in the winter, as well as apples, potatoes - the good storage keepers.

Do they really sub goat for lamb here? I joked about that at a restaurant last week, thinking my lamb shank smelled an awful lot like goat! Good thing I don't mind goat.

Reading through everyone's post, it seems that food is a very personal topic. It may be the way we were raised. I remember my mom cooking beautiful simple meals for us, and we ate everything. She would spend her days dreaming up good, healthy meals for us, picking from our garden, going to local farms for fresh eggs, getting the very best for her family. She was good at being thrifty and never waited until she was hungry to start cooking. She lived to eat, but with patience, saving herself for the end result. I don't remember her snacking and she was never overweight.

I didn't have a processed meal until my grandparents took us to MacDonald's at 10 and sure in our teens we wanted to try all the processed crap on the market, but in the end, my brother and I grew up with the value of good healthy food, and we both cook from scratch. I had a fabulous example. However life is busy, and many parents work long hours, and it may not be a priority. Just saying...


I don't know about "staggering" but our food-bill (excluding restaurants) will be around 10-12k Euros a year for a family of five. I cook 90% from scrap, with foodstuffs that are "in season" meat from the local butchers, fish from my trusted fishmonger etc. I am in no way a snob, but I don't buy fresh stuff from supermarkets, given their lack of quality, hence my cupboards contain only enough food to last us 2-3 days. I'm more the type of guy that will purchase less of a better quality at a higher price when compared to that tasteless stuff imported from all over the world that you find dying for a second time in the supermarket shelves.

So yes, that does get costly and no I couldn't care less. My kids eat almost everything, are in excellent condition, have no allergies and have a keen interest in cooking and helping me out in the kitchen. So if necessary I'll skip a shopping trip in town in order to finance it all. :-)

Puts our Invernizzi-Milnes in excellent company.

not to mention New Zealand lamb... but either NZ or Welsh, you know it will be lamb and not something else :)

The 'in season' thing is really so much nonsense when you think of the reality of this at the end of winter. In the past people really struggled to have anything to eat as stored food - salted pork, potatoes, apples etc were in short supply at that time. Be thankful that we can get food from further afield in these modern times. Also, I always smile a little when I spy good Welsh lamb in the promo counter in Le Clerc. It is a real treat in England, but thought second best here.

Whilst i can see you point i go with the "it's there money do with what they will." We do not spend much money on our house or garden prefering to spend it on holiday.(sorry off topic but the same)

We also have 3 months worth of food in stock just in case.When we were both working we did not have the energy to cook a proper meal after a 12 hour day. I watch some of the cookery programs and yes might be ok for a couple of days but try doing it 7 days a week.

As far as food goes I want to live in your region, and yes I know French people who look after friends places when away, in return they get food surplus from the garden; and likewise gardeners share food surplus, it pays to know a veg' grower. :-)

Nice one; yes people can spend what they want where they want, and I agree it is overpopulation that is one of the major causes of everything; however with the continued insane policy that economies must GROW to be good then the drive for more and more of everything will continue. Politicians want population growth. So I think the best we can do is do whatever we think is best. Each to their own.

yes they do, our little ones are Mouysset-Hearnes !

In Vancouver Canada, where we lived before Capestang France, we spend a staggering $1000 for food and food store related products per month. Vancouver happens to be far more expensive than southern France and compared to our friends, who spent twice as much as us, we were thrifty coupon cutters whom only bought sale items, froze value packed meat purchased in bulk and I cooked every meal from scratch. In France, I don't shop specials or cut coupons and our weekly purchases from Intermarcher & Lidl are roughly 75€ for our family of four. I splurge on beautiful fresh seafood nearly each week and many fruits & vegetables are given to us this time of year by our gardener friends, who have more than they know what to do with. Today I made eggplant parmesan from three eggplants and a basket of tomatoes from my neighbours garden who is away on vacation.(no I didn't steal them) It made eight huge portions and I paid a mere 2€ for the cheese. But most people around these parts eat what's local, in season and fresh. What do they call it, the 100 km rule? If they can't grow it within 100 kms then you shouldn't be eating it. We need to teach this valuable skill to cook what's in season to our kids so they don't fall into the processed pre-made food trap. Just saying...