When I graduated in 1971, I bought a house just inside the Welsh border between N Shropshire and N Wales.
Our nearest market town was Oswestry, and we went once a week (on market day) to buy all our food requirements for the week. Our bill, for a huge variety of vegetables, was a staggering ONE POUND; which supplied far more than we required for our small family (bread, cheese, and meat, was a bit extra). We still often remark about how little it cost.
Many years later here in S W France, my old college friend T moved to a nearby converted barn, and asked about living costs. He had moved from Dubai, and had no idea how much he would need to budget for France. I was able to assure him that for a reasonably gastronomic diet, with wine and petrol, it cost me around €50 per week (house taxes, electricity, water, etc, were extra). He seemed surprised.
Now, we are in 2021, and things are quite different. I am often amazed that when going shopping with a relatively short list; my week's purchases invariably cost over €100, when I'd imagined it would be a max of €50.
Many may think that for two people €100 is actually quite reasonable, but being an old codger, I find it a lot.
The constant decrease in the 'value of money' is quite worrying. In roughly 1700, Samuel Pepys mentions in his diary the amount of money he paid his maid (I can't remember the sum). 80 years later, another Samuel, Dr Johnson, also mentions his maid's wages, and they were exactly the same. Those 80 years had seen no inflation.
Later this year we will probably move back to England for a few months, so I asked a friend about living costs. She assured me that she rarely spends more than £200 per week on food. I was HORRIFIED. £200 a week seems to me like a bloody fortune; I do hope she was exaggerating. I suspect that much of her expense is wine (or gin)!
I refuse to 'dumb-down' my diet, but can happily live on far fewer of my usual more expensive gourmet French treats or wines.
We don't normally eat take-aways, other than Indian or Chinese; which I'm sure I shall be unable to resist. Maybe that's where the money goes.
We allocate €20 for the laiki (outdoor produce market) each week. That fills the fridge with freash fruit and vegetables, buys all our dry stores (like rice, plyouri, cornmeal, lentils and beans, olives and capers) and sometimes runs to a loaf of rye bread. Milk, meat, cheese and yoghurt (and alcohol) are extra but I seldom spend more than €40 per week for two of us. Eating out is extra but we haven't done that for a year and I never order takeaways. Thank goodness for neighbourhood shops, I haven't done a 'supermarket shop' in over 2 years and don't miss the experience one bit. These days supermarket visits are reserved for oddities (mostly things foreign to Greeks) that I can't find in the neighbourhood. Even our cleaning products are sourced from the laiki. (Catfood is the exception to all this - Mr T's menu costs about a euro a day on top). Spoiled cat? He wouldn't say so.ReplyDelete
I go out once a week, and my list is for basics only. Even so, I rarely seem to spend less than €100. I'm sure prices have risen drastically in the past months/year.Delete
I agree prices seem to be rising dramatically , I spent 70 euros in Lidl yesterday and I have no idea on what , I did not even have booze but I did have pet food . I saw a blog a couple of weeks ago where someone said they spent £30 a month on food , but they declined to explain why it was so little .Delete
I did our first BIG shop since mid-December this week..... 250€ total of bills. But 48€ of that was the animals... 3 cats, 3 chickens and a cockerel.... so, 50€ per week approx at the supermarkets. Total spent at our local village shops for the period was just under 100€ [25€ a week]ReplyDelete
Not unreasonable I feel.... would have been cheaper by far if I'd left out the Talisker, Laphroaig and Glenmorangie [82€!! But that'll probably do us for 9 or 10 months]
Not too unhappy... could live without some of the licksuries.... if push came to shove.
Both shop methods reduce in summer when the potager comes on stream.... yours must, too, surely?
It's all the little things that add up. I think I must buy too many small 'luxuries'Delete
Welcome to the world of the Shopaholic..... it took me living on a fiver a day to lose that behaviour....Delete
Just for interest.ReplyDelete
Today's Twitter Poll 2: How much do you spend PER PERSON on your weekly grocery / supermarket shop?
NB if you don't do a weekly shop then add up the monthly cost and divide by 4 (or 4.3 if you're being accurate)
PS 2nd poll as so many wanted a per person version
£20 - £44.99/wk
£45 - £69.99/wk
£70+ / wk
It looks like I'm in the 8.3% category. I obviously 'must try harder'.Delete
Cro... that's for one person.... unless M'Lady M buys her own scran.... you are in the 19.5% £45>£69 a week....Delete
remove Billy's nuts from that as well and you'll be in the £20>£45 [61%] group
We spend about £200/ week - but there are 6 of us! No alcohol, other than a very occasional bottle or 2 of beer, thoughReplyDelete
I usually buy 10 litres of red wine a week. We share much of it, and use quite a lot for Coq au Vin, Bourguignon, etc.Delete
Pleased to see I'm very average! Spent my life being average - which sounds safe but boring!ReplyDelete
Most of us are 'average'; I know I am (but maybe not in my spending habits).Delete
You will find veg much cheaper in the UK supermarkets than in France. Currently you can buy a bag of carrots, parsnips or onions for 50 - 60p each in Tesco. Cauliflowers are rarely more than £1. I always find veg eyewateringly expensive in France and they don't seem to keep as long either.ReplyDelete
You might struggle with the wine and of course, the growing season is nowhere near as long for growing your own veg. Although you will no doubt do better with that down south than we do in Derbyshire.
We don't have a garden at out Brighton home, so all vegs will be shop/market bought. I'll miss Haddock's.Delete
I haven't got a clue how much I spend a week on food and after what I've been reading I have no desire to find out. I don't buy 'from day to day or week to week' though. I keep my fresh food eg salad stuff etc stocked and the rest is replenished when I notice that part of the cupboard getting low. I dislike having to decide too far in advance what to eat so make sure that I can usually decide on the day.ReplyDelete
I am a list-maker. As soon as I return from one shopping trip, I start writing the next. So, everything I notice that we need isn't forgotten; which is probably why I spend so much.Delete
Living alone I usually spend around sixty pounds a week on food, the odd bottle of wine and lots of fruit and veg. Not lunching out at present because of my hip and Covid - that would put the budget up.ReplyDelete
I know that you loved your trips out to restaurants, so that must be saving you a bit (reluctantly). We don't eat out too much these days; we prefer to have friends here.Delete
No matter how much you spend on food per week, the main thing is all prices are now much higher, or as often the case, the price is the same and there is less contents in the packet.ReplyDelete
The way they regularly cut the size of Chocolate bars, they'll soon be tiny!Delete
I never spend more than about £160 per MONTH! And that's only because I've had to start ordering online instead of visiting Lidl which is good quality but a lot cheaper. The only time I went a bit over was Xmas, as I did order a bottle of vodka, a leg of lamb for xmas day and a few extra bits and bobs, which took it up to around £200. But then we don't eat a lot of meat, hardly any in fact, I don't buy ready made meals, and I make my own soap and laundry liquid. Neither of us smoke or drink or eat luxury titbits, but we do eat extremely well. So yes, you can eat cheaply in the UK.ReplyDelete
PS the vodka was for my home made Baileys!Delete
I expect our part-time vegetarianism will be extended to several days a week, which won't worry me too much. We've started to think of meat (good quality) as luxuries.Delete
We tend to spend around £60 - £70 per week for the two of us, but double that when we add wine to the trolley. Which seems to be quite often nowadays.ReplyDelete
Meat and wine seem to be the two main culprits. I wouldn't want to cut them out completely; maybe just reduce them a bit.Delete
The huge difference is where you shop. That was a shock to us when we came to live in the UK a few years back. I knew Waitrose was more expensive but did not realize that Lidl and Aldi were so much cheaper than Tesco and Sainsburys.ReplyDelete
10 litres of wine a week is going to cost you in the Uk. Though, again Lidl and Aldi wine are cheaper than others and, if yiu choose carefully, excellent value.
In the UK we tend to use either Waitrose or M & S, but I think I shall have to start looking elsewhere.Delete
If you are using Waitrose you will spend at least twice as much on groceries compared to Aldi or LidlDelete
Why don't you spend an idle hour on the Tesco website going through an average week's list? They are probably in the middle for prices, and it will save you having a heart attack when you getting here!ReplyDelete
I trust that you will be buying your strawberries, apples, asparagus and meat from the local farmers and nurseries when, and if, you spend anytime in England.ReplyDelete
On reflection I suppose you won't be here when the above mentioned fruits and vegetables are in season.Delete
Apparently there's a new very small 'Farmer's Market' just down from our house, which I'm looking forward to using.Delete
Will you have to ask your tenants if they'll have you to stay in the spare room?Delete
We'll need to see what happens before October.Delete
When I first married (30+ years ago) estimating £1 per item at the supermarket gave me a fair idea of the bill. I've long since abandoned that method. Two of us and the dog spend about £120 a week. Mostly fresh (organic) fruit and veg but I do buy 'designer' cereal.ReplyDelete
My 'designer cereal' is usually bacon.Delete
Push button post where you know you will engender many comments and I am obliging you. Didn't you say you had not been to the UK for decades? Will you visit Brighton and come back as a gay?ReplyDelete
I know enough about the UK that £200 a week on food is absurd. You must have a very rich friend.
I think she just drinks a lot of Gin. Brighton hasn't made me gay yet; and I doubt it will.Delete
PS Avoid the Tesco party pies.ReplyDelete
Even the name makes me shudder!Delete
In Lidl you can buy fresh vegetables for 39 Cents at the moment. I only grow half the amount of vegetables I use to now we have a cheap supermarket near us.ReplyDelete
I'm still living on plenty of fresh 'greens', plus different things I bottled/froze back in autumn.Delete
I have no idea how much we spend on food a week but it's certainly a lot less than we used to. Family gatherings are few and far between now the festive season is behind us and we no longer have gatherings of friends.ReplyDelete
Our wine consumption costs a bit but we have been given a lot recently so we haven't had to fork out for alcohol.
We probably spend about 50 euros a week on groceries, food and general supplies.
Our spending has also gone because we can't go on a trip to a big supermarket as we used to. They're on the next county and out of bounds.Delete
Like Tigger we prefer small shops and so our buying is essentials only.
Supermarkets encourage wasteful shopping.
The supermarket I go to is probably the best around, so I presume it's a bit more expensive than the others. I don't like cheap food.Delete
We are working hard on reducing the shopping bill. And looking hard at anything that has to be imported and asking do we need it.ReplyDelete
Garden produces will hopefully be whatever I can grow that costs too much to buy.
I had to do this when bringing up 4 offspring alone.... didn't think I would have to do it again
I think we'll be doing the same. It doesn't make sense spending too much.Delete
Two of us, on average £40 per week, no alcohol. Everything home made from scratch. Meat two to three times a week.ReplyDelete
I do like my meat, but usually we have two veggie days a week. I think we may soon increase that.Delete
Wait till you see the price of butter, Cro. It is the one item that makes my eyes water. Mainly because butter isn't optional. Hope Lady M's baking won't be stunted.ReplyDelete
Also, do not buy into Waitrose and M&S being more expensive. Sure, some lines are. But then they, particularly Waitrose, sell speciality foods you wouldn't find in other supermarkets. I shop across the board - with an unerring sense of where to save and when to splurge.
Anyway, you must be so excited at the prospect of spending time in England again (your dislike of travelling notwithstanding). Are you? Chiming in with Rachel: How will it work with your house in Brighton/your tenants? What of Haddock's in the planting season? Never mind the watering. Hope you have neighbours to look after the land in your absence. A nice plump happy free range and/or organic chicken from the Duchy of Cornwall (ca £15.00 - 20.00 @ Waitrose) will mop up your tears.
One of your other readers mentions "Farmers' Markets". Do not be fooled, Cro. At least here, in Hampshire, they are the open air equivalent of going shopping at F&M or Harrods Food Halls.
End of tour, American Express greetings,
I go to Waitrose mostly because it's opposite a wonderful Asian shop called Taj, which is one of the world's wonders! It has EVERYTHING.Delete
Completely disagree that Waitrose isn’t more expensive on almost everything. I do agree that there are things that you cannot find in Aldi or Lidl.Delete
As for butter being expensive...I guess it depends on what you are used to.
If you do move back to Sussex for a few months, I advise that you shop at either Aldi or Lidl to save some dosh. Also - if you put on your most ragged clothes and put your dog on an old rope you will have no trouble gathering extra income if you sit crosslegged outside Brighton railway station with a piece of cardboard reading -"VICTIM of BREXIT. PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY"ReplyDelete
It's an idea. Not a particularly charitable one. Alas carrying cash is not exactly encouraged these Covid hysteria days. Which leaves those sitting "cross legged" short. It's one of society's big shames. And yes, I do carry cash. Out of principle.Delete
Beggars all carry 'card readers' these days; they're no fools!Delete
Our food bill is always over £100 weekly ! But, food and drink is our great pleasure .... we don’t eat much meat but have a lot of fish ... lots of fruit & veg, eggs , wine and try to source our food responsibly .... it all adds up ! XXXXReplyDelete
This is the problem with being a 'foodie'. Those of us who have high standards, have to pay the price.Delete
Actually many pay for the shopping experience and assume a higher price means better quality.Delete
Love it when people say “those of us who have high standards”,
Some will buy Chickens for £4, others are prepared to pay £10 for a naturally reared bird, but maybe only have one every two weeks. If you can't understand that, then there's no hope for you.Delete
Lidl has naturally reared birds at a higher price but lower than Waitrose....my comment was somewhat tongue in cheek. There used to be a lot of snobbery about Aldi and Lidl....much, but not all of it, has gone now.Delete
I'm always suspicious of cheaper food, regardless of where it comes from. I put my trust in price reflecting quality.Delete
A lot of people have made money from that belief. I prefer to rely on my taste buds, provided any animals are reared appropriately.Delete
Don't worry. We spend aroun €100,-- per week shopping in Holland. I found the prices in England very similar. Going out for a meal (in the pub) is certainly much cheaper in England than it is in Holland.ReplyDelete
We haven't eaten out since last March... I've almost forgotten what it's like.Delete
That is a lot, comparably speaking. But we have a freezer full of meat and produce. We buy our fresh fruits and vegetables, and our eggs and milk mainly. I guess that we cannot refer to ourselves as foodies really, but we've got food.ReplyDelete
If I bought a big sack of flour, I quite expect we could live quite well (without going out shopping) for a month or more. We have well stocked freezers, plenty of tinned food, plus my own conserves. However, I would miss my little treats.Delete
My son moved back in with me a couple of months ago after his divorce and I would say €100/week is pretty spot on for food. I could probably get it lower but I could definitely pay more too. Mind you this is considered an expensive area (Haute Savoie). I guess I'm just comparing it to when I lived in Switzerland and everything seems cheaper. As for your friend spending £200/week, is that for two people???? That seems like an awful lot to me but then I haven't lived in England for many, many years!ReplyDelete
It seemed like a lot to me too. I hope she was exaggerating. I suspect she lives on Gin.Delete
I can never figure out what life costs, or perhaps I should say I can't make the effort, I just look at the bank balance monthly and if necessary adjust, but when I see claims of supposed "household averages" they always worry me as they seem a lot less than I manage. Still, the bottom line in the bank is what matters, and health! and happiness or at least some degree of contentment. Your life in France sounds appealing, especially from cold January Scotland.ReplyDelete
Micawber was right. As long as we end the year with a few quid in the bank, all is well.Delete
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