Monday, January 28, 2019

How many calories a day do you eat?

A couple years ago, Mrs. Pierini Fitness asked me how much we spend on food.  What triggered her question was a conversation she had with her, then, 88-year "young" father about how much he spends on food.  His answer was shocking.  Knowing he's a master of frugality, I have every reason to believe it's true.  I even put his answer to a sophisticated financial analysis and confirmed its probable authenticity.

What he shared was that he spends about $20 a week on food!   How is that possible you might ask while, more likely than not, scratching your head searching for your own answer to this question.

In answering my wife's question about how much we spend on food, I didn't need to lick my finger and calculate a guestimate because I know for sure since I’m the chief financial officer in our Pierini Fitness household.  My answer was a little embarrassing because of how it was significantly more than my father-in-law's answer.

Fast forward to the present, for 2018, my wife and I spent an average of $654 per month on food.  Yikes, I bellow after doing the math to arrive at this amount.  It includes grocery store shopping, primarily at Trader Joe's, eating out, and my daily morning cup of coffee on the go.  We don't drink alcoholic adult beverages but, if we did, that would need to be included in my calculation and it should in yours.  Only food counted in my answer, so I excluded toilet paper and other non-food stuff we sometimes purchase during food shopping at Costco.  These items are not "food."

Going back to a couple years ago, I asked several people I know having a similar profile in life; the empty-nesters, not obese, married couples who are middle-aged folks in their 50's and 60's.  What I learned is that most people do not know how much they spend eating but they're able to give a quick guestimate.  

My sister and brother-in-law answered about $600 to $700 per month.

An old high-school friend and client answered about $500 per month.

Someone else I know answered about $750 per month.

And, a few clients who are business owners gave answers ranging from about $1,000 per month to a high of about $1,600 per month.

After this quick survey, I then asked this question on a retirement discussion forum I sometimes frequent.  My question generated a lot of interest and sharing as evidenced by over 175 replies and almost 9,000 views by forum participants.  Their sharing was insightful and revealing about how diverse, affordable and/or expensive are our eating habits and associated costs.

How did my, then, 88-year "young" father-in-law manage to eat on about $20 a week?

Well, he's a creature of habit and has been for most of his life.  My wife recalls as a child that her father was sometimes in charge of cooking breakfast for her and her brother on school days.  There were never-ending streaks of either scrambled eggs or oatmeal on his menu; "mush" as she called it because it was overcooked oatmeal that had turned into a mushy-like consistency.

Additionally, the "old man" is a very light eater.  His breakfast reliably consists of a small bowl of mush and a piece of fruit with a very-overripe banana being his morning fruit of choice.  He finds the price of overripe bananas better suites his incessant frugality.

He cooks all his meals at home but on some days, he goes to a senior center social club that is notorious for potluck events.  And then he has constant funerals to attend that come with his 88-year "young" turf.  Meals are often provided during celebration of life post-funeral festivities.

For lunch, he likes home-cooked lentils, a small serving of chicken, a couple corn tortillas and maybe another piece of fruit.  He does have a sweet tooth of sorts so he might conclude his lunch with dessert consisting of a couple, but no more, cookies.

For dinner, he might eat a couple of homemade tacos and a serving of rice and beans.

My father-in-law is of Mexican ancestry, lean and lightweight and, proudly, prescription medicine-free.  Furthermore, he comes from a generation when people cooked their meals and ate at home; eating out was for special occasions only.  I do believe he spends about $20 a week on food.  He's a 10th degree black belt master of frugality!

By the way, also asked this same question to my, then, 85-year "young" mother who, like my father-in-law, lived alone.  She estimated her monthly food budget was about $150.  She was a waitress when in the working “rat race” so her idea of eating well is to cook and prepare meals at home and not go to a restaurant.  She has a permanent case of restaurant burnout from all her years of "waitressing".

My wife follows a gluten-free diet for health reasons and just about all the food we buy is organic.  We aren't gentleman or lady farmer types growing our own fruits and vegetables and neither do we care to be.  These factors contribute to our higher food budget. 

I know from prior and current health and wellness self-scientific experiments of practicing intermittent fasting (IF), that it's one surefire way to lower the cost of eating because you end up eating less food.  But who has the time and desire to do that?  For most of us, our clock and mindset centers around food.  This is America, the land of bountiful excess.

So, what's the purpose of this rambling and how does it relate to middle-age man fitness, health and welfare?

Well, being fit, healthy and well requires that we eat only the food required to meet our daily requirements considering our basic metabolic requirements, an extra allowance for lifestyle activity and, finally, an additional amount equal to the calories we burn from exercising.  If we don’t know how much we spend on food, how likely is it we’ll know how much we eat as measured by calories?  An earlier Pierini Fitness blogflection shared with you the relationship between calories consumed and calories expended, or CICO (calories in calories out.)

Here it is if you missed it:  The mathematical proof of CICO

What about you, my fellow middle-aged man?  What's your cost of eating and how many calories a day do you eat?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum


michael said...

I spend between $700-800 a month. I have 3-5 people that eat in my household. That depends on how often my oldest and his girlfriend eat there.

Plus we have different eating styles and food allergies in my household. My wife is pretty much a vegetarian. By the way, she's Costa Rican. My youngest has a nut allergy and is a picky eater. I'm allergic to diary and soy. If it was just my wife and I the food cost would drop.

Pierini Fitness said...

Good that you know how much you actually spend, many don't. Food is fuel for our body to meet our basic metabolic needs and lifestyle plus what's needed for exercise. We need to put quality fuel in our "tank" so we shouldn't be cheap.

Thanks for visiting Pierini Fitness and enjoy your day.