Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Weeks Worth of Groceries from Kitchens Around the World

Did you ever wonder what someone else's pantry and food purchases might look? I don't know how typical these families are, but they give us some insight into how families in other parts of the world eat. Additional photos can be found here. The information and pictures in this post comes from Their stream relies heavily on a photo essay originally created by Peter Menzel.

#1 Australia, Riverview - $428.00 per week

The Brown family from Australia spends around $ 428.00 per week on groceries for their entire family! When studying the eating habits of Australians, it is evident that they consume a lot of potatoes, however this is mostly in the form of chips. Over the last few years, Australians have began eating more dairy products such as yogurt and cheese.

On the increase in Australia is the number of coffee, pies, donuts and hamburgers consumed by the average Australian, all of which aren't too great for overall health! Like most Western countries, foods that were once "party foods", such as candy, soda and crisps have now become "everyday foods" for many households.

The four most common dishes being cooked in Australian households for dinner are: Steak and vegetables, roast chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognaise and beef casserole - Delicious! Australians also love a BBQ, as evident in this photograph with the large quantities of red meat such as sausages and steak.

#2 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo - $90.00 per week

The Dudo family from Bosnia and Herzegovina spends around $90 per week on groceries to feed their entire family. As evident in this photograph, meals from Bosnia and Herzegovina use a lot of fresh ingredients such as fruit and vegetables.

Breakfast in this region usually includes foods such as scrambled eggs or bread with a spread such as jam, butter, honey, or a soft white cheese. Entrees in this country usually consist of a meat or potato dish. Lunch is the largest meal of the day, and common meals include bosanki lonac (a slow-roasted pot of meat and vegetables) or japrak (cabbage rolls stuffed with a savory filling).

Pita bread called somun filled with small sausages and chopped onions is also a specialty of this region. Desserts commonly contain fruit, and this is especially evident looking at this family's week of groceries! Perhaps that's the secret to being able to enjoy dessert whilst avoiding gaining weight?

#3 Canada, Iqaluit - $392.00 per week

The Melanson family from Canada spends around $ 392 per week on groceries! When it comes to what Canadians love to eat and drink the most, the answers might shock you! Did you know that Canada drinks 8.64 times more Americano than any other city in the world, or that Canadians eat 6.19 times more Maple-flavoured foods than other cities around the world? Crazy!

Canadians also love eating ribs and bacon (as featured in this photograph), as well as other foods such as raspberries, waffles, muffins and flax. When it comes to common meals in Canada, stew is a favorite during the colder months. Canadians also like to opt for healthy options from time to time, and they consume 1.55 times more quinoa than other countries - Impressive!

#4 Cuba, Havana - $64.00 per week

Similarly to the family in China, the Costa family from Cuba spends around $64 per week on their groceries. Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean, and while it is believed that Spain and Africa contributed most to Cuban cuisine, the French, Arabic, Chinese, and Portuguese cultures were also highly influential!

Traditional Cuban dishes generally lack seasonings and sauces and this is particularly evident from looking at this family's weekly groceries. Did you know that black beans, stews, and meats are the most popular foods in Cuba, and that root vegetables are often flavored with a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, onions, garlic, and cumin? Yum!

The most common meals eaten in Cuba are those made with pork, chicken, rice, beans, tomatoes, and lettuce. Contrary to popular belief, hot spices are rarely used in Cuban cooking!

#5 Germany, Bargteheide - $568.00 per week

The Melander family from Germany spends a whopping $568 per week on groceries and that's just for a family of four! The first thing we noticed were all of those drinks - Either this is one thirsty family or they're preparing for the apocalypse... Both beer and wine are extremely popular in Germany, and beer is even mixed with other beverages in order to create numerous different types of the beverage.

The average person in Germany will consume up to 61 kg of meat in a single year! Pork, beef, and poultry are the main varieties of meat consumed in Germany, with pork being the most popular, and chicken, duck, goose, and turkey are also widely consumed across the country. Germans also enjoy a range of cold meats (such as salami, ham etc.), as well as sausages.

You may also notice a lot of vegetables in this photograph and that is because they are used in stews or vegetable soups and are also served as side dishes. Carrots, turnips, spinach, peas, beans, broccoli, potatoes, cabbage and onions are very common additions to meals. Germans also love to eat bread rolls with their meals, and these are often cut in half and spread with condiments such as cheese, honey, jam, Nutella, butter, margarine, or even filled with cold meats or fish.

#6 India, Ujjain - $45.00 per week

The Patkar family from India spends around $45 per week on their groceries. You may notice a lack of red meat, and this is because Indian cuisine has been shaped by Hindu and Jain beliefs, and in particular by vegetarianism. Staple foods of Indian cuisine include pearl millet, rice, whole-wheat flour, and a variety of lentils.

Indians also love to use a range of spices in their cooking, and the most popular of these are whole or powdered chilli pepper, black mustard seed, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, ginger, coriander and garlic. Desserts and sweeter dishes are seasoned with cardamom, saffron, nutmeg, and rose petal essences - Delicious!

Indians also prefer to drink tea or coffee with breakfast. Roti is a common and popular flat bread eaten with most meals, and this is clearly evident from the photograph - Just look at that tower of bread!

#7 Italy, Palermo - $295.00 per week

This is the Manzo family from Italy, and they spend around $295 per week on their groceries. Although Italian cuisine is influenced by Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, and Jewish cuisine, the food of Italy is also well-known for its simplicity and use of very few ingredients. Traditional Central Italian cuisine commonly uses ingredients such as tomatoes, meat, fish, and pecorino cheese.

Cheese, wine and espresso coffee are all treasured elements of Italian cuisine. Italians are also well-known for their love of pasta, including penne, macaroni, spaghetti, linguine, fusilli, lasagne, ravioli and tortellini. Basil, nuts and olive oil are also popular ingredients used in Italian cooking, and in case you didn't already notice from this photograph, Italians absolutely love their bread!

#8 Japan, Kodaira City - $361.00 per week

The Ukita family from Japan spends around $361 per week on their groceries. The traditional food of Japan includes rice and miso soup. Side dishes often consist of pickled vegetables, fish, and vegetables cooked in broth.

The Japanese particularly love fish, and it is often grilled or served raw as sashimi or in sushi. If you've ever eaten in a Japanese restaurant, you will have also noticed that seafood and vegetables are commonly deep-fried in a light tempura batter.

Apart from rice, Japanese cuisine also includes many noodle dishes, and Japanese food is traditionally flavored using a combination of dashi, soy sauce, sake and mirin, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Japanese cuisine commonly uses seafood as they like to take advantage of the country's bountiful, surrounding ocean.

#9 Kuwait, Kuwait City - $252.00 per week

The Al-Haggan family from Kuwait spends around $252 per week in order to feed their whole family! The national dish of Kuwait consists of mutton, chicken, or fish placed over or mixed into a large amount of rice. Food is very important to the people and culture of Kuwait, and this is why it is often prepared in large amounts and shared with many family members and friends.

Indian, Persian, and Mediterranean cuisines have all had a significant impact on the food of Kuwait. Did you know that a meal is never complete in Kuwait unless it is accompanied by dates and either a side of yoghurt or tahini? Sounds delicious, right? While most meals involve meat and cheese, other popular dishes also include pickled turnips and tabouleh.

#10 Mali, Kouakourou - $30.00 per week

The Natomo family from Mali spends just $30 per week on groceries to feed their very large family. Although Malian dishes vary from region to region, rice, millet, sorghum and fonio all provide staple ingredients. Meals are commonly served with sauces of fish, meat or vegetables, and grains are often used to make porridge.

A healthy juice made from hibiscus, ginger or the fruit of the baobab tree is a Malian specialty! Many Malians also enjoy drinking millet beer. Fish, including the capitaine fish or Tinani fish, are also commonly barbecued or grilled over an open fire.

#11 Mexico, Cuernavaca - $189.00 per week

The Casales family from Mexico spends around $189 per week on their groceries. We cannot help but notice how much this family loves Coca Cola! The basic staples of Mexican food include native corn, beans, chili peppers, tomatoes, squashes, avocados, cocoa and vanilla.

Mexican cuisine also uses a lot of beef, pork, chicken, goat and sheep meat, as well as cheese and herbs and spices. Did you know that Mexican cuisine also uses rare or unique ingredients in their cooking such as edible flowers?

Tropical fruits such as prickly pear, sapote, guava, mangoes, bananas, pineapple and custard apple are extremely popular. Mexicans also enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages such as tequila, pulque, brandy, wine, beer and rum.

#12 China, Weitaiwu - $65.00 per week

The Cui family from China spends around $65 per week on their groceries! China is a vast country, so naturally there are many different cooking methods and ingredients. For example, Sichuan cooking is well known for its hot and spicy flavors, and Cantonese cooking is famous for its sweet and sour style.

The most common ingredients in Chinese cooking are all pictured in this family's weekly groceries, and they include shallots, ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Meals in China usually consist of either rice or noodles.

Although both the northern and southern regions of China enjoy plenty of fresh vegetables in their diet, the regions also have some differences in their cuisine. For example, in the northern part of China, people like to eat dumplings with meat, steamed buns and noodles. In the southern part of the country, people eat dumplings with traditional Chinese sugar sauce and noodles.

#13 United States, North Carolina - $342.00 per week

The Revis family from the United States spends around $342 per week on groceries for their family of four. A lot of dishes that are typically considered American have actually been developed from other cuisines. For example, hot dogs and hamburgers are both based on traditional German dishes, and pizza is based on the traditional Italian dish!

Americans are widely known to love fast food, and judging by this family's groceries, that is highly evident - We can spot McDonald's, pizza, fried chicken, a hot dog, nachos, and some Burger King among the other food! Some American families like to make breakfast a large meal, often consisting of cereal, eggs, toast, pancakes, coffee, and fruit juice.

Did you know that the ice-cream sundae was born in America? As a result, Americans are huge fans of ice-cream, and eat it more than other countries. Americans are also lovers of smoothies and coffee-blended drinks, so we're surprised we can't see any in this photograph!

#14 Ecuador, Tingo - $32.00 per week,

The Ayme family from Ecuador only spends around $32 per week on their groceries. It is interesting to note that the poorer families are often the ones eating the most healthy food. There isn't one processed food in sight in this photograph!

Ecuadorian cuisine varies with altitude and agricultural conditions. For example, pork, chicken, beef, and guinea pig are popular ingredients in the mountainous regions, and these are served with rice, corn, and potatoes. A wide variety of fresh fruit is eaten, including granadilla, passionfruit, naranjilla, several types of bananas, uvilla, taxo, and tree tomato.

People living along the coast of the country often eat fish, beans, and unripened bananas. In the rainforest, a dietary staple is a starchy root which is then peeled and boiled, fried, or used in a variety of other dishes.

#15 Egypt, Cairo - $78.00 per week

The Ahmed family from Egypt spends around $78 per week to feed their entire family! You may have noticed from this photograph that Egyptian cuisine involves large quantities of legumes and vegetables and this is due to Egypt's rich Nile Valley and Delta producing large quantities of excellent crops. Egyptian cuisine is based on foods that grow out of the ground, and you may notice only small quantities of meat. This is due to the fact that throughout Egypt's history, meat has always been very expensive to purchase.

Egyptians also love their flat bread (as pictured) and it is consumed at almost all Egyptian meals. Egyptian meals also commonly involve stuffing vegetables such as capsicum, zucchini and eggplant with rice. Kebab, Falafel and baklava may be known as Eastern Mediterranean dishes, however they are also widely consumed in Egypt!


Ginny Hartzler said...

So interesting to see how the other countries eat and what they cost! Here, fresh food cost more than fast food, which is why so many poor people around here eat at McDonalds. But that is not the case in other countries!

Glamour Drops said...

Please don't judge Australian cuisine on that selection and description! Yuk! Our own diet, and that of our family and friends, could not be more different.

I think the point also needs to be made that just because one family eats that way, it is not typical of a whole nation. So many other factors come into play.

Coleens Recipes said...

This is just fascinating, I couldn't quit running back through the photos!! I was feeling pretty guilty at spending $500 a MONTH for our groceries; now I don't feel so bad hahaha.

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Very interesting post Mary. We spend around RM200 per week in grocery shopping, which equates to around $80. That doesn't seem so much!

Duncan In Kuantan

Lynn said...

That was very interesting Mary! I liked the note "it's interesting that the poorest families eat the healthiest"... No doubt Americans need to start cooking for themselves again:@)

Tracy H said...

I enjoyed this article so much I passed it along to some of my friends who are now adopting organic, gluten free and vegan diets.

Tricia @ Saving room for dessert said...

Mary - this is one of the most fascinating posts I've ever seen. How did you do this? I would love to know more. Biggest surprise? Germany and Australia

Tanna said...

Very interesting, Mary. The choices for the weekly food are interesting, too. blessings ~ tanna

Jessica Jarrell said...

I love this post, so fascinating. Thank you for putting it together! I spend about $65 a week for a 2 person family, and I'd say half that amount of money is spent on fresh vegetables and fruit.

Lsarpolis said...

I am embarrassed by the grocery list of the Americans as I am an American and would never ever have food items like that in my home!

Susan Lindquist said...

I. too, found this a fascinating read. I enlarged the photos to really get a look at food types and products ... looks like fresh fruits and vegetables are less expensive in other countries ... the amount of processed foods in England, Japan, USA, Canada was pretty alarming, but it bears out the nutrition stats for these countries ... and had a laugh about Germany and all the beer ...

Dorine King said...

Hi Mary,

I love this post! As a Feng Shui Practitioner, I see many kitchens and pantries. I find them very interesting. One of my favorite pantries is in the kitchen of a woman from India. I loved her pantry and the array of spices she had in it. She and I laughed about the size of her Turmeric container. Where mine holds about 1/4 cup, hers holds about 2 cups! While we had our appointment, her mother-in-law was cooking their lunch. OMG(osh!) How wonderful her home smelled! Good Kitchen Feng Shui!

Diane said...

What an interesting post. Wow, Germany sounds expensive but I was amazed at the amount of liquid that was there. We go through many bottles of water so maybe there was some water there as well.
Just looked through our food bills for last year and we averaged 278€ per month, wine not included. At today's exchange rate that is $379 and for only two of us. Most of our vegetable is home grown so does not come in to it. It was much higher when we were in the UK.
Have a good day Diane

Chiara said...

that was very interesting!

David said...

Mary, This is a very informative and interesting blog! Love the comparisons... There are only 2 of us plus a cat to feed and if we included the cost of eating out each month, the number would be/is a bit scary! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

KimH said...

I saw this a couple years ago.. its so interesting..
My diet looks nothing like the Typical American Diet that is portrayed here.. and we can all take comfort in knowing that none of us are the same.
I tend to use grass fed & pastured beef & chickens, organic veggies and rarely do we consume bread or wheat products..
However.. I know folks who do eat a diet very much like what is portrayed.. and its scary. What I said to a gal who was interviewing me regarding food, I call it "dead food."

Ciao Chow Linda said...

That really was a fascinating look into how other people spend their money on groceries. It got me wondering about my own situation. I never really keep track, but I can't imagine it's as high as some of the ones in the essay.

June said...

Interesting the Canadian example is from the far, far north - Baffin Island where nothing grows, not even trees and the population is minimal. Pretty safe to say everything would have to be flown in. I'm puzzled why they didn't select a family from a location that is more populated and less likely to promote the fallacy that all Canadians live in igloos and eat seal blubber stew.

Barbara Bradford said...

Thank You. This was really interesting, I had not imagined the differences between countries in food dollars. I love to see the different foods in the raw state, also.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I've seen this before and found it so interesting. Thanks for makes people pause and think about what they are eating.

Angie's Recipes said...

What an interesting read! much beer on German table.

Eha said...

I received this from Victoria Challancin ['Flavors of the Sun'] this morning and have since reposted. I also write from Australia and largely agree with 'Glamour Drops'. [and I do have a medical/nutritional/financial background]. Australia has become an expensive country and the money cited works out about right for how we work it out, but we are working very, very hard to get reduce the fast food component, sugars and saturated fats and increase vegetable consumption.

Cher Rockwell said...

Very interesting post - thanks for sharing!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Fascinating what to see people in other countries eat. Great post with very interesting information. Amazing about the liquid in the diets.

We lived in a third world country where the cost of food was almost double the price in the US, and most of the food came from the US. Years ago they ate almost no fresh food or vegetables, mostly canned vegetables and milk. Lots of fish, but mostly fried. A different world for sure. And not many healthy people with that kind of diet. You do what you have to do....

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