Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I've been living in Paris for quite some time, so I don't really know what prices are like elsewhere. I thought my non-Parisian readers (if any) might be interested in seeing a typical grocery bill from a large supermarket in Paris. This is what I spend on one recent visit (I've converted to U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate on the assumption that the reader is in the U.S.):
Qty            Description            Unit Price  Total Price

6 whole milk 1.5 liters $ 3.07 $ 18.42
1 caffeine-free Coke 1.5 liters 1.93 1.93
5 pound cakes 200 g 1.59 7.95
2 chunks of pre-grilled tuna 4.70 9.40
1 box of 18 fish sticks, frozen 5.21 5.21
1 twin pack of paper towels 2.60 2.60
2 twin packs 25 cl heavy cream 3.59 7.18
2 medium bags Bugels (crispy snack) 1.47 2.94
1 twin pack plastic dish-scrubbing pads 3.43 3.43
2 mini sausage snack packs 3.26 6.52
2 hachis parmentier frozen meals 4.44 8.88
1 three-pack dish sponges 4.84 4.84

TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 79.30
This represents about five hours of salary. The milk will last almost a week (I like milk), the other foods will last for a few days. I have to buy a similar amount of groceries almost twice a week, so that's about $120 a week for food, or about $520 a month (roughly two thirds the amount of my rent). This does not include things like eating during lunch at school, which can cost from nothing (if I skip it) to $15 or so (one hour's wages).

Most of my money thus goes to food and rent, with the rest (if there is any “rest”) going to utilities. My tax burden is minimal because I'm now below the minimum taxable income level.

If you think that my choice of foods seems nutritionally questionable, I agree. However, I'm constrained to pick based on price and preparation time, and that tends to favor nutritionally unbalanced, calorie-dense foods.

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