With less than 60 days till our return to the US, I can wax sentimental on almost every aspect of our lives in Holland. Earlier this week the topic was our tiny transportation costs which makes me think about the family budget for the grocery.
Our four sons range in age from nine to 15 at the moment, so folks often comment on how big our grocery bill must be. I’ll be honest, we don’t eat as healthily as we might. Pasta, rice, and potatoes are the biggest plate portion of almost every meal at our house. When I’ve tried to serve vegetarian meals, the boys ask “Where’s the real food?”
For our family of six, an average of the last 3 months grocery budget comes to 299 euro a month ($325). That includes cleaning supplies and my regular extravagance at the Seafood Kiosk/Stand, but it does not include eating out.
Every trip to McDonald’s or call to Dominos is a splurge for our family of six even when we limit ourselves to the “cheap eats” menu or sales. The most recent three months of eating out included 40 euro at McDonalds, 111 euro at Dominos, 72 euro at KFC, and 144 euro at our favorite donner kabab place around the corner from our church. Add that up and you’ll see how expensive eating out is compared with eating at home (122 euro a month–yikes!).
Then consider the cost of school lunches at 38,50 for 10 meals. If we actually bought their lunches, it would be 77 euro a week for our four sons and probably more since the older students eat cafeteria style where their all natural “soda” costs two euro alone. A meal for 3,85 sounds pretty good until you do the math and see another 308 euro on the food budget. Double my food budget for 1 of 3 meals? No, thank you!
Big shout out and thanks every day to my husband who makes and packs up 5 lunches (his own included). We go through 4-5 loaves of bread a week, but I have to say those sandwiches won’t quite be the same without all those wonderful Dutch cheese slices. My kids think square yellow slices were made just for grilled cheese.
The optional items are really the ones that can blow our monthly budget for food, clothes, or entertainment. During spring break we vacationed at home working on cleaning out closets for everyone. We’ve been blessed with tons of fabulous hand-me-downs (Thank you Patrice, Sandy, and Toni especially!), but it was time to set a size cut-off (I know it’s your favorite, but it’s just too small now) and narrow down how many pounds of clothing is reasonable to ship. (Goodbye Thor, Batman, and Ninja costumes!)
Since we weren’t traveling and Dad was working, I decided to be extravagant with outings around home a bit. That meal at our local beach where the boys chose any lunch entree they wanted was 68 euro for burgers (huge 200 g burgers, but still). The day out for the movies (with one guest making us 6 again) was 46,60 at KFC, 52 euro for the 3D movie, and 12 for parking.
It will be interesting as we re-patriate and splurge on food we’ve missed to watch how our budget goes. I imagine the first 3 months will be out of wonk while we adjust and celebrate being home with family and old friends. Until then we will add to the budget with extra stops at the Dutch bakery, the cheese shop, the donor place, the fish shack, and…well, you get the idea.