Finding The Cost Of Food

The most satisfactory way to get at the cost of food per individual in a family is to keep careful accounts over a considerable period of time, both of the actual expenditure for food, and of the number of meals served. To make an experiment for a definite time, one month for instance, look over the material on hand, estimating as accurately as possible the amounts of flour, of sugar, of spices, etc. At the end of the month, again take account of stock and estimate the value of the materials on hand. Add the difference if there is less, and subtract the difference if there is more, to the amount expended during the month, and the result will be the cost of the food.

The following tables are records of actual expenditure for food. Table II gives the expenditure in two institutions in an eastern city, where, under the direction of an expert, effort was made to provide a sufficient amount of food at the lowest price.

The left-hand table gives the expenditure for food in a house of correction and the right-hand table for that in an orphans' home. In this table it will be noticed that one of the largest expenditures was for milk. The cost for food at the officers' table was about the same in both institutions. Provisions were bought at wholesale prices.

Table II. Average Daily Cost Of Food Materials Per Person In Two Public Institutions In Boston

Inmates

Officers

Inmates

Officers

523

73

333

35

Cents

Cents

Cents

Cents

Meat and fish (fresh or salt).....

4.67

23 13

1.59

19.60

Eggs..............................

1.14

1.29

Cheese ............................

0.26

0 16

0 20

Milk...............................

0.93

3 13

3 75

5 02

Butter and Lard.............

3 16

0 07

2 97

Flour, cornmeal, crackers ..........

2 22

0.75

1.88

1.19

Oatmeal, hominy, rice...........

0.46

0.12

0 27

0.35

Peas, Beans ................

0.26

0 04

0.12

0.11

Tapioca, sago, cornstarch.......

0 04

0 04

0.08

Sugar ..............

0.62

0.67

0.29

1.27

Dried fruits .....................

0 06

0.24

Potatoes ..................

0.38

0.57

0.17

0 53

Fresh vegetables ....................

0.26

0 48

0.38

Apples ..................

0 02

0.26

0.11

Molasses .....................

0.04

0.04

0.03

0.06

Cost per day per person.........

9.86

33.85

8.37

33.40

(From Report of Institutions Commissioner of the City of Boston for 1897).