Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Eating in Argentina

November 6, 2011
Reviewing our expenses led us to a couple of discoveries about the cost of eating in Argentina:

Milk: A gallon of milk costs about $5.85 (all prices in this post are in U.S dollars). Compare that to the U.S., and consider that GDP per capita is about $14,700. It reminded me of a line from West Wing: "I voted against the bill because I didn't want to make it harder for people to buy milk." Does the $5.85 price tag mean Argentines limit their milk consumption, or do they just accept that that's the price for such a basic food?

Inflation: Argentina has one of the world's highest inflation rates, at about 25 to 30 percent per year, which comes out to about 2.4 percent a month. When put that way, it doesn't sound too bad. But in real terms, that means that our grocery bill of $440 in September, will be $560 by next August.

Grocery budget: Food here is expensive. Last month we spent $515 per person on food (both groceries and going out, including alcohol). It's interesting to break that number down a little:

* We spent on average $115 per person each week
* That comes out to $5.70 per meal
* We eat out semi-frequently (roughly 2 dinners and 2 lunches weekly)
* Our most expensive meal out was $40 total, or $20 per person

Cost/value: A lot of products tend to be either a) much cheaper than at home or b) much more expensive. Meat is cheap; chicken is expensive. Vegetables are cheap; milk is expensive. A gallon of milk costs roughly the same as two medium-quality cuts of steak. Eating cheaply means eating a lot of the same things over and over. Diversity (and diversified nutrients) gets expensive.

Quality: A chunk of brie costs the same thing here as it does at home. But while brie at home is imported from France and delicious, brie here is made in Argentina and only sort of resembles what brie is supposed to taste like. 

Sizing: Oddly, smaller packages tend to be cheaper per kilo than larger packages. Two 250g packs of butter will cost you less a lot of the time than one 500g pack. It's the complete opposite of bulk shopping in the U.S. One explanation I've heard is that if you can afford to buy in bulk, you can pay higher prices.

- Steph

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