Welcome to The Receipt, a series documenting how Bon Appétit readers eat and what they spend doing it. Each food diary follows one anonymous reader’s week of expenses related to groceries, restaurant meals, coffee runs, and every bite in between. In this time of rising food costs, The Receipt reveals how folks—from different cities, with different incomes, on different schedules—are figuring out their food budgets.
In today’s Receipt, see how a 55-year-old woman living in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, manages food for herself, her two kids, and a husband, whose $150,000 salary covers groceries. Keep reading for her receipts.
What are your pronouns? She/her
What is your occupation? Chef/nanny/Uber driver/personal shopper/toilet scrubber/gardener/mom/wife person. I was a private chef when we had our first child, and it made no sense for me to cook and clean for someone else so I could pay someone to do it not as well as me, so I unofficially retired. I’ve tried to work a few times, but cooking is a job that doesn’t allow for family emergencies or vacations, so it’s never stuck.
How old are you? 55
What city and state do you live in? Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
What is your annual salary, if you have one? We are a single-income family, with two boys, ages 17 and 10. My husband makes $150,000 annually working for a German renewables company. I don’t know what he does. I call him Chandler Bing for this reason.
How much is one paycheck, after taxes? After health and other insurances and 401(k), it’s $4,200
How often are you paid? Biweekly
How much money do you have in savings? $80,000 in 401(k), $13,000 in savings
What are your approximate fixed monthly expenses beyond food? (i.e., rent, subscriptions, bills)
$2,700 mortgage$400 utilities (gas, water, trash, electric, and internet)$180 student loan$320 car payment and insuranceWe budget $300 for credit cardsOther monthly expenses: $130 for Hulu + Live TV, Netflix, HBO Max, Discovery+, AMC+, Amazon Prime Video; $25 for Apple News+ and The New York Times; $180 monthly for phone, which includes Apple TV.
Do you follow a certain diet or have dietary restrictions?
No, but my family each has “preferences,” which is why I run a kitchen without running a kitchen anymore. My husband likes to pretend he’s keto until I go to bed, and then he eats a big bowl of granola and whatever is left over from dinner. The teenager is never here, but when he turns up he lives on sandwiches and frozen pizza and BBQ chips. The little one sucks at eating and I feel like a failure. He’ll eat mozzarella sticks with marinara or cheese pizza, but not burrata and tomatoes from the garden. For him, I throw carbs and salad and fruit his way until dinner, when I load him up on whatever special version of our dinner I made. I am trying to be less resentful. It’s not working. For me, it’s candy I stash all over the house and apples and half the salad before I call dinner and serve them. There is always salad. It’s my thing.