Page last updated at 07:19 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 08:19 UK

Families' shopping lists: October 08

We returned to our six families around the world to see if their shopping list and their eating habits have changed in the wake of the recent global financial turmoil.

The Mhatre family
The Mhatre family

| Mumbai, India| 40% of income on food

Yang Ning-ning and her mother
The Yang family

| Shanghai, China| 20% of income on food

Sheila and Andrew Mbiru
The Mbiru family

| Nairobi, Kenya| 18% of income on food

The Abdulwahab family. Aza Hedar is on the right of the photo wearing a blue scarf.
The Abdulwahab family

| Cairo, Egypt| 80% of income on food

Evelyn Rodas
The Rodas family

|Quetzaltenango, Guatemala| 60% of income on food

The Classick family
The Classick family

| Feltham, UK| 10 - 15% of income on food


The Mhatre family
The Mhatre family: Poonam, Neil, Shaniya And Tyra

Poonam: Prices really have gone up quite a bit and in our household food is one of the priorities.

As we are financially comfortable, there has been little change in our spending patterns.

But what is true is that we do spend much more on food these days.

People have different mindsets. Some people would think ten times about what they buy and it would bother them even if they could afford it. But for our household as food is important, we would have to make cuts elsewhere.

A neighbour of mine, an extremely hard working lady, told me she had stopped buying mutton because it was so expensive. Occasionally she has chicken. Even fish prices have soared.

I think poorer people have been cutting down on food. In Indian food, the basic masala is made with onions, garlic, tomato and cumin. As onions and tomatoes are very expensive, people just put cumin in with their dish.

The Mhatre family spends almost 40% of its income on food compared to 30% in June.
1 kilo of rice: $0.57 (34p)
1 kilo of lentils: $1.2 (70p)
1 kilo of mutton: $2.8 (1.60)
1 kilo of beans: $1.3 (76p)
In this new financial climate, I think people will think twice about going to the doctors. They would wait and see if they get better without a visit.

A lot of people invested money in the shares market. Even I have done so. There are some who planned to send their children abroad for education on the returns of that investment. Since market is down that money is now gone.


Yang Ning-ning and her mother
Yang Ning-ning and her mother

Yang Ning-ning: Inflation seemed to be a big problem earlier this year, but now it seems to me to be under control.

Most people are not really worried about inflation. But they are worried about the stock market. Many people in Shanghai have invested their money in the stock market and many are losing their money.

We have someone who we pay to help us do the cooking at home. Once a week she goes to the wet market to buy fish and vegetables. The prices at the vegetable market are always changing. And on the whole it is going upwards, especially fresh green vegetables which are getting more expensive.

In the old days they were extremely cheap but now only when the vegetable is in season, is it cheaper. Currently, cabbage, spinach and cucumber are in season.

The Yang still family spends 20% of its income on food.
1 kilo of rice: $0.50 (30.5p)
1 litre cooking oil:$1.80 (92p)
1 kilo of pork: $6.6 (3.80)
1 kilo of greens: $0.73 (37p)
If there is bad weather, crops become more expensive. The farmers who grow the vegetables are also charging more for labour. Fuel prices are going up and they have to travel. Some people from the countryside have told me they have to spend more to grow things.

But according to the media the government is trying to develop agriculture and improve the situation of farmers encouraging them to grow more so we don't need to import. Then it will be easier to keep prices under control.

I think people are worrying about the situation abroad and how it will affect life here.


See Sheila shopping at the local supermarket

Sheila: The amount we spend has definitely gone up a bit. I'd say about 18% of our joint income now goes on feeding our family.

Our habits have also changed, we certainly eat out less than we did.

On Sunday after church we would go out for a meal with the three children, but that happens less now.

And in August when the children are on holiday, we would go out in the evenings, but that happened less this holiday, too. In fact, that's when the children started to notice and ask "How come we don't do this so often?"

The Mbiru's fruit bowl
The Mbiru family spends 18% of its income on food.
1 kilo of maize flour: $0.59 (34p)
1 litre of cooking oil: $2.23 (1.27)
1 kilo of chicken: $5.15 (2.94)
1 kilo of potatoes: $0.59 (34p)

If you have people round for a meal, or you visit them, it's more common now to take something. Someone will make the main dish, someone else will bring the salad.

Apart from the global financial problems, fuel prices recently went higher than they've ever been and I know that affects the cost of food.

We harvested maize, beans and potatoes from the vegetable patch my son started. We ate the maize and potatoes, but have kept the beans for the next planting season.

Sadly nothing is growing at the moment though, because there's been no rain and water is rationed. The little water we have, we use in the house, so we can't water the plants.

In a way it was a good thing because I could teach the children that this is what crop failure means. If you don't have a water source, that's a problem.


The Abdulwahab family. Aza Hedar is on the right of the photo wearing a blue scarf.
The Abdulwahab extended family of five adults and three children

Azza: I'm now back on my feet after my road accident and feeling much better. It means that I can go shopping for the family in the market.

Still, it is not easy. The hours I work mean I have to leave home early and cannot join the long queues for bread which still form daily outside government bakeries.

Recently I have been buying unsubsidised loaves which are much more expensive.

My brother, Othman, has also returned to work after his back problems.

He and his wife and daughter have now moved out of my mother's place. But still he helps support her and so do I through my job as a cleaner.

Aza shopping with her sister-in-law
Azza says the Abdulwahab family spends over 80% of its total income on food.
10 unsubsidised loaves of bread: $0.90 (50p)
10 subsidised loaves of bread: $0.09 (5p)
1 unsubsidised litre of cooking oil: $2.30 (1.31)
1 subsidised litre of cooking oil: $1.50 (86p)
1 kilo of beef: $7.22 (4.13)
1 kilo tomatoes: $0.37 (21p)

Almost all the money that comes into my mother's house goes on food. But we're spending about 80% of our income on food altogether.

Nowadays I don't buy chicken or meat because the prices have gone up so much.

It was hard during Ramadan.

All our extra money went on special treats that we only have once a year during the holy month - Arabic sweets for example. But there was still no meat.

We are eating a lot of foule [made of fava beans, the Egyptian national dish] at the moment because it's the cheapest and easiest snack. It has become an essential for us."


The Rodas family
Evelyn: The price of the dollar keeps coming down, but food prices are still rising. Vegetables have gone down as this is the time of the year of most production in Guatemala.

But the price of products like milk, eggs, bread and corn, which are vital for our breakfasts and dinners, have gone up.

Around 60% of my income goes to buying food. The price of the basic food basket for a family of five had gone up from US$227 in March to US$268.66 in May. Now that we are in October, this has increased to US$323.69.

I think the main worry for consumers in Guatemala is to preserve their income source and then redistribute their expenses by changing their shopping habits.

Evelyn cooking
The Rodas family now spends 60% of its income on food, compared to 40% in March.
1 kilo of corn tortilla flour: $0.83 (48p)
1 litre of cooking oil: $2.47 (1.43)
1 kilo of chicken: $5.00 (2.90)
1 kilo of potatoes: $0.80 (0.46)

We have stopped buying non-essential products, like refreshments. We have also switched to cheaper brands.

But there are some foods that we cannot go without like milk, eggs, oil, bread, corn tortillas, meat, vegetables and grains. They have gone up. We are buying a lot less meat.

I think the rise is uncontrollable, because it is influenced by the behaviour of commodities like oil and the instability of the prices of products like black beans, corn and wheat.

The poorest people devote a higher percentage of their income to buy food. The problem is that, as they loose purchasing power, they cannot afford to spend more money.


See Joanne planning her shopping

Joanne: We seem to have been quite lucky, as much as our food shopping bills have stabilised.

I seem to be spending between 100 and 120 per week on our food shopping, and this hasn't gone up from my last update.

I'm still not buying a lot of pre prepared foods, as these seem to be the most expensive, and not all that good for you. I'm lucky though, because I am able to be at home to cook for the family every day.

Loaf of bread

The Classick family spends 10%-15% of its income on food.
Loaf of bread: $2.17 (1.25)
1 litre of cooking oil: $1.87 (1.08)
1 kilo of carrots: $1.36 (78p)
1 kilo of lamb: $13.89(7.99)

I am still using the farmers co-operative some weeks, and other weeks I just use the supermarkets. It really depends on what offers are about each week. I would say that is probably the biggest difference in my shopping habits, I now actively look for offers and discounts, whereas this time last year I just went to one place and bought everything I needed.

I think our food shopping is somewhere between 10% and 15% of our weekly income, but I think some weeks it could be more.

I have noticed that prices have gone down on certain things like bread and vegetables, but plenty of other stuff have gone up so we haven't noticed any of the savings.

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