I picked up a chunk of $32.75 per pound tartufo cheese today at my local organi-mart. I say “picked up” in the sense of lifted it out of the bin, looked at it, and put it back down again. ‘Cause my monthly food budget doesn’t really allow for cheese that costs more than $30/lb.

But in reality, I actually don’t know what my monthly food budget is. And according to a piece on SFGate (the website of the San Francisco Chronicle) descriptively titled “How much money do you spend on food? Do you even know?,” not all that many of us do. In the piece, Rob Baedeker headed to various Bay Area food-buying venues and buttonholed shoppers, trying to pin them down on their monthly budget.

The results were surprising. Most kept no records of what they spent each month on food for at-home meals and dining out. Even more surprising was the disparity. For the people who could furnish a figure, it ranged from a man who spent $324 in food stamps each month to feed himself and his two kids, to a guy whose monthly total spent on food reaches $1,200 “mostly for himself, and occasionally buying meals for others.”

Baedecker notes that us ballparkers are most likely fooling ourselves into thinking we spend a lot less for food than we actually do. And in the past year, unpleasant surprises like price increases that lifted the cost of decent sliced bread to more than $4 a loaf, seem to be happening with more and more frequency. We should probably all be totaling up our food receipts each month, but I suspect deep in our hearts, we don’t really want to know…

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