What We’re Buying at the Grocery Store

Planet Money’s Lam Thuy Vo looked at data from the Bureau of Labor statistics to break down how much we spend on groceries today compared to 30 years ago. Meat industries have become more efficient at producing meat for the masses, which sounds sickening if you think about what that entails, but it’s resulted in lower prices as well. The data shows that a little more than 12 percent of our spending went to groceries in 1982, and now it’s under 9 percent. A very large percentage of our spending also goes to processed foods now. This could mean that our eating habits have gotten worse, but it also means that canned and frozen food have gotten better (although not better for us), so we’re spending more money on them. When I was a kid, my folks would sometimes heat up frozen TV dinners for me when they didn’t have time to cook — they were not good. But a frozen package of potstickers from Trader Joe’s? I would not say no to that.