Grocery Budget

Is grocery $ the crews money? Companies provide X amount of dollars per man per day for food. A lot of captains like to cut things off the orders or try and save money here and there, which I understand, a budget is a budget. Our balance is forwarded to the next month if anything is left over, but in reality shouldn’t we be able to use that $ however the crew may please for extra things like cooking appliances etc or extra food items or personal food wants? Saving food money for the company doesn’t really make you a hero.

I remember years back on tugs we would split the cash up that was left over. I’m sure many places have shied away from giving cash for groceries.

Many years ago the CFO of Tidewater [ known cheap mofo] was questioned about the amount being spent on groceries. He said, “No company ever went broke due to feeding their crew well.”


Use every penny, the money should be used for groceries, but…we often would buy other consumables or appliances if we needed them and had the funds, once or twice we even had the whole crew agree we wanted to install DirecTV in every room with the excess funds in our account.

Just depends on the company I guess.

The trend I have seen lately, is to make the crews buy toilet tissue and paper towels etc on the grocery bill which is wrong but if that’s the case there’s no reason why we can’t buy other items on it.

Splitting of the grub money quarterly or yearly was nice when you had a good Captain who was fair, but often times I saw this abused too.

Captain would take a cut, usually half of the money left in the account, Chief would get a somewhat lesser amount maybe a few grand. The Mates maybe a $1-1.5k, deckhands and new guys maybe a few hundred, those filling in wouldn’t get any.

coincidentally the guy who was always doing the shopping, ordered specifically to come under budget every shopping trip and doing all the cooking on said budget was the AB or OS…who often pulled the short end of the stick.

Thankfully they got away from that and issues credit cards that can’t be withdrawn from. I heard some Captains were putting things like DirecTV, gas for their camper, etc on the grocery card and were caught.

We have cooks on our boats. All they do is cook. The crews are small enough that catering to individual requests isn’t a big issue, as long as the cook is told ahead of time.

The food budget for a nominal 9-person crew /24 days is $5933. The cooks, on average, routinely spend only about 80% of the voyage-budget, though there are times a cook, invariably a relief cook new to the company, will go over-budget.

Things like meat slicers and other kitchen tools are just added to the galley budget. They cost so little compared to the total budget that their inclusion doesn’t matter.

The problem, IMO, with using food budget money for things other than provisions /galley equipment is that eventually a crew member will complain that the boat is being under-provisioned because the money is being siphoned away to something else.

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I first heard the phrase ‘the more you eat, the more $ you make’ when i worked for tdw.


My grandpa told me , back in times and back in old country a farmer who needed extra hands would feed people before hiring them. The more you ate the better chance you had to get hired.

It doesn’t. But who said they save it for the company?

My biggest disappointment working for tdw was getting a Vietnamese cook who couldn’t.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve worked for a company that has a formal budget for grub. We buy whatever we want and it costs what it costs.

Typically, we have a company debit card to buy groceries, and or an account at particular stores. Yes, at some companies there are problems with running out of money on the card and needing to get someone to call the store with a company credit card.

I’ve never seen excess grub money taken home. Over the years, I’ve seen a few instances of crewmen taking store bought food home, particularly at the end of the season.

I’m always amused when I get calls from companies that brag about how wonderful their tiny food budget is.

I’m always shocked when I hear an East Coast company talk about there is extra food money added to the paycheck, and the crew buys its own food.

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I also heard the more you eat the more you make from a AB named Carlos at Tidewater. When I worked in the Gulf years ago there was a formula, I think somewhere around $17 a head per day. Spent time on jack ups the rate was a little higher for contractors than crew, I never could figure the reasoning behind that one. The only shady thing I saw was on a tug. We didn’t have enough to cook 3 meals a day and had cold cut sandwiches for lunch. The captain and his wife did the shopping. It was one for the house and one for the boat lol! I didn’t stay long there I only did 2 or 3 14-day hitches.

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Hasn’t gone up much really. Still only $18.50 at Chouest.


That’s my main gripe. For those of us that have lackluster food budgets for whatever the reasons may be, the food budget should only be for things that make a turd.

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Thats where I heard it too

Wow! I haven’t worked there since 2014. That probably doesn’t go far nowadays.

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Cooking appliances should not be included in that food budget. Besides with the currents prices you don’t get much today.

For a family of four I try to spend $25 a day about $750 a month in groceries and we rarely ever order out, that includes bringing lunch to school and work. (Aldi is my go to store) Just for reference.

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We would get cash. Typically we would take a few hundred off the top and set it aside. Then buy what we wanted grub wise, we always ate well. If that extra money was still there at the end of the hitch great, we split it equally, if not oh well.

More often than not we all went home with $50-100 cash in our pockets.

Captains get cash on my boat. After that they keep a running account and split up the extra on a regular basis. If things are pricey, we’ll roll it over to the next hitch.

Is it only tugs that have no cooks now? I remember when even river towboats had cooks. When did this change and any idea why?

I hear that the river Towboat’s still have cooks.

Crowley and Foss have cooks.

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