How Do You Stack Up to Other Americans in Monthly Food Spending?

March 24th, 2013 by 

Ever wonder how much money the average American spends on food?  Eating out?  Making food at home?  How about monthly?  Care about how the 1% spend their monthly food budgets?

We've got you covered!

This data was released in early 2013, and tracks spending in 2011.  Click through if you access this article in a feed reader or email.

Food spending by Americans, divided into income after taxes.  2011, from BLS.

Interesting to note: as income increases, more monthly food spending consists of eating out.  Additionally, other than a weird hitch around $60,000, the amount we Americans spend on food roughly increases with after tax income.

As for your humble, 3,200-calorie-a-day-eating author?  There's only 2 of us at DQYDJ headquarters, but that doesn't mean we don't juice the economy with our eating habits!  Over the last 12 months, we've spent $13,430 on food - $1,119.16 a month.  ('Only' $4,214.85 was spent eating out - $351 a month).  If you want to compare that to your own spending, factor in the Bay Area's food prices, and an over 9% sales tax.

How's that for a voyeuristic look at what, exactly, powers this site?

How We Calculate Food Spending Per Month

We crunched the numbers given to us by the BLS's semi-annual Consumer Expenditure Survey.  In that survey, respondents self-report the amount that they spend on a large number of categories, among them spending on eating out and on eating at home.  They make the microdata available, but we use the 'average after tax income' reported in the survey, find a curve of best fit, and use that equation to give you this nifty little tool.

That said, the top data point is $232,086 - so you're probably going to lose a lot of accuracy on households making more than $300,000 or $400,000 or so - so don' t trust the numbers for the upper 1% of the 1%.

As for using this to shape your behavior?  Perhaps as a benchmark, only - I make no adjustments based on the number of mouths you have to feed.

How many people are in your household?  How much do you spend on dining in?  How about restaurants, fast food, bars, and other food outside the home? Have you tried our pizza area value comparison?



PK started DQYDJ in 2009 to research and discuss finance and investing and help answer financial questions. He's expanded DQYDJ to build visualizations, calculators, and interactive tools.

PK lives in New Hampshire with his wife, kids, and dog.

Don't Quit Your Day Job...

DQYDJ may be compensated by our partners if you make purchases through links. See our disclosures page. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Sign Up For Emails
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram