Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why so much about food?

 A reader commented a few days ago on the fact that many of my posts are about food- recipes, grocery shopping, thrifty strategies for eating out. They asked how much the average American spends on food, was it a large percentage of their total income? Hopefully this post will answer at least some of their questions.

I have mentioned food-related topics so often for several reasons. One, I enjoy cooking and eating! I have also found through experience that it is relatively easy to completely overspend on food, whether at the grocery store or more likely when you eat at a restaurant. By being planful about meals and grocery shopping, you can save quite a bit of money and also have the enjoyment of cooking and eating good food with your friends and family. In a household budget, food is one of the items that you have some control over. Rent or mortgage payments are fixed, car repairs are sometimes unpredictable. So by paying attention to the food you eat, you will be helping your budget while helping your health at the same time.

So, on to the numbers. The site Visual Economics has an awesome graphic showing how the average US consumer spends their paycheck. Here's a link to it as well.
Some things to note:
- The average consumer unit is 2.5 people with an average age of 48.8 and spends $49,638 per year
- On average, 12.4% of expenditures is on food, with 7% spent on food eaten at home and 5.4% spent on food eaten outside the home. .9% of expenditures are spent on alcoholic beverages.

Here's a link to a site recommended by Kristy- thanks! It's the guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture of how much the average American spends on groceries per week and per month. We spend around $350 to $375 a month for the two of us, so that puts us in the "thrifty" column. USDA Cost of Food at Home

What do you think of these numbers? Have you found any other interesting sources on food budgeting and expenditures?


  1. I had found this site after Dan asked to raise our food budget a bit. I complained, but found this site and was talked into spending a bit more for food. We spend well over $400 a month, but I realized we like to use our money to support and eat local food so I don't mind if it costs more. We believe in supporting farmer markets and eating local grass fed meat....but supporting that all is worth its own blog Im sure.

  2. @Kristy- Yes, I think the subject of being a locavore can probably fill an entire blog! One of my friends suggested I write about CSA's, the jury is still out for me on the cost vs benefit. Do you have any experience with them?


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