Lessons from the Average American’s Food Expenses


The average American household spends $7,203 a year on food, of which $4,049 is spent on food at home and $3,154 is spent on food away from home.

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Each week, the average American household spends $139 on food, of which $78 is spent on food at home and $61 is spent on food away from home.

Each day, the average American household spends $19.73 on food, of which $11.09 is spent on food at home and $8.64 is spent on food away from home.

时间:2010-06-03 编辑:francie
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It means that virtually any day that you eat out is an above average food spending day. If I eat a full meal at almost any restaurant, I’m going to be spending more than $7.64. There are a few restaurants that can slip a meal in under that price, but it’s either something super unhealthy and of questionable origin or it’s something quite small.

The reality is that eating out is a budget buster, moving you quickly above the American average food expenditure. If you treat eating out as a consistent “everyday” or “multiple times a week” phenomenon, it is extremely likely that your food spending is significantly higher than the average American’s.

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That has consequences. If you look at the full annual budget for the average American, the extra money you’re spending on food has to come from some other budgetary element. Where is it coming from? Clothing? Housing? Retirement savings? Health care? Entertainment? For a lot of Americans, it comes from credit cards, to be quite honest. None of those options are particularly wise when it comes to financial success.

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For me, the solution to this problem was to ensure that my baseline meals were as inexpensive as possible. Unless there is a reason to do otherwise, I strive to eat cheap meals, which are meals made at home out of inexpensive staple foods or things on sale at the store.

What do I mean by “inexpensive staple foods”? I’m referring to what I call the six frugal food staples: rice, beans, dry pasta, eggs, fresh produce (on sale), and oatmeal. Those staples, mixed with things to flavor them (spices, sauces, sweeteners, and so on), can form the backbone of a healthy, nutritious, and varied diet. That’s because those six staples 4月中国木质门市场景气指数发布 门企前景看好. They form the backbone of a lot of different meals and cuisines from around the world.

The best part, of course, is that those six staples are really cheap. A meal utilizing rice, beans, oatmeal, on-sale fresh produce, dry pasta, or eggs is a meal that’s probably going to come in under $1. I can make a lot of meals for less than $1 per person using those ingredients as a baseline. Thus, those ingredients are often the backbone of many of our meals.

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6. Will we witness another global epidemic in 2010?
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There’s another key lesson hidden in these numbers: Averages don’t paint the full story.

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The reality is that numbers like the $7.64 a day “average” are really skewed by the big spenders that are spending many multiples of that amount on food in a day. These are people going to expensive restaurants or eating all of their meals at moderately priced restaurants or consuming super-expensive ingredients at home. They’re out there and they’re busting the average.

What’s actually more interesting is the median person’s data.

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For another example of the difference between “median” and “average,” look at American incomes. In 2015, the median household income (meaning everyone stands in line and we look at the person in the middle) was $56,516, while the average household income (meaning we add up everyone’s incomes and divide by the number of households) was $79,263. How is that possible? It’s possible because some people earn far more than the average – many, many, many times more – in a given year, and that skews the average.

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What’s the point? Aiming to spend something like $1.50 per meal and $1 on snacks for the day puts you pretty close to what the median American spends on food in a given day. You’re not a big spender and you’re not a small spender if you aim for that.

In fact, if your salary is somewhere in the middle of the pack, one way to get ahead is to put in the effort to keep your numbers below that. Aim for $1 meals as much as you can. Learn how to use the six frugal staples as much as you can (and a few other good bargains, like chicken and peanut butter). Cook at home as much as you can.

May you have the best New Year ever.


Good luck!

Trent Hamm

Founder of The Simple Dollar

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