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How much DO other people spend on food?

May 3, 2010

I get to talk to a lot of people about their spending plans. It’s kind of fun. Most people know what they spend, or what they think they need to spend. But not many know what is average or “normal”. Amongst all of my clients, the outliers are $100/month and $1,400/month, both two person families. I was stunned at the $100/month family. While they don’t buy pre-packed foods and do grow a lot of their own fruits and vegetables, it’s still remarkable. The national average for a family of two is $564, and yes, this includes eating out. Some other interesting food averages are:

  • 43% of our food budget is spent eating away from home;
  • we spend12% of our total income on food;
  • the average for a single person is $373; a family with children is $821; and
  • no, this doesn’t include alcohol; that’s another $34/month.

In my own spending plan, I keep my categories broad and only track about 15 different areas. One is the ratio of groceries to eating out, and when I’m spending more than 35% of my food budget on eating out, I’ve got some realigning to do.

If you want to see where your spending plan lies, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey publishes annual data of more categories than you’d ever want to see: http://www.bls.gov/cex/2008/Standard/cucomp.pdf .

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