After I wrote the “How much do you spend on food” article which blew up, I decided to continue my investigations into the food spending topic. The information in that article is good at a high level because it shows how much each income tier spends on food – both at home and eating out. However, it doesn’t get into the details of what we actually spend on.
The folks at the US Census Bureau were kind enough to conduct a survey over the last 25 years to determine where we spend our money. I think they did it just for me because I’m not sure why else anyone would want go through that painstaking process!! I combed through their data and summarized how much we spend on food on average by detailed categories. For now, I’ll stay at the higher level categories, but they break it into lower levels which we’ll dive into later.
To the findings
The sample set average annual income in the survey is $60,753 (2009); which is above the current average household income at $49,445. However, it gives us a good benchmark to review against. The total monthly food budget for food eaten at home is $313, while food away from home is $218. This matches pretty closely with the statistics from the BLS statistics when reviewing by income tier.
Let’s take a look at how the average family spends their monthly food budget.
It doesn’t surprise me that the two biggest food categories are “Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs” and “Fruits and vegetables”. This correlates with our personal budget, especially since we try to go organic with both categories. I think the “Cereals and bakery products” and “Bakery products” are lower for us because we don’t do much baking. I’m not sure why there are separate categories for cereals… apparently some people eat a lot of cereals!
The “Other food at home” category consists of sugar and other sweets, fats and oils, miscellaneous foods, nonalcoholic beverages, and food prepared for road trips. Oh yes, they get that detailed! The “Sugar and other sweets” category average is around $12 per month. I love chocolate, so I think our number is above average!
The other interesting part is the column I added to track the percentage increase in food expenses since 1999 (ten years). The overall increase in food expenses is 26.7%. I thought the “Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs” would be the highest increased category, but instead it was “Other food at home” and then “Fruits and Vegetables”.
Within the “Fruits and vegetables” category, the “Fresh Fruits and Vegetables” increased by over 40% while the “Processed Fruits” only increased by 4%! I guess this is a good sign for our health since we’re eating fresher foods. Surprisingly, beef has only risen by 2.75% since 1999.
Alcoholic beverage expenses also experienced a large jump at almost 37%. Economists always say that alcohol sales increase during a recession, so our numbers could be a result of that!
This should give you a good idea of how most Americans spend their money on food each month. How does this compare to your monthly food budget?