Consumer Comeback Blog

Poll: Americans Spend $151 on Food Per Week

Whether you clip coupons, buy in bulk, feast on lobster or get by on Ramen noodles, anyone who has ever tried to manage their finances knows that the food budget is one of the easiest places to save or splurge.

A recent Gallup poll indicated that Americans spend an average of $151 on food per week, but one in 10 surveyed said funding food can cost more than $300 per week. Twenty-two percent spend between $100-$124, 21% spend between $200 and $299, but 8% spent les than $50 per week.

Gallup polled 1,014 adults, aged 18 and older between July 9-12, to determine food spending habits. Despite the obesity epidemic and conversely, the popularity of higher cost organic foods, Americans are spending less proportionately on food than they did in previous decades.

“While Americans’ spending on food appears to be down compared with the past, this may change quickly if food prices spike in reaction to the worsening drought in the Midwest, which is adversely affecting crops such as corn and soybeans. Food prices may rise by up to 3.5% this year and another 3% to 4% in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Gallup reported.

American spending reached a high of $234 in 1967, but decreased in the 1970s. Still, factoring in inflation, the average was as high as $214 in the mid 1980s. However, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, spending in 2012 is higher than the $124 weekly average in 2010.

Men spend more than women spend on food, and young adults, who are prone to eat out for most meals, and those with high incomes were found to spend most. Young adults spend an average of $173 per week and those who earn more than $75,000 spend $180 per week. Those with incomes between $30,000 and %74,999 spent an average of $144, compared to those earning less than $30,000 spent about $127. Families with children younger than 18 living at home spent an average of $30 per week on food.

The easiest way to save on the food budget is a no brainer. Eat at home or pack your own meals when you are on the go. But in these busy times, convenience food often wins. Still, when asked where they ate dinner last night, 80% of poll participants in September 1989 said they ate at home compared to 77% in July 2012. Women were more likely to eat out than men, and again, younger people with higher incomes responded that they ate at a restaurant the night before the poll.