25% Of Income On Food And Dining Out!?

Back in August, Casual Kitchen did an informal survey regarding how much readers spent on food – groceries and dining out – in terms of percentage of income.  Surprisingly, readers seemed to spend more than the average American household.  Or was it because I and a few others skewed the average with an insane percentage? I calculated our household spending for 2 aduls as 25% of income, mostly for groceries and less on dining out.  This was based on a few credit card statements, which should be fairly accurate since we charge most of our food shopping and dining out.  This did not include household supplies or toiletries.  When I posted the comment, I thought it would be on the high end of things.   I had no idea how far ‘above average’ we were.

I thought that we were doing well in terms of spending.  Some of the ways we save are:

  • Shop at a wholesale ethnic supermarket that is consistently less expensive than Ralphs or Vons
  • Eat vegetarian most of the time
  • For the most part, we cook and dine at home
  • When we eat out, we don’t go to five-star restaurants
  • We’re pretty good at not wasting food
  • We rarely do take-out
  • I bring lunch to work about 3-4 times a week

However, after my shock at how much we spend, I also realized that our saving strategies are offset by other reasons:

  • We were eating a lot of fish and seafood
  • We shop at Trader Joes quite often
  • Wine and beer add up
  • We don’t plan a menu based upon sales; we cook what we like
  • Some imported items like tuna, coffee, cheese and olive oil can get very expensive.  I (almost) curse the day I discovered ricotta forte!

I don’t think we’ll be changing our habits anytime soon. The 25% is probably closer to 15% if we factor in my husband’s freelance income, which I hadn’t done when I came up with the 25% figure.  Finally, another justification is that cooking and eating is our main source of entertainment.  We don’t spend much on concerts or movies.  Most Saturday nights, we end up staying in and cooking up a storm.  Also, the actual amount spent isn’t too bad ($400 to $600, usually on the lower end) for two adults, is it???


3 responses to “25% Of Income On Food And Dining Out!?

  1. It’s really interesting to hear your incremental thoughts on this survey. To me, the key isn’t the percent of your income spent on food per se. I think it’s more important that the decision to spend is a conscious one, regardless of the spending level.

    I think it’s spectacular that you’ve decided to see cooking at home–and food in general–as a source of entertainment. I can’t think of a more mindful and healthy way to live. Keep it going!

    Casual Kitchen

  2. Pingback: Grocery Challenge « Oilandgarlic's Blog

  3. We’re the same as you – we’re on a tight budget, and food basically IS entertainment for us. Going out to eat somewhere will be our one thing we spend money on over the weekend.

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