A quick backgrounder on today's post: In response to my recent post on how food spending has fallen to all-time lows (Guess What? We Spend Less Than Ever on Food), I asked Casual Kitchen readers to share their own personal food spending data.
Read on to find out how real people handle their food budgeting decisions, and how their spending compares to the national averages.
So what were the results of our food spending poll? After running the numbers, it's clear that Casual Kitchen readers spend more on food than the national average--quite a bit more, in fact.
Percent of Disposable Income Spent on Food:
Total Food Spending
CK Readers: 14.7%
US Average: 9.6%
Spending, Food at Home:
CK Readers: 9.8%
US Average: 5.6%
Spending, Food Away from Home:
CK Readers: 5.0%
US Average: 4.0%
I know my readers take their home cooking seriously, but I never expected our food spending to be five percentage points higher than the national average. I assumed this survey would generate misleadingly low results due to selection bias (i.e., lower-spending readers might be more likely to respond, skewing the results downward).
So much for my assumptions.
Details on the responses:
1) I had 28 responses via blog comments, email and Twitter. While this sample size is too small to draw much more than anecdotal conclusions, it's worth noting that the results were relatively normally distributed around the mean, and the mean and median of this sample were nearly the same.
2) The responses ranged from a high of 25% of income spent on all food to a low of just 6%. There were quite a number of you in the 8-11% range--at or near the government averages. And I had one respondent (the head of a family of 12 whose food spending exceeds her mortgage payment!) who was so far off the charts that I had to exclude her from the data set.
3) Quite a few of you spend very little eating out. There were several respondents who spent 2-3% (some even less than that) in the food away from home category.
4) A few of you took care to differentiate between your budgets and what really happens each month, an impressive feat of both accuracy and candor.
Which takes us to some final thoughts: Who would guess that the readership of a frugal food blog--one that specializes in laughably cheap recipes no less--would spend that much more than the national average on food!
What does this tell us? Does it imply that there any inefficiencies in our food spending that we can exploit? Are we really spending more than we need to on food, or are we spending just the right amount?
Does Healthy Eating Really Cost Too Much? A Blogger Roundtable
If It's So Cheap to Cook at Home, Then Why is My Grocery Bill So Huge?
Spreading the New Frugality: A Manifesto
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