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Food and shelter are two vital things we need to survive, and they don't come free. Paying rent or making house payments are relatively clear-cut costs, but the cost of food is at times a bit hazy. Some meals we eat out, and for others we stay home, and the price of food constantly fluctuates, making it hard to create and stick to any food budget. A recent publication by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed how much money and time people spend on eating, on average, according to income and other factors. The statistics can help when it comes to budgeting, grocery shopping and providing for a family.

Higher Income Equals Greater Spending on Food
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The BLS statistics show that spending on food increased consistently as income levels increased in the household.

This is true for food at home and food away from home.

Annual Spending On Food By Income

Spending On Food by Income: Lowest 20th Percentile
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Average annual food expenditure for American households in the lowest 20 percent income range was $3,501.

This comes out to just under $10 per day for food.

Food at home: $2,463
Food away from home: $1,038

Spending On Food by Income: 20-40th Percentile
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Average annual food expenditure for Americans in the 20-40 percentile income range was $$4,568

Food at home: $2,999
Food away from home: $1,569

Spending on Food by Income: 40-60th Percentile
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Average annual food expenditure for Americans in 40-60 percentile income range was $5,482.

Food at home: $3,355
Food away from home: $2,127

Spending on Food By Income: 60-80th Percentile
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Those in the 60 to 80th percentile of income spent on average $7,522 annually on food.

These households are spending just over $20 a day on food.

Food at home: $4,316
Food away from home: $3,206

Spending on Food By Income: Highest 20th Percentile
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Those in the highest 20 percent in terms of income spent $10,780 per year on food, on average.

Food at home: $5,629
Food away from home: $5,151

This is the only income bracket where the amount of money spent on food in the home and outside of the home was a comparable amount.

These households spend almost $30 per day on food, on average.

Income Levels and Spending on Food Away From Home
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The wealthiest twenty percent spends considerably more than those who are less wealthy on food outside of the home.

Annual Spending On Food Outside of Home

Households with the lowest incomes spend five times less money on food outside the home as households with the largest incomes, but only three times less on food in general.

Eating Out
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On an average day, about 17 percent of people reported having spent an hour eating and drinking at a restaurant.

Dinner Away From Home Costs the Most, But Not the Same For Everyone
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Eating out for dinner is the most expensive meal to eat away from home, but people spend in wide varieties for dinner, according to income.

 Dinner Away From Home Per Week, By Income

Similar differences in spending are seen in other meals away from home.

Food Preparation
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How many people actually spend time preparing food on an average day? According to the BLS, 57 percent of people spend about an hour a day on average preparing food and cleaning up after meals.

Add that to the hour most Americans spend eating at home, and that makes two hours a day that revolve around food.

Eating While Doing Something Else
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On a given day only about three percent of people reported having eaten while doing another main activity like watching TV.

Eating at Home
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Traditionally we have three meal times, but that doesn't mean we are spending very much time at the table.

More than 80 percent of Americans spend only about an hour a day on average eating at home.

Grocery Shopping
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About thirteen percent or the population reported having spent about 50 minutes grocery shopping on an average day.

Average Price of Food
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The BLS report listed the average prices for common foods in America. How do these prices compare with what you pay?

Chicken breast, per lb.: $3.39
Apples, Red Delicious, per lb.: $1.18
Bananas, per lb.: $0.58
Milk, per gallon: $3.32
Eggs, grade A, large dozen: $1.46
Potato chips, per lb.: $4.77

Price of Food Fluctuates Often
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Looking at this chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we see that the price of food at home has fluctuated by over ten percent in the last five years.

Meat: We Eat It Often
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The United States consumes more meat per person than every country in the world besides Luxembourg, according to a recent article by

The worldwide average for meat consumption per person is 102.5 pounds a year, and Americans eat more than 270 pounds per person every year.

Meat is often the most expensive food we buy, making our carnivorous habit an expensive one.