2016 was the first year that Americans spent more money on ordering takeout and dining at restaurants ($54.8 billion) than they did on groceries ($52.5 billion).
Trends have been pointing towards this change for the past few years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2015, the average American household spent $3,008 on restaurant meals and takeout, a $221 increase from the amount spent 2014. This was still surpassed by the $4,015 spent on groceries in 2015, but grocery spending only saw a $44 jump from the prior year
Economists are still trying working on this question since it’s been a relatively recent shift.
The beginning of our restaurant fixation can be pinned to the end of the 19th century. As workers moved en masse to urban areas for jobs, dining cars and other forms of fast food began popping up, providing workers with quick and easy lunch options.
The fast food industry also grew rapidly in the United States. Chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell were established in the 1950’s and quickly popularized.
Fast-food and chain restaurants also became fixtures of American life around the same time that women began working outside the home. The food industry inadvertently capitalized on this increase in female workers, offering easy and quick meals for busy families. Female labor force involvement has nearly doubled since the 1950’s and this decline in stay-at-home mothers made families more inclined to eat at restaurants.
In a time of takeout and convenience, cooking is no longer necessary for survival, leading more and more people to order in or go out.
The easiest way to explain this issue is through an example.
CNBC did a piece on a New Yorker named Christian, who was spending $1,100 a month on takeout, despite his looming $93,000 of student debt.
Because Christian couldn’t cook, he was spending $40 a day on food, making it nearly impossible for him to save enough to pay off his loans. They aimed to cut his food budget to around $200 a month, saving him an extra $10,800 a year.
Though Christian is an extreme example, situations like this aren’t all that uncommon. Many Americans are still dying in debt, and though that isn’t directly correlated with eating habits, it shows how little we focus on saving.
A 2016 Zagat survey also reported that the average American eats out 4.5 times per week. Though a few meals a week doesn’t always seem like a steep cost, it adds up over time.
Especially with services like GrubHub and Seamless on the rise, it’s easier than ever to order meals in, but that luxury comes with a hefty price tag in the long run.
Though having food delivered to your doorstep is undeniably appealing, ordering in too often can severely deplete your savings. Cooking can save people hundreds of dollars a month, and sometimes saving is as easy as skipping out on a few restaurant meals a week.
Ordering in is great, but in the name of saving, it should be done in moderation.
This article was originally published on GenFKD
Photo by poppicnic
A salad is the best way to get all of your nutrition in one meal. People will pay me to make a salad for them.
I can charge extra too, because it is unique and based on their taste. Presentation is bar none.