For The First Time, Americans Spend More On Eating Out Than On Food At Home

In light of yesterday's OECD news confirming that Americans remain the most obese nation in the world, and as McDonalds' blockbuster results yesterday showed, American consumers are increasingly spending more on food away from home. As shown in the chart below, spending on food at home and food away from home have been converging over the past 60 years, with traditional home-cooked family meals on the decline. In fact, according to the USDA, for the first time ever, the amount spent eating out has surpassed what US consumers spend on food at home.

Here are some other observations on US feeding habits via Bank of America:

  • Consumers are eating alone more often and more "on demand". 47% of US meals are consumed alone and 43% of US consumers say they enjoy eating alone. Given how busy households and consumers have become, it is becoming more common to combine eating with catching up on news/social media, or to consume on the go. It also appears that the trend is for less planning for eating occasions. Millennials account for 40% of those who consume food within an hour of purchase. This is known as "immediate consumption" and accounts for about 15% of all meals. And 65% of instant consumables are eaten at home (source: Hartman Group/Forbes).
  • Consumers are willing to pay a premium for increasing levels of convenience and on demand. Globally, on average, they are willing to pay 14% more for online grocery delivery, 25% more for meal kits, 30% more for prepared meals and 55% more for restaurant take-outs (source: Lux Research).

According to BofA, tech disruption is changing how US consumers spend money, even on "necessary" goods such as groceries.

  • Spending by Millennials at online grocery stores has risen by 750% since 2012 and is running at a 55% yoy pace since 2015. Generation X (330%) and Baby Boomers (240%) have also increased spending at online groceries but at relatively much more modest rates.
  • Major cities see a greater share of food consumption from dining out vs. groceries. The combination of competition from online grocers and greater urbanization may continue to present a challenge to the standard grocery store model.


ThirdWorldNut espirit Wed, 07/26/2017 - 17:00 Permalink

About 15 odd years ago, I read an article that said alarmingly high number of Americans didnt know how to cook. I remember being shell shocked for a good while, infact it took me few years to fully accept that this was indeed the case. How can one not have such a fundamental skill? Living with family is synonym with being a loser. Not being able to eat outside is a sign of misery. Americans truly have been gamed big. 

In reply to by espirit

tgatliff TabakLover Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:05 Permalink

If I could actually eat out and it be healthy and somewhat cost effective, I would never cook again.  Not cooking saves time and allows me to focus on things that I am specialized to do.  The problem is that you can rarely find truly "healthy" pre-prepared food because most people dont want to eat healthy.  Whether they eat out or cook it themselves, the overall issue still remains.

In reply to by TabakLover

jimmy c korn tgatliff Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:46 Permalink

The problem I have with eating out is that you usually can't see into the kitchens where the food is being prepared and how nasty the kitchens really are. Most restaurants know when the Heath dept inspection is due and act accordingly. And do you really think that all employees wash their hands after taking a trip to the bathroom? 

In reply to by tgatliff

M O B Bad Goy Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:30 Permalink

Yes, the boomers came of age in a terrible time for food habits, but that doesn't stop us from teaching them.My mother is a terrible cook, and my father can only BBQ. They did not have much to pass on, but that doesn't stop one from finding recipes online, waching cooking shows, or just plain old experimenting. Now my parents (mid 60s) love learning new recipes from me for when they will entertain their friends next.It's not hard--it just takes some time.

In reply to by Bad Goy

TheLastTrump (not verified) Bad Goy Wed, 07/26/2017 - 17:45 Permalink

Give me a fucking break with your trite boomer hate. People live the way others of their generation do, same as you're doing TODAY. Hidsight is 20/20 & because you have got it does not mean you're a genius. BTW, fuck your goyisms.

In reply to by Bad Goy

a Smudge by an… yogibear Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:12 Permalink

Would be interesting to see how this breaks down against income levels. This would speak to the actual diets people are consuming.

Where I'm at it's 100% franchise restaurants. We got all the low grade ones. They repeat ever 5 miles. Every now and then there's a Denny's or Applebees for fine dining.

If I had to eat that shit more than once a week I'd want to die.

In reply to by yogibear

Miffed Microbi… TabakLover Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:35 Permalink

Cooking is sensual. My husband brought home a trout and I made pan seared trout on sautéed spinach with blood orange sauce from my tree. Served it with a local rose. Put on some nice French cafe music and had a magical evening.

It's sad people are content with a crappy chemical burger infused with essence of diseased cow. How far have we fallen.


In reply to by TabakLover

Miffed Microbi… Robert Trip Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:56 Permalink

I had just harvested 40 lbs of blood oranges and was trying to utilize them though I admit I could have fed an army's diet not dented my haul. I added a little lemon, dug up some of my shallots and added a large pinch of saffron and some of the Rose. Reduced and blended it. Added a tbsp of butter. Just amazing! I had never pan cooked trout before. Seared it and basted it with ghee. Turned out well.

I've never been formally shown how to cook. Just trial and error and a willingness to experiment. Perhaps the formality of my profession has helped. Someday before I die I'd love to explore the cooking greats and not just be a wannabe. At least my animals are always willing to consume my failures.


In reply to by Robert Trip

venturen Wed, 07/26/2017 - 15:57 Permalink

does this include SNAP? When I see my local fast food outlets...there are outrageous numbers of SNAP recipients. The rich non-SNAP's are eating at home

Lostinfortwalton Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:00 Permalink

Well, I just read another article that said year over year restaurant traffic was down significantly as people can no longer afford to eat out as much, not to mentiom that the quality, portions, and service in restaurants has declined.

Yen Cross Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:04 Permalink

  These numbers are 100.00% bullshit! If you call eating out a slice of pizza and a candy bar "dining out".  Shopping online for groceries is fine, but the meals still need to be prepared.

White Knight Wed, 07/26/2017 - 16:04 Permalink

My generation definitely doesn't know how to cook at large. Heck, my own brother and his wife never really learned. Their kitchen skills are atrocious and typical of millenials, from where I'm standing. I admit that my skills aren't the greatest either. In my case, its because I am on my own. I find I am highly motivated to cook if its for someone else, but for me? Nope. LOL maybe instinct. Idk. Depressing statistic to be sure.