You Spend Less of Your Money on Groceries Than Your Grandma Did

It's perhaps hard to believe, but the USDA says you spend less of your income on food than your parents and grandparents did.
You Spend Less of Your Money on Groceries Than Your Grandma Did

When you look at your grocery bills, you may feel like you’re blowing the bank on food, but guess what? Americans today actually spend less money on food than they did in 1960.

According to a chart recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average share of per capita income spent on food in U.S. households in 2013 was 9.9 percent, up a teensy bit from 2007, when it was 9.6 percent, but dramatically lower than the 17.5 percent spent in 1960.

"We are purchasing more food for less money, and we are purchasing our food for less of our income," USDA agricultural economist Annette Clauson, who helped compile the data used in the chart, recently told NPR’s The Salt. "This is a good thing, because we have income to purchase other things."

Not surprisingly, people in the highest income bracket spend the lowest percentage of their income on food: about $11,000 per year, on average, in 2013, or about only 8 percent of their total income. People in the lowest income bracket, on the other hand, spent about $3,655 per year on food, about 36 percent of their total income.

That doesn’t mean the prices of some individual items at the grocery store — beef and eggs, for instance — haven’t climbed, NPR points out. But, Clauson insists, "Food is a still a good bargain for the American consumer.”

Just keep repeating that to yourself like a mantra to stay calm in the supermarket checkout lane.

Photo courtesy of @USDA_ERA

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