For the first time in US history, consumer spending at restaurants and bars is more than spending at grocery stores. According to the US Census Bureau and Haver Statistics, in March $50.1 billion was spent in grocery stores vs. $50.4 billion in restaurants and bars.
Zagat’s 2015 Dining Trend Survey says that the national average per person eating out is $39.40. If you are hitting the food truck scene in Austin, the average drops to $25.81, but if you are living the high life in NYC, that number rockets to $48.15. Now, I eat a LOT of carryout food from restaurants, and I know my price per person isn’t that high, so probably alcohol and sodas are included in those numbers.
Why the shift? Demographics explain much of it. Millennials, who are a huge generation, are of the age where eating lunch out with co-workers, going on dates (hopefully NOT with co-workers), and meeting friends for dinner are a huge part of their social lives. On the other hand, Baby Boomers, another huge group of people, are finding eating out can be more economical when it’s just one or two in the household. Cooking for four people and eating the leftovers all week can get old and food probably gets thrown out that way.
Now, it wouldn’t be a financial planner blog if I didn’t use this opportunity to wag my finger just a little bit. Let’s say that for a meal for two people at Little India on South Downing in Denver costs $42.00. True, the wife will have some leftovers that can be used as lunch next week, so call it three meals for $42.00. Still, you have to make a quesadilla and carrots for the kids because they don’t like curry. The cost of that is cheap, say $3.00. You’re up to $45 for dinner on Sunday night.
Compare that with the cost of making 2 large chicken breasts, a yummy box of Rice-a-Roni , and a fresh vegetable. That’s going to be about $15.00 at most. And, there will likely be some leftovers, too.
So, by replacing one takeout meal with a cooked one, you save $30. Do that once per week, invest the savings at a 7% average annual return, and in 25 years, you will have $105,000!
If these topics sound like they would be of interest to your employees, sales conference, or professional organization, contact me at 303-324-0014 or kristi@