WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans report spending $151 on food per week on average. One in 10 Americans say they spend $300 or more per week and, at the other extreme, 8% spend less than $50.
Gallup has asked a version of this question as far back as 1943, but has not asked it since 1987. In 1943, an average of $15 per week was spent on food. The final 1987 estimate was $106.
But the increases in weekly food spending over time largely reflect the impact of inflation. On a relative basis, after adjusting prior years’ data for inflation to 2012 dollars, Americans are spending less on food now than in the past. The average $151 Americans report spending each week on food today is down from the inflation-adjusted $157 to $214 range Gallup found throughout the mid- to late 1980s, the last time it regularly asked the question.
Adjusting the historical data to 2012 dollars also reveals that Americans’ weekly spending on food began to decline in the 1970s, after rising to a high of $234 in 1966 and 1967. That generally downward trend was interrupted by a spike in 1987.