May 13, 2024

Question of the Day: Groceries or Restaurants: Where are Americans spending more money?

Instead of asking where we want to eat, should we be asking where we can afford to eat instead?

Answer: Restaurants

A line graph from the St. Louis Fed showing the amount of spending by families over the years at grocery stores compared to restaurants. 


  • Identify the points where significant changes occur in the chart. What events might have caused these changes?
  • What factors might influence a family's decision to spend more at restaurants versus grocery stores?
  • Based on the current trends shown in the graph, predict how consumer behavior might change in the next five years. What factors could influence these changes?


Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.


Behind the numbers (20 Something Finance)

"That’s right – for the first time in HISTORY, Americans are spending more at restaurants and bars than they are at grocery stores. In just over 20 years, we’ve gone from spending half as much on dining/drinking out versus groceries, to equivalent levels.

Of course, this does not mean that Americans are getting equally as much food from restaurants as they are from the groceries they eat at home – with the markups it’s probably more like one-quarter as much food."


NGPF's Budgeting unit can help prepare your students to spend responsibly!


Check out DATA CRUNCH: USDA Low-Cost Food Plan to get an idea of what the federal government recommends on food spending for a family of four.

About the Author

Ryan Wood

Ryan grew up with and maintains a love for learning. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a degree in Business Administration and worked in sports marketing for a number of years. After living in Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Minnesota, the call of education eventually brought Ryan back to his home state of Wisconsin where he was a Business and Marketing teacher for three years. In his free time he likes to spend time with his wife and daughter, play basketball, read, and go fishing. Now with NGPF, Ryan is excited to help teachers lead the most important course their students will ever take.

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