Ally Bank Looks at What Americans Spend on Dining Out

One of the most important aspects of money management is knowing where your money goes. So this week we’re examining national spending habits and determining where we spend the most and least on everyday items such as gas, coffee and clothes.

Today we turn to a favorite American pastime: dining out. For the next six months, 61 percent of Americans say they plan on spending less on dining out, a recent Harris Poll showed.

Austin, Texas has citizens who spend the most on eating out: about $525 a month, or more than $6,301 a year, according to a study by Grist, an online publication. Residents of Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, spend almost as much.

Detroit’s citizens spend the least amount to dine out – an average of just $871 annually, or $72 a month. Including groceries, the average Detroiter spends only $2,246 a year on food. For a close look at spending where you live, check out Grist’s infographic below.

What Americans Spend on Dining Out


How much do you think you spend on dining out each month? 
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  1. 3
    Schlena Stanton

    our family spends less on dining out than the average American family. Home cooked meals are not only cheaper, but a more healthy meal for my family. We maybe eat out once a month if that at all.

  2. 4

    When the economy went bottoms-up I started making healthy meals at home is a lot cheaper and I can make enough for 2 or 3 meals, freeze the extra and repeat the next day. By the 15th of the month, I don’t have to cook for the rest of the month.

  3. 6

    I cant believe how much money my family spends on eating out. Some weeks we eat out every night of the week, we go witout a home cooked meal. One Macdonalds, Chic Fila the next, chinese, sandwiches, chips, soda then we wonder why we are all so overweight and have no energy. My grandson has ADHd and his behavior is sometimes so out of control. I am a type 2 diabetic and my daughter weights almost 300lbs she is going to have a lap band put on in February. We keep this madness going on weekends as well. It cost anywhere from $20.00 to $25.00 each meal we eat out so its not hard to do the math for this. I am trying now to get my family back to eating home cooked food and it is a challenge. my grandson is having a really hard time with it. He is so used to eating food that is hig in sodium and calories that it is diffcult to get him to eat home cooked food. I would love to have some help to get my family on a healthing eating plan andd also get my budget under control.

  4. 8
    John H

    I live in the Austin area, and at first I was surprised that Austin topped the list. But the more I think about it, it’s not that surprising. There’s so many amazing local places to eat out, and Austin really pushes going local to eat and buy stuff, and emphasizes local places rather than the national chains. There’s also the food trucks and such.

    I think it also has to do with what the cities specialize in. If you look, most of the top places are big technology hubs. Austin, San Jose, Raleigh, Durham, San Francisco… Not to mention that the recession has largely avoided Austin. An article came out a few days ago that said that the occupancy rate in Austin is 96%… Normally it’s about 90%.

  5. 12

    I wonder what the obesity rate is in those higher ranking cities… “Everything’s bigger in Texas” right?

    I think CHARLES makes a good point. You can have much healthier meals and save a lot more money.

    IMO America is “obese” in its health and its wallet. Imagine how much more debt you could pay off with that $232/month.

    Still, a great article, very interesting to see how ALLY using the financial data they collect about you. 😉

  6. 13

    I live on my own and pay for everything myself, but my dad takes me out to eat like once or twice a month… other than that I don’t go out to eat at all. I’ve definitely spent less than $50 going out to restaurants in the past year.

  7. 15

    I think eating out is the biggest waste of money. It drives me nuts when my husband constantly eats out. He wasted around $300 a month just by himself, then we have no money for groceries. It’s very selfish. He goes to Jolts n Juice, gas stations, McDonald’s, and jack in the box. I have taken away his debit card to try to stop him from eating out and it makes him mad like I’m treating him like a kid. I don’t know what to do to make him stop doing this.

  8. 16

    I am in a relationship with someone who has a fast food addiction so we spend between 400 to 900 per month eating out. Because I cover 85% of all costs, I’m as much to blame because I enable the behavior and it negatively impacts my finances and my health. I’ve started attempting to reign in the spending and noticed that last month I got the number down to 433. But, it took a lot of effort on my part. Anyway, I am surfing the internet now trying to find a good estimate of how much is spent eating out. The 2500 amount seems unusually low. I wonder what the amount is for the average, middle class couple.

  9. 17
    Los Angeles

    My husband and I spend on average $650-$700/month eating out. Since I work swing shift and he works days, we meet for dinner each night, otherwise I would be home cooking. We consider our restaurant budget “Dining Out/Quality Time” – an investment we make in our relationship. Once I am back on a day shift, however, we will be eating many more meals at home and saving some $$!

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