How Much Do You Spend on Eating Out Each Month?

We haven’t done a survey in a while, so let’s do one now. How much do you spend on eating out every month? I specifically used “eating out” rather than “at restaurants” because I’d like to include those times you pick up a bagel in the morning, or a sandwich during lunch. I typically don’t eat breakfast (or have something fast like a banana), and bring sandwiches for lunch, but I also pick up coffee every day, and go out for lunch about once a week. Most of my eating out occurs during the weekend. According to my bank charges, my spending ranges from $150 to $250 each month, so I’m going to say my typical spending on eating out is about $200 a month. What’s your typical spending?

Photo: Kai Chan Wong

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97 Comments / Post A Comment

snackcarts (#3,300)

I budget $100/month but always end up going over – some months by a few dollars, other months by at least $100-$200. On average, I probably spend about $200/month.

I used to spend all my money on material goods in high school and college and was able to mostly cure myself of that habit post-college, but now all that saved money tends to go toward eating out. I work in an office by myself most of the time (my boss is in maybe 2-3 hours a day) and eating lunch out is honestly the only time I’ll see other people for the majority of my working day, so I consider it a worthwhile cost. I usually eat out on weekends with friends at least once or twice as well, it’s one of my big vices.

terrific (#1,532)

About $150.

thematt (#1,017)

$530 on average over the last year ($440ish for restaurant meals and takeout, $80ish for lunch etc.). I guess that’s a lot.

highjump (#39)

@thematt Come sit by me.

RocketSurgeon (#747)

If we’re just talking about food, on a normal week, I eat breakfast with a cup of coffee at home each morning and pack my lunch at least 4/5 days. So $10/week for lunch if I buy one day or go out with coworkers. Restaurants/take out is trickier. I try to cook most of the time, but I still end up going out once or twice a week. I pay if I’m out to meet friends. Husband normally pays if we’re going out together. My spending is probably $300 a month, including food and drinks. If drinks only at bars are included, tack on another $50ish.

This month has been particularly bad because we’re both traveling a lot, and home cooking is the first thing to go when we’re busy. Also, our refrigerator has been dead for the last week and we’re waiting on a replacement, so there’s no place to keep leftovers at the moment.

lhorntx (#2,302)

@RocketSurgeon I’d definitely like to see a survey about how much people set aside/have left for fun money! I know that eating out would be a part of that, but I’m interested in the overall number.

RocketSurgeon (#747)

@lhorntx That would definitely be interesting. I guess I consider “fun money” everything that’s left over after my pretax payroll contributions, I’ve made my savings deposits, paid my loans/rent and credit cards in full. I sort of buy all the monthly consumer items, groceries, restaurants, wine, etc. all from what’s leftover.

@lhorntx I budget $385 every month for fun stuff, and usually end up spending around that – maybe a little overbudget in a couple categories, underbudget in a couple others. Here’s how I break it down:

$60 experiences (movie/show tickets)
$40 coffee/snacks
$200 eating/drinking out
$25 stationery/gift
$60 shopping/stuff

I break coffee/snacks up from eating/drinking out because one I generally do alone as a quick break from my day, the other I do socially to spend time with friends. I’m usually about $100 over on eating out, but I usually wind up underbudget on the other categories so it about balances out.

sea ermine (#122)

I honestly have no idea. Basically I set aside $200 of fun money each month and while I don’t have to divide it up equally I usually just give myself an allowance of $50 a week so I don’t overspend. This is for fun money, which means it’s for anything that isn’t bills, rent, loans, and the appropriate amount of grocery store food that I need to feed myself. Right now my boyfriend is unemployed so I use the fun money so we can do things together/treat him to stuff.

I love eating out so I usually eat out once a week, and spend between $20-30 a person, including tip (so $40-60 total if I’m going out with my boyfriend). I don’t ever eat lunch out (unless I forgot my packed lunch which is very very rare) or buy coffee and I try to avoid buying vending machine stuff and snacks so that I can use my fun money for generally fun stuff like museums and concerts and real restaurants (as opposed to my workplace cafeteria).

If we count booze (like getting drinks with friends at a bar) into eating out I’d say that my eating out is probably about 50% of my fun money, so like $100. Sometimes more. When my boyfriend gets a job it will probably stay at $100 and I’ll just eat out more or go to nice places.

ATF (#4,229)

Wow. I don’t think I want to tally this up. I live in the city and we go out to eat a lot. At least 3-4 times a week for dinner. I am going to cry once I tally the number. :/

I also think I’ll wait until I’m home tonight and can look over my excel sheet of expenses to tally it up. I’d like to be honest.

Panamanda (#2,713)

@ATF I’m with you. I’m a little scared to see that total tally looking me in the face….

middleagedamy (#4,423)

Over the past year, I’ve averaged $96/month. I usually buy lunch about once a week and eat dinner out once or twice during the week. I also treat my boyfriend to dinner out about once a month.

The numbers get skewed a little to the low side because three or four weeks out of the year, I’m traveling for work, so none of those meals come out of my personal budget. Also, I usually take a week vacation and consider those meals part of my travel budget.

s. dekker (#3,301)

I would say I buy fast food maybe 1x/week (avg $6), and I go out to eat at sit down restaurants maybe 1x/week (avg $15 w/tip). So $6+$15 x 4 = $84

That’s not counting the occasional drink. I used to treat my family out 1x/week ($50-60 for all of us, they’d do the tip) when I got my first real job because they helped me so much, but I’ve been scaling that back to only occasionally (birthdays and such) since I’m saving for a house and other things.

Dinosaur_Senior (#1,526)

I buy my lunch (av $7-$10) every day at work and eat out probs 2x a month. I’d say $300.

Li'l Sebastian (#3,297)

According to my budget software, I’ve spent $232 on eating out since the beginning of February, so that’s about $42/month.

Blondsak (#2,299)

Eating out is my Achilles Heel when it comes to saving. We rarely go out for dinner, but we usually do takeout/delivery of something every weekend + I typically buy lunch 3x/wk. I’m going to estimate $300.

jennknee (#3,899)

I poured tea all over my previous laptop, so I lost all my budget tracking spreadsheets (they were making me sad anyway). I spend about $50/mo on coffee and food at coffee houses, which I would put into this eating out category.

During the week I usually only buy lunch once a week ($6-$10) and like $5 worth of snacks. I’ll eat dinner out one to three times a week, so it’ll vary from $15 to $50 dollars a week. However, when it comes to celebrations like birthday dinners etc it kills my budget. We also throw in one fancy restaurant or so a month. All in all, probably around $300 a month, more or less. Way too much really considering I buy groceries too!!

tw0lle (#4,354)

My budget in Mint.com is $112/month, but I notice I’ve been overspending by at least $50 (and underspending on groceries by like $100-150). So I think $200/month is a conservative estimate, especially if you include drinks/snacks at bars, which often serve as dinner and are often paid for in cash.

I think in NYC it’s more difficult to visit friends at their apartments, so I look at restaurant and bar bills as partially a “rental” charge for communal space. That said, I’m always trying to eat out less because it always takes a big chunk out of my budget each month.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

According to Mint, I’ve been averaging about $250 per month. That’s coffee shops, egg sandwiches, lunches out, delivery, and eating in restaurants. All of those categories. Not terrible, not great, but food is important to me and I budget for this.

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

Around $50 at most? I consider it a weekly treat for when I’m sick of what I made and I prefer going to cheaper places.

Lily Rowan (#70)

About $250/month, mostly for lunch.

We eat out during the week probably once a month, and maybe 1.5 times on average during the weekends. Call it $40 each time (we go to inexpensive places and rarely order wine/appetizers/dessert, but always tip well). So probably 7 times a month times $40, which is $280.

Wow. We can afford it, but do we want to, really? On the weekends we’re often eating out because we’re out & about & hungry, not to catch up with friends or try a new place. If we just packed a lunch for our weekend excursions, we’d probably save $50/month.

echolikebells (#3,272)

This is super embarrassing, but when I started using Mint, it told me I had been averaging about $400 a month. That was lunch every day at work and dinner frequently out. As soon as I became aware of that, I cut my budget down to $160 as a goal. I’ve been exceeding it, but the past two months, I’ve managed to stayed under $185, and I have no plans of changing that. I haven’t bought lunch out on a work day in three weeks!

Mint tells me $88 a month, but that doesn’t count the twice-monthly dinner at the grocery deli before I do my shopping, so I’m going to round up and guess about $100. That is both more than I was anticipating and kind of upsetting, so I’m glad I bothered to check! Stop eating out, self!

Crabtree (#774)

In a bad month I spend about $320 (because all my fun involves food or drinks), and on average I spend $250. I forget to make my lunch/dinner for work at least once a week = $10-$20 each week depending on how often I do it. I don’t buy coffee but I do like to go out for drinks or dessert with friends when I have a chance. All of my friend meet-ups involve some kind of food item. When I visit my boyfriend he never has food because he works 80 hours a week, so I end up buying all my/our meals (takeout or restaurants) until we buy groceries. This will all change in September when we move in together. Then there will be groceries in the house.

Crabtree (#774)

@Crabtree but this is not scientific since I found that Mint just does not work for me. Hopefully I spend less.

muush (#521)

It would be really helpful if instead of just giving a number, people could say how much they’re spending as a % of their monthly take-home. I mean, two people could spend the same Dollar amount on eating out and have vastly different incomes– without a frame of reference, we don’t have a clear picture of how much they’re really spending. I’ll start: I spend about 15% of my take-home on eating out every month.

@muush Good idea. I also spend about 15% of my take-home income on eating out (includes: restaurants, bodegas, snacks, coffee, order-in.)

Blondsak (#2,299)

@muush 10% of take-home goes to eating out for me.

Crabtree (#774)

@muush Going with my worst months, 12% of my take-home goes to non-grocery food items.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@muush I’m spending around 12% of my take-home on eating out.

hellonheels (#1,407)

@muush Good idea! I spend about 10% of my take-home pay eating out, on average. When you put it that was it doesn’t sound so bad!

echolikebells (#3,272)

@muush My old habits were about 30% of my take-home (so embarrassing!), but the past two months I’ve managed about 13%.

sea ermine (#122)

@muush Mine is about 4% but it varies. My fun spending total (including eating out) is about 8% of my takehome pay, and it’s mostly for food and booze.

@muush My take-home pay is about $3300, and I spend a little more than 10% of that eating out (restaurants, bars, coffee/froyo, takeout) every month.

Stina (#686)

@muush 3.57% about

loren smith (#2,300)

$82 last month on a delivery pizza, appies and beers at the pub, and beers at another pub. I rarely (maybe once every two months) buy coffee or lunch at work because I’m so cognizant of the cost. I’m lucky in that I’m a pretty darn good cook, as is my husband, so we really prefer to eat in most of the time. Usually we drink our beers in the park, so I’m sort of surprised there were two pub charges. In deference to @muush, that’s 3.5% of my net.

highjump (#39)

According to mint.com my averages for the past six months for the ‘eating out’ categories are:
Restaurants: $288
Fast Food: $65
Alcohol and Bars: $177
TOTAL: $530/month

Allllll of my monies go to eating out/going out.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@highjump How do you get an average for a category on Mint? I feel stupid every time I try. What am I missing?

readyornot (#816)

@bgprincipessa Go to trends, pick spending: over time. Then from the drop down menu over the bar graph pick the time frame you want.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@readyornot OMG thank you, you have no idea how many ways I tried to do that.

readyornot (#816)

@bgprincipessa no problem! Trends is, like, the most useful thing about Mint to me, happy to share the, er, wealth.

andnowlights (#2,902)

I’d say $50 on average. We don’t go out much because of budget stuff and I cook a lot, so dinner out is really for those nights that I DO NOT want to cook, which means I also don’t want to go out anywhere fancier than Chipotle or 5 Guys.

HOWEVER, in August, we got reservations for the Catbird Seat and that’s going to run us $400+. Gulp. We’re also going to start eating out more once this student loan is paid off, because Nashville has AWESOME restaurants and we’re only here for 2 more years.

I usually budget $150 but almost always hit $200-$230. So I’m going to say $215/month. This includes all restaurants, coffee-to-go, morning bagels, afternoon impulse-buy snacks, etc.

This does not include beer/wine/cocktails: I have a separate category for alcohol!

Trilby (#191)

For me, usually $0.00. So zero% on dining out. It’s not something I choose to spend my money on. I buy take-out/delivery probably 1-2 times per week. Also, when I work late, the firm gives me $20 to spend on Seamless Web. That’s it.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@Trilby I definitely counted take-out/delivery in my count- Mike specifically said eating out, not eating at restaurants.

@Trilby I would think “eating out” includes takeout, drinks, coffee, etc.

Christy (#3,892)

Well, in early June I treated gf and me to a $400 dinner. But this month, it’s been $160. That’s gf and I behaving ourselves, and we split 50/50.

faustbanana (#2,376)

$250 if my very iffy “guesstimation” skills are to be believed (they are not.)

Gretchen Alice (#1,453)

I have $50 a month in my personal budget. (In all honesty, though, the boyfriend pays when we go out to eat, so I’m eating at restaurants more often than my budget would suggest.)

@Gretchen Alice I’m in this boat as well, at least when I’m living with my boyfriend (as I am now). Back to the shoestring grad student budget in September, no more of this wild frivolity.

breakfast (#633)

OK, my initial calculations (looking at my bank account for the last month and adding everything that I remember being from a food place) put me at $220, lets round that up to $250 for the times I used cash and have since completely forgotten about the purchases. I wouldn’t be surprised if I actually spend more.

breakfast (#633)

@breakfast And I just calculated, this works out to about 17% of my (current-summers are slow) earnings. OK! I know where to cut spending!

lisaf (#3,089)

I eat lunch out once per week (so $40) and very rarely get coffee or a bagel on the run (maybe $10/month). I go out to eat once or twice a month with friends, so on a high month that’s another $50. Total: $100

lisaf (#3,089)

Also, can we do one on how much you spend on fitness/sports/athletic recreation?

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@lisaf hahahaha, that one would be $0 for me, for sure!

bgprincipessa (#699)

I can’t decide whether we were supposed to include any coffee that we buy out, so I’m excluding it because in my budgeting I keep those separate. For fast food and restaurants, my average is about $160/month (rounded up because Mint is including July in that, but it isn’t over yet! and for cash sometimes). That is about 8% of my net income monthly.

noelle (#998)

i spend about $175/month, mostly on brunch or dinner. luckily, i get lunch paid for by my work, otherwise my spending would be much higher.

cjm (#3,397)

Mint says I average $152 a month. It’s probably a little more than that since sometimes I use cash which I then don’t categorize. Honestly, I thought it would be much worse. I probably eat out for lunch 2-3 times a week including weekends, and dinner 2-3 times a week including weekends. So, that averages out to about $10 a meal. It is a lot, but I’m comfortable with it.

clairapluie (#805)

I just calculated everything out and in general, food/booze (no matter if it’s grocery or going out) was $440 last month, about 15% of take-home. Is that okay? Yikes, probably not. It’s around $15/day.

I average probably $150-$200. The neighborhood around my new job doesn’t have any fast lunch places, only sit-down places that are like $10-12, so I have set myself a limit of once per week out. And I try not to go out to dinner or drinks alone, mostly as a cost-saving measure, so I mostly only spend on restaurants on weekends and once or twice in a week with a friend.

I got a job like six weeks ago and I’ve been trying really hard to use Mint and budget better, but I’m still figuring out what my budget should be with this income. So in a few more weeks I will probably be able to give more accurate numbers for the next survey!

Lindy (#4,428)

Excluding groceries (which leaves Take Out, Restaurants, and Coffee Shops), my spouse and I are spending around 9% of our monthly gross pay on eating out so far in 2013. In dollars, that’s $1150/month.

Slutface (#53)

Nothing the last month or so because I’ve been dating and the guys are super nice and always pay. Thanks guys!

emmabee (#2,008)

I spend about $250/month on restaurants/coffee shops/take out (everything in my “food” category, not counting drinks and groceries.) That’s probably about accurate? Maybe a little low, since some of what I categorize as “bars” definitely includes food as well. I spend about $600/month on eating and drinking overall, which is a little under 25% of my take-home pay.

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

$88.27 between today and June 16th.

I’ve been really good about bringing my lunch to work and besides there’s nothing particularly good around my office to eat, so my most consistent “eating out” purchases are breakfast on the weekends and the occasional cup of coffee at work plus one or two dinners out.

hellonheels (#1,407)

This is a tough question! Cooking and dining out are my primary hobbies, so three or four times a year I will splurge on a serious blowout meal the extravagance of which would horrify most budget conscious people (full disclosure: I once spent over $700 on dinner at a Michelin three-star while in Europe on business). But in a more typical month, I spend about $250, on maybe one medium-nice restaurant dinner ($50-75), a couple casual meals out ($25-40), and a small assortment of everyday things, mostly coffee with a sandwich or some tacos thrown in here and there. So averaging it out, I’d say about $325, though most months are closer to $200-$250.

It sounds like a lot, and I guess it is, but again, food is my hobby. If I compare my dining out expenditure to, say, what my boyfriend spends playing golf 3-4 times a month, it is pretty even.

hellonheels (#1,407)

@hellonheels Oh damn, are we counting alcohol out too? Hold the presses…if that’s the case, let’s say $400 on average.

planforamiracle (#4,034)

This is something I find really difficult to track, partly because it’s usually cash spending, and also partly because the dining-out occasions sometimes end in drunkenness or situations where tracking spending is the last thing on my mind. So even though I have a tracking app on my phone, it rarely comes out after dark.

Dining out is also something I have consciously made a priority to spend rather little on, since I like to cook and I spend sort of a lot on groceries and kitchen things.

My guesstimate in a month is about $160.

EmilyAnomaly (#4,238)

@planforamiracle what tracking app do you use?

Based on some rough guesses I’m going to say around $400. A good chunk of that is from a latte every morning on workdays, breakfast and/or lunch at work at least a couple times and occasional ordering in for dinner or eating out.

I should reeeeeallly learn to start packing lunch/breakfast to work. That would probably chop off a good $150 – $200 off of that. The coffee and dinners out and take-out when I just don’t have it in me to cook are nice and i think those are worth it for me at this time. The stupid breakfast and lunches mostly are that exciting and a result of me not getting around to packing food.

Dancercise (#94)

I just looked at the last 4 months, and it averages out to about $60/month. I usually eat lunch out once a week, get an afternoon tea or snack a few times a month, and eat dinner out once or twice a month.

AnnieW (#2,913)

Mint says $174 on average. Ugh! Too much. Though that is EVERYTHING out..restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, and bar nights.

I blame still being relatively “new” to city life..I walk a lot and am easily distracted by the all the lovely places to eat and drink. Plus, food is my favorite way to explore — bored on the weekend? Let’s try a new restaurant! Etc. Dumb.

CaddyFdot (#2,686)

About $330. Average over the last 5 months for restaurants/occasional bar = $250, average for cafeteria at work = $80.

EmilyAnomaly (#4,238)

According to Mint I spent $176 on eating out in June, though that amount includes buying iced coffee (since I consider it a food luxury item). That is pretty close to average (though I budget $150) but July will be higher because I am crashing at my boyfriend’s place due to a bat infestation at my apartment and he won’t let me pay rent so I have just been buying him dinner.

calamity (#2,577)

According to Mint, each month I spent about $75 on restaurants and $130 on “fast food” (which I use as a catch-all for anything takeout as well as workweek lunches, 90% of which I buy). Of course, this excludes anything I paid for with cash, so … maybe $250 a month?

I used to bring my lunch to work more often, but I am simply incapable of putting together anything better than a sad sandwich or a frozen meal, and since I’ve recently mostly cut out frozen food that doesn’t leave much variety for me. I judge myself for this, yes. (The never bringing my lunch, not the cutting out of frozen meals.)

I hope this doesn’t include nights out at bars because I’d have even more to judge myself for then … Mint says I spend about $100 a month there, which is YIKES because God knows how much cash I spend on top of that. Oh alcohol, you cruel, cruel friend of mine.

Typically I spend around $300 per month eating and drinking out. Notable exception: March of this year, when my former company was reorganizing my department, and I spent a whopping $495 and also started looking for a new/better/different job.
February – $267
March – $495
April – $182
May – $297
June – $273

July thus far – $102

@Holden Cauliflower Note that this number does not include my “Coffee/Snacks” category, on which I usually spend a little less than $40 every month.

Stina (#686)

$200 as a couple for both joint and separate purchases, but mostly once a week dinner out. But when we do eat out we go to cheaper places but get the drinks, appetizers, dessert etc. $100 divided by 2, though I had to guess a bit about how much my husband buys on his own.

Taylor (#1,339)

Probably about $150. That breaks down to like $80/month for workweek lunch/coffee, which I try to keep to once a week for each (home coffee and packed lunch the rest of the time.) Then I have the splitting-as-a-couple thing for many meals out on evenings and weekends- we trade off, and eat out probably once a week on average, plus there’s the occasional meal with other friends, but without significant other, where obviously I pay for myself.

joyballz (#2,000)

About $200 a month. Generally not including alcohol.

Sloane (#675)

My overall food budget is $300/month, and I try to keep groceries at $200/month, and restaurants/bar at $100. I buckled down on restaurant/bar expenses about a year ago. Eating out for lunch has never been an issue for me, and I make my own coffee at home. So that just leaves drinks and dinner out, but those can be pretty expensive. I cook for and with friends now, which is cheaper for all of us!

$200-$250 a month. And that includes EVERYTHING that’s not brought from home (bars, restaurants, starbucks, starbucks-card-reloads, blah-di-blah-blah blah)

Beaks (#3,488)

About $250-280 a month for two people, excluding eating out while traveling (that goes into the vacation pool), but including pretty much everything else. That’s basically eating out 1-2 nights a week- we do all weekday breakfasts and lunches eaten at or packed from home. And our grocery bill reflects that…

limenotapple (#1,748)

400-450 a month for husband and me. And worth every penny. If one of us lost our income, I’m sure this would be the first thing to go, but since we save a ton of money each month, I feel really good about leaving work every day to go get lunch and taking a break from cooking when I need one.

anarchivist (#3,768)

$30 tops? I’m extremely smug about my cooking skills and have a hard time finding something at a restaurant that I don’t feel like I could have made better. Also, I’m vegan so options are limited. I get some veg sushi about once a month and call it quits.

e (#734)

$270 average, includes bars and coffee. Down from $360 last year.

srmattew (#3,434)

Excluding an extravagant goodbye dinner, I spent $225 on eating out, which is about 15% of my spending money. Spending money is take home pay after excluding rent, utilities, savings, and my student loan payment.

When I’m not living with my boyfriend (a summer/winter thing as I’m a grad student and he has a real job elsewhere) I spend probably $150/month. This is kind of embarrassing considering my tiny grad stipend, but I do a lot of my work in coffee shops and often grab food with classmates for needed group therapy/de-stressing time, so I think it’s pretty important. I try to purposely scale back my grocery budget with these meals in mind.

cawcawphony (#2,990)

Another low one! $90 average over the last 6 months. I got out maybe once/week for dinner, and very rarely for lunch.

cawcawphony (#2,990)

@cawcawphony With alcohol/bars (this includes liquor store purchases though) $137/month. So guesstimating $115 not including liquor stores.

John von Doe (#1,817)

$2300 last month. Usually about $1500.

kentuckygal (#4,294)

$154 per month.

the rat lady (#785)

$30/month. I would like this number to be higher, because I love food, but: graduate school.

UrbanGarlic (#4,303)

This is when my Birdy comes in handy… I can tell you exact amounts, to the cent, since January 2012!

Not boring you with the details but the average is $164.85, varying crazily based on which city I happen to be in any given month.

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