Average UK Household Cost of Food

According to data from the Office of National Statistics, the average UK household spends £3,224 on groceries and £1,581 on restaurants and takeaways every year. As a result, in 2019 UK households spent 16% of their budgets on food and non-alcoholic drinks. Another 2.9% of budgets went to alcohol, which you can read more about in our related article Average Spending on Alcohol in the UK.

In this study we’ll show the breakdown of household home food budgets per week and per month across food categories, typical amounts spent eating out and finally how food & drink budgets change with income levels and family sizes. Food prices in the UK rose again last year, making this an important budget category.

Average Food Costs

The average annual food cost for a typical UK household was around £4,805 in 2019 (based on the average 2.4 people per household), including £276 spent on non-alcoholic drinks. The average weekly food cost for the typical UK household is £92, up 1% from 2018. (Note: for the purposes of this article, "food" includes non-alcoholic drinks but not alcoholic drinks.) Food cost as a percentage of the average UK household budget has remained steady for over fifteen years.

On average, we spend about 67% of our food budget on meals and snacks prepared and eaten at home, and we spend 33% of our food costs on eating out. That is, households spend on average £3,224 a year on food for home (about the same as the cost to run a car) and £1,581 on takeaways, restaurants, cafés, and snacks.

Average UK Food Spend, Annual and Weekly

Per PersonPer Household
WeeklyFood at Home£25.8£62
Food Out (e.g., restaurants, take away, etc.)£12.7£30
Total£38.5£92
Per YearFood at Home£1,343£3,224
Food Out (e.g., restaurants, take away, etc.)£659£1,581
Total£2,002£4,805
Chart showing Average Annual UK Spending on food, at home vs. outside the home, including takeaways
How Much we Spend per Year on Food at Home vs. Outside the Home

If you're wondering how much you should spend on food each week or month, below we break down weekly and monthly food bills for households of different sizes.

Average Food Costs per Week

  • Per Person: The average weekly food shop is £25.8 per person in the UK. When you add £12.7 spent on food prepared out (e.g., restaurants and takeaways), the average weekly food bill for 1 person is £38.5.
  • 2 Adults: The average weekly food bill for 2 adults is £77 in total—£51.7 spent on the weekly food shop and £25.3 spent on food out.
  • Family of 3: The average weekly food bill for a family of 3 is £115.5—77.5 spent on the weekly food shop and £38 spent on food out.
  • Family of 4: The typical family of 4 spends £154 each week on food—£103.3 on the weekly shop and £50.7 on restaurant and takeaway meals.
  • Family of 5: Larger families of 5 spend £129.2 on the weekly shop and another £63.3 on food prepared out, bringing the total average food bill for a family of 5 to £192.5.
Average Cost of Food per WeekGrocery ShoppingEating Food Prepared OutTotal Food Bill
Per Person£25.83£12.67£38.50
2 People£51.67£25.33£77.00
Family of 3£77.50£38.00£115.50
Family of 4£103.33£50.67£154.00
Family of 5£129.17£63.33£192.50
Chart showing average food spend per week UK
Average Food Cost per Week UK

Poll: How Much do You Spend on Food Each Week?

Participate in our poll so we can see how much people really spend on food and drink each week. Give us your best guess as to the average per person weekly food spending in your household, based on your food budget (include both groceries, take aways and meals out). Once you enter your answer the results will show so you can compare your spending to what other people have said they spend on food.

Average Food Costs per Month

  • Per Person: The average monthly food budget in the UK is £166.8 per person, of which £111.9 is spent on grocery shopping and £54.9 on food prepared out, such as takeaways and restaurant meals.
  • 2 Adults: The total food budget for 2 adults in the UK is twice this, or £333.7 per month—£223.9 on groceries and £109.8 on eating out.
  • 3 Adults: The average food bill for a family of 3 in the UK is £500.5 per month—£335.8 of which is spent grocery shopping and £164.7 on takeaways and restaurants.
  • 4 Adults: The average UK family of 4 spends £667.3 in total on food each month—£447.8 on grocery shopping bills and another £219.6 on food out.
Average Cost of Food per MonthGrocery ShoppingEating Food Prepared OutTotal Food Bill
Per Person£111.9£54.9£166.8
2 People£223.9£109.8£333.7
Family of 3£335.8£164.7£500.5
Family of 4£447.8£219.6£667.3
Family of 5£559.7£274.4£834.2
Chart showing average food spend per month UK
Average Food Cost per Month UK

FAQs

When deciding how much you should spend on food, it can help to know that a person’s average spend on food in the UK is £38.50 per week or £166.8 per month, including groceries, takeaways and restaurants. This is 16% of a typical household’s budget (more than we spend on housing!). Most people spend 2/3 of this food budget on groceries and the other 1/3 on eating food prepared out.

The average spend on food per person is £38.50 per week (£166.8 per month), including groceries and eating out. The average weekly food shop for 1 is £25.8 in the UK, plus we spend another £12.70 on eating out or ordering takeaways each week.

The average monthly food budget for 2 in the UK is £334; £224 of this is spent on groceries and £110 is spent on takeaways and restaurant meals. The average weekly shop for 2 adults in the UK costs £51.7.

The average monthly food budget for a family of 3 in the UK is £501; £336 of this is spent on groceries and £165 is spent on takeaways and restaurant meals. The average weekly shop for a family of 3 in the UK costs £77.5.

The average monthly food bill for a family of 4 in the UK is £667; £448 of this is spent on groceries and £220 is spent on food prepared out of the house. The average weekly grocery bill for a family of 4 in the UK is £103.3.

Average UK Household Budget for Food at Home is £3,224

We love our processed meat, the category that takes the biggest bite out of our household food budget. We spend a whopping 12% of our home food budget, or £343 a year, on sausages, bacon, ham and other processed meats. We spend a touch more on fresh fruit (£213/year, including £83 on berries alone) than we do on cakes, buns and biscuits (£203/year). We also spend more on fresh vegetables (£229/year) than we do on cakes and biscuits!

Non-alcoholic drinks is another large part of our food budget, consuming £276 a year, mostly on soft drinks. The categories that make up the largest proportions of the typical UK food budget at home would be familiar to most households:

Household Budget: Food at HomeWeekly AverageAnnual Average
Sausages, etc.£6.60£343
Bread, rice and cereals£5.50£286
Non-alcoholic drinks£5.30£276
Fresh vegetables£4.40£229
Fresh Fruit£4.10£213
Buns, cakes, biscuits, etc.£3.90£203
Fish£3.00£156
Other sauces, herbs, etc.£2.70£140
Potatoes and other tubers£2.50£130
Poultry£2.30£120
Yoghurt, etc£2.30£120
Milk£2.20£114
Cheese£2.10£109
Beef£1.90£99
Chocolate£2.10£109
Dried or frozen vegetables£1.80£94
Frozen, preserved & dried fruits and nuts£1.60£83
Butter, margarine, cooking oils, etc.£1.40£73
Bacon and ham£0.80£42
Pastry (savoury)£1.00£52
Confectionery products£0.80£42
Eggs£0.70£36
Pork£0.50£26
Lamb£0.60£31
Edible ices and ice cream£0.80£42
Pasta£0.40£21
Sugar£0.40£21
Jams£0.30£16
Total Spend: Household Food at Home£62.00£3,224

Average UK Household Budget for Food Outside the Home is £1,581

Dining out at restaurants and cafés eats up the largest piece of our out-of-house food budget, costing the average household £1,009 a year, with takeaways and snacks costing us £572 per year.

Household Budget: Food Spend Outside the HomeWeekly AverageAnnual Average
Restaurant and café meals£18.6£967
Take away meals eaten at home£5.10£265
Other take-away and snack food£5.10£265
Canteens & Catering£2.20£114
Total Spend: Household Food Outside the Home£30.80£1,602

How Does Food & Drink Spending Vary across Income Groups?

The highest earning households with disposable (after-tax) incomes over £63,000 per year spend 4.2 times as much per year on food and alcoholic drinks compared to the lowest earning families with incomes under £10,000.

Relative to average, lower earning households spend a significant amount more of their food budget on processed meats and milk. The highest earning households spend a significant amount less than average on processed meats and more on fresh vegetables. Not surprisingly, the lowest income groups spend the highest proportion of their total household budget on food and drinks: 21%. We all need to eat and this budget area can only be cut so much. As a result, a higher percentage of disposable income must go towards the food budget for the lowest earners.

Chart showing how weekly food budgets increase with rising incomes, and the percentages of food spending out of total budget
Weekly Food Budgets Increasing with Rising Incomes

Wealthier families spend a greater proportion of their total food and drink budget—44%—on food and drink away from home, which includes restaurant meals and takeaways. Those on smaller budgets tend to save money by eating at home more, spending 75% of their food and drink budgets for consumption at home and only 25% of their food and drink budgets out at restaurants and on take aways.

Chart showing what percent of food and drink budgets are spent out of the home, by disposable income decile.
% of Food and Drink Budgets Spent Dining Out

In terms of actual spending, you can see how weekly food and drink budgets increase as disposable incomes rise. The wealthier dine out more, the budget-conscious eat at home more.

Chart showing average weekly UK food spending across disposable income decile groups, by food at home, restaurants excluding alcohol, and restaurants including alcohol
Average Weekly Food & Drink Spending (at home and out) by Disposable Income Group

Shortcomings

To calculate food for different household sizes, we first divided the average spending for a household by the average number of people in a household (2.4) to get a per person food budget. Then we multiplied these per-person figures by the relevant household size to find the budget for different families.

This doesn't take into account different food needs for family members of different ages, nor does it take into account savings that larger families can achieve by buying in bulk. If you have people in your family who eat less (e.g., a small child) or are an efficient shopper who takes advantage of buying in bulk (e.g., to feed a large family) then keep this in mind when comparing your own spending to the figures presented here.

Cheap Eats: How to Save on Food

Whatever your food budget, you can probably borrow some tips from thrifty households to reduce costs down even further. Try to work these methods into your family’s food plan.

1. Cook at home

It does take more time, but cooking and eating at home can save loads of money over the long run. Consider that the actual cost of food for a restaurant meal is less than a third of what you pay for it. The rest of the money you spend at a restaurant goes to other costs like labor and overhead. If you cook at home, you only pay the food cost, and pocket the rest. Team up with your partner, child or a friend to create great food and memories.

2. Stock up on staples

Buy big. Packages, that is. Stores usually charge less per unit (kg, litre, etc.) when you buy more at a time. This means that a 2 kg bag of rice will cost less per kilo than a 0.5 kg bag of rice. If you live near a warehouse store like Costco, consider becoming a member. There you'll have a better chance of finding the largest food packages (e.g., American sizes).

3. Swap pricey proteins or goods for cheaper ones

Ground beef costs less per pound than steaks. Chicken thighs cost less than chicken breasts (and are juicier!). Include lots of dried beans into your meals to add protein and fill your family. Be on the look out for discounted food that the grocery store needs to sell that day due to an impending expiration date—just be sure to cook it ASAP!

Another way to reduce your food budget is by taking a look at your nonalcoholic beverages spend. The average UK family spends a whopping 8% of their at-home food budget on coffee, tea, juices, mineral/sparkling water and sodas. While we'd never suggest eliminating your daily cuppa (coffee and tea aren't the budget problem anyway), there is really no room for soda, juice and fancy water in a tight budget. We have two words for you: tap water.

If you don't like the taste of the life-saving liquid that flows plentifully from your tap, try squeezing in some lemon or boiling it into tea. We try to keep a pitcher of homemade iced herbal tea in the fridge—tastes great, cheap and has no sugar or sugar substitutes. Buying cappuccino at chains like Starbucks or Costa everyday, while convenient, can easily total £1,000 a year, based on our calculations. Instant coffee with a dash of cinnamon or chocolate on top is an easy and impressive alternative.

Food and drink may be necessary for life, but a few small tweaks can help you spend less on them.

Comparing Food Spend to Other Areas of the Budget

While food is clearly a large budget item, there are a few categories that take an even larger bite of the average annual household budget. The average UK household also spends over £4,750 on transportation costs (including related insurance) and a whopping £10,600 on all things housing. Our largest utility cost is gas and electricity. The average UK household spent another £1,360 per year on gas and electricity in 2019. The cost to light, heat and run our homes accounts for close to 5% of our household budgets each year.

If your household buys in bulk to save money and keeps a large store of food in the freezer, especially expensive items like meat, you might want to check your home insurance policy to see if freezer contents are covered. Policies that include freezer food will reimburse you up to a certain amount (e.g., £1,000) if, for instance, you lose the contents of your freezer due to an electrical failure or your freezer breaking down.

Note: Updated in May 2020 to reflect the most recent 2019 Living Costs and Food Survey from the ONS.

Sources:

Office of National Statistics Household size from the Office of National Statistics

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