Food-at-home Spending Drops Close to pre-COVID Levels

Following shifts in U.S. food spending during the COVID-19 pandemic, food-at-home spending was only 2.7 percent higher in November 2023 compared with November 2019. Food-away-from-home spending remained elevated at 14.6 percent higher, according to new data from USDA’s Economic Research Service.

After an initial jump in inflation-adjusted food-at-home spending in March through May 2020, the spending leveled off, averaging just 2.8 percent higher in December 2020 compared with 2019. Even as prices increased throughout 2021 and 2022, inflation-adjusted food-at-home spending also increased, with monthly spending in these years averaging 7.2 percent higher than the corresponding months in 2019. Food at home spending has trended back toward pre-pandemic levels since the peak difference of 9.5 percent in March 2022.

By contrast, food away-from-home spending initially fell during the pandemic but reversed quickly and outpaced 2019 spending starting in June 2021. Food at home spending peaked at 14.8 percent higher in March 2023 compared with March 2019.