Pop quiz: The residents of which country spend the lowest percentage of their household budget on food?
D) United Kingdom
E) United States
The correct answer may surprise you. It’s E.
The average American allocates a mere 6.6 percent of his or her household budget — less than any other country tracked — toward food eaten at home, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, which Vox has used to create an illustrative map and chart. When you add in food eaten in restaurants, that percentage rises slightly, to 11 percent.
The average person in Pakistan, meanwhile, allocates fully 47.7 percent of his or her household budget to food eaten at home. In Russia, China and the U.K., the averages are 31.6 percent, 26.9 percent, and 9.1 percent, respectively.
Egyptians spend 42.7 percent; Saudi Arabians, 25.8 percent; and Mexicans, 24.9 percent. The denizens of food-centric European countries Greece, Italy and France spend 16.5, 14.2 and 13.2 percent, respectively, on average.
Americans spend so little on food, relative to other expenses, partly because, as a wealthy nation, we can afford to spend money on other things. But, Vox notes, even in absolute dollar terms, we spend less on food eaten at home than other wealthy nations do. Here in the U.S. of A., the average person spends about $2,273 annually on food consumed at home, far less than people in Germany ($2,481), France ($3,037) and Norway ($4,485).
That disparity may have to do with agricultural subsidies, technological innovation and a tax system that, though it may not feel like it when we’re at the supermarket checkout counter, keeps consumer food prices down.
Of course, though it doesn’t prove it, the data doesn’t exactly scuttle the stereotype that we who live in the land of fast food like cheap grub. So to help do just that, let’s all drink champagne and eat lobster and caviar! Here are a few recipes using those ingredients that, though they seem luxurious, won’t break the bank. We are Americans, after all:
- Ina Garten’s Caviar Dip calls for cream cheese, sour cream, scallions, dill and “100 grams good salmon roe.”
- Giada De Laurentiis’ Champagne Risotto incorporates 3/4 cup of champagne — perfect for turning dinner into a splashy special occasion. Mix up a champagne cocktail to make the night really sparkle.
- Patrick and Gina Neely’s Grilled Lobster Tails with Herb Butter and Lobster Macaroni and Cheese are great for sharing. (Don’t be shellfish!)