Food budgets vary dramatically from one person to another, depending on the quality of food purchased, quantity consumed and frequency of dining out. A single person should set a food budget that is in line with his income and dietary preferences while keeping the national averages in mind as a guideline.
The United States Department of Agriculture publishes statistics on the national average food budget for individuals who prepare all meals at home. In June of 2010, which is the month that best represents the annual average for 2010, a thrifty budget for single people ages 19 to 50 was £30.1 per week for men and £26.8 per week for women. The lavish budget for this age group was £59.8 per week for men and £53.4 per week for women.
Eating meals in restaurants significantly increases the amount of money spent on food. A single person who spends £5.2 on lunch every weekday is spending £26.00 per week just on lunches. Eating out for dinner is often even more expensive. Although it can be tempting as a single person to go out to eat instead of cooking a meal for one at home, there are ways to encourage eating meals at home. One idea is to have a friend over for dinner two nights per week and eat at that friend's house two nights per week. This shares cooking duties on those nights and makes eating at home more fun.
Setting a Budget
Individuals across all demographics typically spend about 10 per cent of their net income on food, according to the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. However, single people living alone might be spending a higher percentage of their income on housing than married people would, which means less money is available for food. Therefore, a single person might have to aim to spend less than 10 per cent of his overall budget on food. On the flip side, buying food as a single person can be more expensive than for a family because large packages are cheaper than small ones. Single people should track their spending to come up with a workable food budget.
Singles can save money by strategically buying in bulk, even when they are the only one eating the food. For example, because bags of fruit are typically less expensive than individual pieces, buy just one bag of fruit at a time and focus on eating it all before it spoils. For variety, buy a different type of fruit the next time. When purchasing meat, select cheaper cuts in value packages and freeze whatever cannot be eaten in the next few days. Use more groceries before they spoil by making an extra 3/4 portion of each dinner meal and taking it to work the next day for lunch.