Price of Average Restaurant Meal Jumps

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Americans started spending more money eating out than they do on groceries for the first time this spring. But with prices like these, the trend might not last long.

The price of a meal prepared by a restaurant jumped 3 percent in May compared with one year prior, according to Bloomberg Business’ analysis of the latest Consumer Price Index published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The price of a home-cooked meal, on the other hand, increased by a more modest 0.6 percent over the same period. The cost of eating at home has not compared so favorably with the price of eating out since 2010.

Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh, tells Bloomberg that if this trend lingers — as was the case from May 2012 to April 2014 — there could be a “backlash” from consumers who decide to eat out less often.

Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial in Detroit, agrees. He tells Bloomberg that eating at home could become “more entrenched” despite the convenience of dining out, because many consumers constantly evaluate how to make the most of their money.

If Americans stop dining out so frequently, it would be bad news for restaurants but could bring good news for our wallets and waistlines.

A study out of the University of Illinois earlier this month found that eating at sit-down restaurants can lead to consuming more calories, fat and sodium than eating at home or even at fast-food chains. (To learn more, check out “Full-Service Restaurants Can Be Worse for Health Than Fast Food.”)

Have you noticed the increase in prices at restaurants? Will it affect how often you choose to eat out? Share your thoughts in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

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