Many restaurants were full this past Sunday for Mother’s Day. But according to a recent Gallup Poll, eating out has become a way of life for Americans, and not just on special occasions.

The mid-April poll found that three in four Americans had eaten dinner in a restaurant at least once in the week before the survey. Of those, 23 percent dined out twice and 29 percent ate out three or more times.

Just 23 percent said they didn’t eat out even once during the week, 4 percent fewer than people asked the same question two years ago.

Generally speaking, people with higher incomes eat out more often than those with lower incomes. Forty percent of people with an annual household income of $75,000-plus ate out three times or more in a week.

Only 19 percent of those earning less than $30,000 annually ate out more than three times weekly. Still, a majority of those with lower incomes dined out at least once in a week.

An exception to that trend, however, is among those aged 18-34. Though that group tended to have lower incomes than older adults, 37 percent had eaten out three times or more in the last week. That compared to 29 percent of those aged 35 to 54, and 24 percent of those 55 and older ate out as much.

But just because GenXers are dining out a lot doesn’t mean they are outspending baby boomers in restaurants.

While younger adults may spend a higher share of their food dollars on food away from home, people in their peak earning years (35 to 54) spend the most money on food outside the home. That means younger adults eat out more often, but baby boomers are dining out more lavishly,

Mother’s Day is the second-most popular occasion for dining out, behind birthdays, according to the National Restaurant Association. But since birthdays are spread throughout the year, the second Sunday in May is the biggest day of the year for restaurants. About 38 percent of Americans eat out on Mother’s Day.

The Gallup survey was based on telephone interviews April 14-16 with 1,011 adults, aged 18 and over, selected at random. The sampling margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent.

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