We show that as household size increases, households substitute away from prepared foods and towards ingredients. They also devote more time to food preparation. These observations (1) are consistent with a simple model with home production, returns to scale in the time input to food preparation, and varieties of food that differ in the required time input; (2) support the idea that returns to scale in home production are an important source of returns to scale in consumption; and (3), mean that across household sizes, household market expenditures on food are not proportional to food consumption quantities. The latter may provide a partial explanation for a puzzle raised by Deaton and Paxson.
Household returns to scale home production food preparation