The average UK household spent £483.60 a week in 2011 - the highest amount ever recorded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Last year's level was £10 higher than in 2010, due in part to increases in transport and housing costs.
However, although the average family's weekly spend hit a record high in cash terms last year, it actually fell when adjusted for inflation.
British households spent £498.20 in 2010 when adjusted for inflation, which means spending fell in real terms by 2.9% the following year.
In cash terms, the highest spend in 2011 was on transport, which rose by 80p to £65.70 per week, driven by hikes in petrol and diesel prices.
A rise in spending on cinema tickets, leisure classes and sporting events meant that recreation took up the next highest chunk of families' spending, at almost £64 a week.
Housing, fuel and power represented the third largest amount of households' spending at £63.30 a week in 2011 - a weekly increase of £2.90.
Rents were up by 70p to reach £40.60 and average spending on electricity, gas and other fuels was £22.10 per week - another increase of 70p.
But some types of household expenditure fell in 2011.
Spending on household goods and services was down by £4.10 to £27.30 a week, mainly due to a significant drop in the number of people buying furniture and clothing.
There was a small fall in expenditure on audio-visual equipment - including computers - which edged down by 90p to £6.30 a week.
London had the highest average spend - at £574.90 - driven by high housing and fuel costs.
Weekly spending was lowest in the North East, where the total came to £384.20, Wales with £398.20 and Yorkshire and the Humber with £410.10.
The ONS said there were "notable differences" in the way people of different incomes chose to spend their money.
The 10% of households with the lowest incomes spent a significantly larger proportion of their weekly total on housing, fuel and power, and food and non-alcoholic drinks than the 10% with the highest incomes.
Better-off households spent a greater proportion on transport and recreation and culture.
Differences in income also had an impact on internet access - with just four out of 10 low income families having the internet at home, compared with 99% of the highest income households.