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To Cook or Not to Cook, That Is the Question…For Your Wallet

Personal Insights

The age-old question of “Is it cheaper to eat out than cook at home?” really depends on several factors: the type of restaurant, how many are eating, and the cost to eat the same meal at home.

A Typical Family of Four Versus Singles

Now, for singles, grabbing a $1 burger off the fast food list may be cheaper than fixing that same burger at home, but no one can or should live off of fast food 24/7. For a family of four, a burger, fries, a drink, and a dessert at a mid-priced restaurant is more than the cost to make that same meal at home. Let’s look at an example.

Applebee’s, that famous family restaurant, sells a classic bacon cheeseburger, fries, fruit punch, and a brownie for a total of $19.27, for one person. Multiply that by 4 people and the price, before tax or tip, hovers around $80.00, $77.08 to be exact. Now, if you were to buy the exact same ingredients to make that same meal, at Publix you would spend:

  • Meat $7.17
  • Cheese $2.50
  • Buns $3.35
  • Bacon $2.50
  • Lettuce $1.19
  • Tomato $1.32
  • Onions $1.27
  • Pickles $2.65
  • French Fries $3.65
  • Brownies (Chocolate Chip Gourmet Style) $6.09
  • Fruit Punch $2.19

For a grand total of $33.83 for a family of four. No tip needed. This also includes that items such as the lettuce, pickles, or onions can be used at other times for other meals. That’s less than half the price of going out to eat. Other items eaten out, such as steak or seafood, can be double or triple the price of fixing that same meal at home.

The nutritional value of eating out is set by the cook. When fixing a meal at home, you control the amount of sugar or salt added to the meal.

Make Coffee at Home

The cost of a cup of coffee at a coffee chain is staggering compared to the price of making that exact same cup of coffee at home! Even if you can’t give up your favorite brand of coffee bean, purchasing a coffee grinder, buying the beans whole, and brewing a cup before you walk out the door, can save hundreds of dollars per month!

Think with Your Wallet and Not Your Stomach

Give your wallet some down time and fix meals at home. Set a limit on how often to eat out based on family goals. Saving for a new car?  Try eating at home or fixing lunch to take to work instead of eating out and you may save hundreds of dollars per month.

It can be tempting to grab a quick bite or convince yourself that you just don’t have time to cook. However, with a little planning and an hour of shopping once a week, you can end up saving hundreds of dollars every month by cooking at home instead of eating out. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you for it.

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