October 19 2010|07.34 AM UTC

Samantha Eckles

Dining On A Budget

Category: SavingsTags: , , , ,

Is it cheaper to eat at home… or go out?  This elusive question is never easy to answer, as the actual “cost” of a meal depends on what is most valuable to you: your money, your time, or your health.  Although each of these values can be widely subjective, the financial cost and calorie counts can be a bit more concrete.  The infographic below takes a look at how eating at home compares to dining out:

click to enlarge

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Rife October 19, 2010 at 10:53 am

The problem with the at-home prices is that they’re excluding that you’re actually going to buy more raw materials than you’ll actually use. So the 6″ pizza really cost about $19 make at home, unless you plan on making 10 of them before the raw materials expire.


Chefolicious October 19, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Six in one hand and half a dozen in the other, unless it’s a baker’s dozen. Anyway, I wouldn’t rely on these charts and analysis unless they take into account the following:
1) cost of purchase and portions leftover – wastage as Ryan indicated. Use the apportioned cost in the calculations;
2) associated costs of you cooking at home (gas, electricity, clean-up, water, wiping cloths, dishwashing, etc);
3) time – cost, how much is your time worth? You could be doing something else instead.

Read these articles, charts and analysis with a huge pinch of salt and get real and granular about it. They usually don’t take account of many of these things.

I also agree with comments from the Laughing Buddha below.


Travis October 19, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Thank you! My point exactly… I hate when people tell me to cook instead. It ends up costing so much more in the end.


Anonymous October 20, 2010 at 2:17 am

soooooooo right!


Anonymous October 20, 2010 at 12:17 pm

$19! What, are you putting caviar on that pizza!? Puh-leeze
Dough – $2, Cheese – $3, Sauce – $2. $7, and you can use the left over cheese and sauce for something else.


the Laughing Buddha October 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

What is not taken into account on the home cooked meals…
Natural gas or electrical consumption in food preparation.
Ingredients acquisition costs including gas to and from store, waste when only feeding 1 or 2, tax
Costs of cleanup – hot water and detergent consumption
Heating of cooling of the home during dinner time.
Cost of side dishes – the recipes only consider the cost of the entree.
Cost of the Cooking Lite recipe book or magazine subscription.

In many cases, a single or couple cooking at home is false economy, especially if you consider the cost-per-hour of whomever is performing the dinner prep.


Anonymous October 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm

This is exactly true, and part of the reason why charts and recommendations such as these – while more health conscious – are a complete oversight of the whole process. Selective information obviously used to promote a single agenda. :) Please do your research and account for all costs and time within the process.


Anonymous October 19, 2010 at 1:31 pm

All Cooking Light recipes can be found for free at myrecipes.com.


dxr October 20, 2010 at 12:19 am

So? That is the least expensive thing on the list, in the long run at least.


Sarthax October 19, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Seriously? I once was taking your same position over some internet schmuck who was advocating home cooked pizza over eating out. We actually spent a few days back and forth calculating costs down the kilowatt hour of electricity and gas used for everything. I ended up reversing my stance based on a sound presentation of facts.

10-15 cents for a Kilowatt hour of electricity, 1-2 cents for detergent per meal, Gasoline would cost more if you eat out as you make multiple trips instead of a weekly or bi weekly shopping trip, heating for the home is negligible turning off your heat really? for 90 minutes while you go out? If you’re so penny pinching then surely you’d know the benefits of cooking at home over eating out. Side dishes? You think they’d be cheaper if you ate out versus preparing them yourself? Inconsequential.

I cook and eat at home with the girl and I and it’s in most cases about 1/4th to 1/2 the cost of eating out depending on the meal. Cooking for a couple is indeed cost effective. One thing not presented above is Tax and Tip.

To make this short, I was wrong just as you are wrong. The costs you mention are negligible.


Anonymous October 19, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Don’t forget the cost of knives, the cost of salt/spices, oil, etc.

Keep getting fat, America.


Chefolicious October 19, 2010 at 5:17 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more. ;)


Nathan October 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm

While you’re right that the author has probably exaggerated some things to make a point, you’ve certainly done the same.

Gas to and from store is completely negligible. Most people have a grocery store within a few kilometers. Fuel for my costs about 10 cents a kilometer, so I’m spending about 20 cents round trip. Even if I got twice a week, that’s 40 cents for 21 meals, or 2 cents per meal.

Tax? I don’t know where you’re from, but here groceries do not have sales tax. What does have tax though is restaurant food…

Hot water and detergent is completely negligible. A $1 bottle of detergent lasts at least a month. Hot water is also pennies at the most.

Not sure what your point is about heating and cooling? Are you suggesting that it costs more to eat in because you have to heat or cool your house during that time? That’s absurd.

Side dishes is a somewhat valid point. But of the meals lists, only the wrap and sandwich would come with a side in a restaurant. And sides made at home cost next to nothing. For example, enough potatoes for a side would cost about 25 cents, same for rice.

It takes me much, much less time per week to grocery shop, cook, eat and clean up than it would take to eat out. The prep time is the same, it’s just someone else doing it. Add in driving, waiting (for menu, drinks, food, bill) and it takes way longer to eat out.


Anonymous October 20, 2010 at 6:09 am

I somewhat disagree with you on the economy of couples dining in though. For instance, we made a dish last night that contained 1 lb of beef, 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of milk, and corn. This meal makes 6 big meatballs which can easily be dinner and then lunch the next day or (if we don’t over eat like I have a tendancy to) 3 meals for two. $4 + $0.30 + $1 + $1.50 = $7ish (most of the values are estimates). That’s not bad for at least two meals for two people.

-Cost of food prep : pretty minimal even with electric
-ingredients acquisition : pretty minimal – split between 7 dinners + staples per week.
-cost of cleanup : 5 dollar container of detergent, use 20 times, split over 2 days worth of dishes is pretty small
-Heating/cooling : Only need to cool in the summer, in which case it’s already on. In the winter, the heat is actually a bonus.
-Cost of Side Dish : already factored in.
-Cost of recipe book : All family recipes.
-Cost-per-hour : Nothing. Sure, my time is worth x-per-hour but that’s only for 40 hours a week. After that, I go home and I don’t get paid. Very rarely does work time overlap with cooking time.

Our grocery bill for two is under $100 a week, every week including costs for two cats. In fact, we frequently manage to keep it under $70. Assuming eating out is $5 each, not including tax, we’re talking $70 a week just for dinner. And usually, at that price you’re talking fast food which generally doesn’t leave left overs and is pretty bad for you. At best, it’s Pizza and you can get a couple meals out of it. A normal meal out, including just water drinks will run about $20 and have sad left overs (just the fries or half of a burger for example).


Anonymous October 20, 2010 at 6:53 am

… as opposed to the costs of gas to drive to a restaurant, cost of tipping (another 10-15%), time cost of driving, cost of washing an extra pair of clothes that you would change into (yes, you’re list of tiny costs is this ridiculous), whatever other silly little costs you could think of. Eating at home is cheaper 98% of the time, unless you eat Little Cesars everyday.

Cost of magazine subscription? I didn’t know recipes weren’t available online.
“waste when only feeding 1 or 2″? I didn’t know you couldn’t save leftovers.


TO October 20, 2010 at 8:58 am

way to be a critic i thought it was great, “cost of cooking lite recipe book or magazine subscription” its a website, do you want to add “internet fees” as well to the costs of eating at home as well? people these days…


hello October 20, 2010 at 10:18 am

I like your response and it is very true. Also the author does not take into count eating out and eating healthy is a possibility. When I was living in LA single the cost of me eating out vs eating at home was very close. It did not make a significant change either way. I like the chart you made but I could make another chart proving the exact opposite.


Anonymous October 20, 2010 at 10:29 am

Some of the costs you listed can’t really be included in a fair analysis – for example, you mention the cost per hour of whomever is performing the dinner prep, but to include that fairly you’d also have to include it for everyone attending dinner if you eat out, since people rarely earn money sitting at a restaurant table.

In addition, unless you are actively cutting off your AC/Heater when you go out to eat (which I would bargain is a hassle most people don’t deal with since they want their home to be comfortable as soon as they get back), you have to count that regardless of which option you choose.

They also specifically excluded gas for both sides of the equation (and actually, you save on gas eating at home since you can purchase multiple meals worth of food in one trip, rather than paying for gas per meal).

As far as tax, again, they excluded it from both sides of the equation, though I suppose it could make a difference still if your area’s sales tax for groceries is higher than the tax on food at restaurants.

Out of your list, I think the only two that really are legitimate additional costs are energy costs to prep the food and the cost of cleanup, and while I haven’t done the math (which will vary widely based on type of energy used and efficiency of appliances) I would wager that the combined cost of both of these per meal is less than your average tip, which they excluded from the cost of eating out.


Carl October 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

I cook at home because it’s healthier. If I’m careful and clip coupons I can make it cheaper. But it has never, ever, been faster for me to cook than to go out to eat.

Perhaps I am just slow? I know that it typically it takes me 10 minutes to look up a recipe for dinner, 5 minutes to make the shopping list for the ingredients I don’t already have, 15 minutes to drive to the supermarket, 20 minutes to buy the ingredients, 20-30 minutes to make the meal, 30-45 minutes to eat the meal, and 10 minutes to do the dishes. So it takes somewhere in the range of 2 hours, not 45 minutes.

Also, you will need cooking experience and cooking equipment. These two costs are minimal when amortized across many meals but for someone starting out they can present a substantial stumbling block.

Pushing frugality and healthy eating is noble but doing it with a misleading infographic is counterproductive — anyone who has gone to a restaurant and then cooked a meal at home knows that cooking at home is deceptively time-consuming.


Jennie October 19, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Looking at these times I do believe that yes, you really are just slow. :)


Nathan October 19, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I cook several times a day for myself and it is WAY less time consuming than eating out. Sorry, but you are just slow. if you go to the grocery store every time you make a meal there is something very wrong with your planning ability.

I grocery shop once or twice a week. I don’t make new recipes every meal, so most of the time I do not have to look anything up. I also cook enough for several meals. So the first meal might take 30 minutes to cook, but I have food for 5 meals. So it’s really only 6 minutes per meal.

Debunking misleading infographics is noble, but perhaps you just suck at cooking.


Anonymous December 3, 2010 at 2:11 am

Don’t listen to these fools, you’re process is reasonable, I’m sure your meals are fresh, delicious, and diverse considering the time and planning you put in for it. I know someone who cooks for the entire week every Sun. Sure it saves time and money, but the quality sucks. Everyone’s situation is different and we can’t generalize that eating in is always cheaper. I live in a large metropolitan area and there are tons of healthy places to eat at affordable prices especially if you get it to go. That’s another thing people on this forum is forgetting, you don’t HAVE TO eat at the resturant, you can call in your order, pick it up on the way home and viola! no tip and you saved yourself time. I’m not arguing that it doesn’t save money to cook at home if you have a family, but if you work long hours, make decent wage, and it’s just you, then by all means pay the extra couple dollars for your convenience and sanity because your time and energy is obviously worth more than waiting in line at the supermarket, prepping the food, cooking, and cleanup.


Izzy October 19, 2010 at 11:31 am

The problem with this, is it doesn’t account for food waste.

For the spaghetti example, that is completely inaccurate if only one person is eating. If multiple people are eating the costs are spread between the number of people that are eating.


matt October 20, 2010 at 5:28 am

This is where you’re wrong…. if it’s only one person eating, you can eat over multiple nights or freeze leftovers and eat them later. Cooking at home will always be heathier provided it’s done right….


Don October 19, 2010 at 11:32 am

The prices listed above are per serving so this is very misleading the total cost of any of these meals to make at home should really be displayed as (cost per serving) x (number of servings).


Eric October 19, 2010 at 11:51 am

Wow. The part on serving size is particularly far of from actual human behavior at least in my experience. 5 oz hamburger??? Yeah right, I actually enjoy making my burgers even bigger than that when I cook for myself. This infograph is good at displaying the value of eating at home but it leaves out the most difficult part. Self control and moderation are key. These are easy to say but hard to do.


J Barker October 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm

What about the cost of my time to do the dishes and clean up? :)


Michael Prescott October 19, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I agree. The cost of eating at home is WAY less than eating out. If you buy a dozen eggs to prepare pancake and egg breakfast, you always have eggs left over to prepare another breakfast and another lunch and probably even eggs for a salad another day. One breakfast from Waffle house or Huddle House or IHOP and you could have bought a weeks worth of groceries, not just a single serving for the family.
Or say you make homemade pizza, not only do you have left over raw ingredients which you’ll certainly refrigerate and freeze and will still taste better afterwards in other dishes.. you’ll also have lots of FRESH pizza, tasting MUCH FRESHER for days after.
How about chicken and dumplings…
How about soup…
Jeesh… I can’t think of a single meal, where you don’t save LOTS of dollars by eating at home. The math is really simple… if you pay someone else to prepare your food… wait… that’s all you gotta say to get it… YOU PAY SOMEONE ELSE.. they sure aren’t doing it for free.


Michael Prescott October 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Also… if you are smart… when you cook at home, you cook once and warm up later, again and again. Of course, you only learn to do this if you are raising a family and saving for college, paying for retirement, paying a mortgage, paying for school… bills etc. When you’re doing all of these things, you learn how to truly save money and time. And, you teach your kids to work with you to save time and money. It costs a family MORE time to eat out than it does to prepare a meal from scratch.


Penny October 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm

This article, or infographic or whatever, enrages me! Firstly, the restaurants chosen for the bit on price are seemingly random. Second, I will say right now that I, personally, do not take 20 minutes to eat a meal that I prepared. Maybe this is different for a family or group, but I still find it hard to believe because the more people you add the more time will be needed for prep work and cooking. Thirdly, calories are not a measure of how healthy something is! A leaf of lettuce isn’t more healthy than bread because it has fewer calories! The problem with calories is that people are eating too many of them. Which brings me to my next point… Restaurants may have large servings but you can have large servings at home too! Unless you happen to be the kind of person who cooks only according to USDA recommendations. Not to mention you don’t need to finish your over-sized burger if you don’t want too. And I am pretty sure the soda they serve at Burger King is the same soda I have at home (actually considering theirs is often watered down mine is probably higher in calories then theirs). Oh! And you might not have freewill, but I do, I can too resist those large desserts at restaurants. In fact, I eat desserts at home a lot more often than I do at restaurants; I’m eating a cookie right now!

But the thing that enrages me most about this, is that I agree with your conclusion! Cooking for yourself is better on your wallet and often better for you! I just came to that conclusion using logic that makes sense.


hope October 19, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Great comparison, i always believed that eating at home is cheaper, takes less time and healthier. If you compare a hardy home cooked meal with fast food, you will find that the home cooked meal took you a lot of time and did cost you more but witch one is healthier, of course what you made will be by far healthier, and healthier is better. http:www.cure4us.com


Troy Allen October 19, 2010 at 1:51 pm

This is always a fun topic. This chart focused on the costs and the health impact, which I wholeheartedly agree with. Steak and mashed potatoes, or spaghetti with tomato sauce at home will always have lower costs associated with them.

There are two glaring omissions with this article, however.

1) With very complex foods (authentic Indian is a great example) and the ingredients and equipment that are required to cook them properly, your home version is almost never going to measure up. In cases like that, you can spend $10 and a whole lot of time to get a rough approximation, or you can pony up the $15 and get the thing you really wanted in the first place. Pizza is a good example too. Forget the hut, lets talk a proper NY or Chicago pie, or a nice brick oven style pie. Those seldom come out the same at home.

2) A brief mention was made of time, but this was understated. For the extra money, I am buying the privilege that someone ELSE did the shopping, prepped the ingredients, cooked the food, served it to me, took and cleaned my dishes, AND cleaned up the kitchen itself. I can tell from some houses I’ve visited that some people skip this step, but the stove and the counter don’t clean themselves.

Also, with a little self discipline, you can take half that restaurant meal home and have them for lunch the next day.


Anonymous October 19, 2010 at 3:05 pm

lol – authentic indian is the reason i cook at home – (I am indian) I dont get those at the restaurants here and I can cook fast.


Christa aka the BabbyMama October 23, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Oh man, the pizza my husband makes at home is SO much better than almost any pizza I’ve had out. Not saying everyone can make an amazing pizza, but he sure can!


Alex P. October 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I think that dining at home can be more frugal. You have the advantage of buying ingredients in bulk which then in turn you can use to make several different meals over the course of the week. You control your portions and preparation which in turn makes you eat healthier as you actually see what is going into the dish as you prepare it.

The eating out part is convenient and fast but a lot of people forget to account for driving expense, tips for the help, additional dishes that you might order but might not actually finish such as soups or side salads or chips, overpriced beverages which most of the people order. A perfect example is an order of iced tea at almost any restaurant will cost you at least $1.25 for a glass, granted it’s probably refilled for free but for you to see a sufficient return on your investment you’d have to drink 3 or 4 glasses.

I just spent a month dinning out because I was moving cities and was forced to live in a hotel for a month and not really having paid attention to my eating out spending in the past this month was an eye opener for me. I was finally able to sit down and add up how much I spent on dinning out which did not even include breakfast which I got at the hotel.

Yes, initial grocery shopping trips can be expensive but I think in the long run cooking for yourself and not dinning out can save you money and hopefully force you to eat healthier.


YankeePaul October 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I lost my job and had to find a way to save money until work came along to feed a family of four very well.

Try this: Menu plan for a month but shop weekly picking up milk, but leave Saturdays free for whatever. Think about where you will use ingredients again like dried oregano, tomato paste, pasta and try to use some frozen veg but not a lot. Cook some stuff you can freeze. Then next month eat out every day leaving Saturdays free. Its easy to look at monthly expenditure and unless you are walking to your restaurants, you will spend 5 times as much on gas than at home. Get milk, bread etc cause you should make your own lunch on the way to and from work or school.

Unless you are eating lobster and fillet mignon, you should be about 25 to 50 percent ahead and a bit lighter to boot if you eat at home.


timmay October 19, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Such defensiveness from the ‘outers’!
Love your taco bells huh?

yes- this chart did not include elec, water use, clean-up time, etc.
at home

BUT even factoring that in- you gonna tell me eating out is cheaper?
(OR better for you?)

I think NOT!


TheOtherGuy October 19, 2010 at 10:08 pm

False economy? Seriously? Laughing Buddha is using some very silly assumptions to make his point. If anyone wants to factor in the cost of the person preparing the meal at home on an hourly basis, they would end up with a wash, due to the fact that this person probably appears in BOTH scenarios. And for a number of other factors mentioned, again they appear to weigh on both scenarios. Your cost to heat and cool your home is a constant, unchanged by whether you are at home or in a restaurant. Subscription? Natural gas to cook one meal, pennies at most. The math is clearly in favor of cooking at home. The only real question is, are home prepared meals going to be edible. That can only be answered by the cook and his or her ability to learn.


Gadget October 19, 2010 at 10:27 pm

I think the basic premise of the graphic is pretty true, but there are a lot of factors that can make it less than sound. As another commentator noted, if you’re making something more complex, you can easily spend a ton of money on things like spices or specialty ingredients, although the flipside is you then have them in your arsenal for later dishes.
After I was laid off, my fiance and I have figured out a lot of ways to cut down our food expenses, and a major thing is a good spice rack. Once you’re stocked up on flavorful basics, it’s fairly easy to make a sophisticated meal for 2 people for about 5-10 dollars, which includes a meat based entree and a few sides. But at the same time we’ve learned if you take advantage of deals at restaurants, you can also get some good values. The ’2 for 20′ type deals a lot of chains offer are great as long as you dont try and eat the huge portion you get and instead take some home for lunch or dinner the next day. And you may save money eating your restaurant leftovers for lunch at work instead of spending close to $10 at a fast food place.


J.J. October 19, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Great article. However sometimes its always nice to go to an authentic restaurant with a chef who prepares food us mere mortals cannot, plus its nice to go out and someone do all the work.


Cubicle Warrior October 20, 2010 at 2:02 am

Wow thanks for this infographic! Looks awesome! will link to it definitely :)

Also, restaurant food usually contain more calories because of the cooking style (fried) and the sauces that they put on the food (ranch, etc.) For instance, ordering Caesar salad in a restaurant would fatten you up more than if you made one yourself at home.

Packed lunch is the way to go guys :) Reduces your calories and stretches your dollar :)


Thomas Rabalais October 20, 2010 at 4:25 am

$19 for a pizza – come on – Boboli has the premade shells and sauce (2-12″ for $6), mozzarella – 8oz for $2-4, depending on where you’re getting it, toppings variable but not more than about $5 (if you cook all the time, you’re going to have onions, bell peppers, etc on hand anyway). The way I figure it, you get 2-12″ pizzas for about $15 exactly the way you want them. My wife and I do this occasionally and the second pizza is for lunch the next day or day after. BTW, have you ever heard of a freezer? Handy for keeping extra ingredients for the next time you make pizza. I work in the restaurant industry and because of the cost of running a restaurant (electricity, gas, employees, etc) they usually take the cost of whatever they buy and triple it to come up with their selling price.


John Conner October 20, 2010 at 5:53 am

So from now on Healthy=low calories and disregard all other factors? You gotta be kidding me.


Insani Kamil October 20, 2010 at 6:25 am

Isn’t the whole point of eating to obtain calories to provide your body energy? This article is making calories out to be a bad thing. I would be much more interested in a price/calorie comparison. If you are on a tight budget, you want to get the most bodily energy for your money.


Dave October 20, 2010 at 9:23 am

The graphic doesn’t consider the mental and spiritual benefits for cooking at home, either. When we cook, we learn about food, culture, history and science. We also earn satisfaction of having created something and seeing our skills improve over time.

It’s the difference between actively and passively participating in an essential part of life. When we eat out, at best we spend an hour talking. More often, we wolf down the food without really tasting it. No one’s saying you have to cook every meal, but do we really need an infographic to know which is more beneficial to us?


Bor October 20, 2010 at 9:46 am

Two nights ago, I bought 2.5lbs of Chicken Breast for $7, small jar of Pesto for $4.50, 1lb of Bow Tie Pasta for $1, and a 16oz pack of pre-cut Broccoli florets for $2. I used 1lb of Chix Breast, 1/3 of the Pesto, about 10oz of Broccoli to feed 2 adults, and 1 4yr old. This equates to:

Approximately $6 for our meal, or about $2 per person. Pesto stores well, and I’ll be using it again in the next week or two (it was actually a little too pricey, as I found fresh Pesto at Trader Joe’s for $2.50).

Cheap right? On top of that, I had leftover pasta which I just packed for lunch the following day. Also, I do like being able to control the amount and type of seasoning in my dishes.


The Phist October 20, 2010 at 9:52 am

WHAT?! Eating at home is cheaper than out? So if I change my oil on my own is that cheaper than going somewhere to have someone else do it? THANKS FOR THE LESSON IN COMMON SENSE.

How about an Info-graphic that shows us how to eat out cheaper than if we were to cook it at home! I know I can’t cook a double cheeseburger meal for what I can get it at McDonalds – there you have a start!


Miss Bliss October 20, 2010 at 10:01 am

Hey you, yeah you. The person who is reading this article and thinking, “whatever, it is way faster and cheaper for me to eat out. Between the time and money it takes me to go shopping, prepare the food, cook the food and clean up I could have been to Taco Bell and back for a fraction of the cost. Yum!”

Let me guess, you are probably at least a little overweight, prefer to drive than walk three blocks and the last time you saw the inside of a gym was your junior year of high school when you were the last one picked to be on the dodge ball team.

In the long run it is definitely cheaper to cook at home! For two people to eat out at relatively inexpensive places costs an average of $20. That’s just for one meal with no leftovers and not healthy food. Once you start going to sit down restaurants that cost increases exponentially.

For $35 at Safeway I was able to purchase enough raw materials for 3 meals plus snacks. While the start up cost of cooking at home is relatively high (buying staples like seasoning, oils, etc) once you have the basics it is a lot cheaper to purchase fruits, vegetables and meat and cook at home. Cooking for two can be challenging, but if you make sure to eat leftovers then 3 or 4 meals can last an entire week including lunches!

In a society where obesity, diabetes and heart disease is on the rise I would hope that people recognize that there is a higher cost to eating out than time or money. So stop wining about hidden costs in eating at home and go get on a treadmill!


Kinglink October 20, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Waste and time shopping are both missing in this infographic. Eating for two at home however is FAR cheaper than eating for one, and at the same time you have more choice in a restaurant.

Go to the dollar menu and grab 2 burgers for 2 bucks. If that’s what you want to eat, there’s no beating that. And if you only eat 1 serving size of your meal (4 oz of steak), well good for you, but that’s not going to sustain most people on 3 meals a day.


Nick October 20, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I find some of these comments hilarious, especially the ones defending eating out as somehow “cheaper” and “healthier”. Michael Prescott is absolutely right: Twenty to thirty bucks for a meal equals a week’s worth of groceries, easily; plus, when you buy ingredients, you can use them for various dishes.

I prepare three or so “meals” a week in bulk and eat a little bit every day for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is a simple bowl of cereal. When I do go to a restaurant, it’s for a special occasion.

Most restaurants (at least the ones mentioned in the infographic) pump their food full of sugar, fat, and salt, so even if you just get a piece of grilled chicken, it’s already loaded with extras.

Restaurants are great, don’t get me wrong, but even if you spend $5 a day on lunch, that’s $25 a week, or $100 a month, or about $1200 a year. And that’s just for lunch. Plus, most lunches are more than $5 by the time you add a drink and a side.

If you shop smart, meanwhile, you can really save money and eat better (and, if you cook in bulk, save time). There are so many coupons available (and coupon apps, like coupsmart.com) that companies are giving away BILLIONS of dollars every year that never get redeemed.


Cheryl Jones October 20, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I tend to eat more natural things so I buy higher priced items and count it as part of my health expense cost as eating healthier is good insurance, but it is not necessarily food I cook or wash, it might be a green drink. The point is well made about waste and the cost of electricity to cook the food and water to wash the vegetables, etc. All of that needs to be taken into account. If I were to cook a meal for myself, due to waste, it is better I go out to something like Golden Corral. There is no way I could buy that variety for that price for myself. Now if you have a family, the economics can work differently. I personally work to eliminate my grocery bills so that money is freed up to do other things.


Christa aka the BabbyMama October 23, 2010 at 9:21 pm

You do realize how little water and electricity and gas you use per meal, right? Those expenditures are never going to push the cost of ingredients you turn into a meal yourself over the cost of a meal that someone cooks for you and serves. It’s only logical – wait staff, bussers, cooks, dishwashers, etc. all get paid, and their pay comes out of restaurants upping the price of food beyond ingredients. If it’s variety you want, sure, a low-brow buffet will win every time. But food in tubs under a heat lamp? Come on…


bigyaz October 21, 2010 at 11:59 am

1. The prices for the restaurant meals presented don’t include tax (5 to 10 percent in most areas) and tip (hopefully at least 15 percent, unless you’re being stingy). So that $8.95 pile of mushy pasta at Olive Garden is closer to $11-12.

2. If you’re wasting a lot of food when you’re cooking you really don’t know what you’re doing. Either prepare the proper amount, bring the leftovers for lunch the next day or make enough so you can freeze some for the nights you don’t feel like cooking.

3. People who dine out absolutely eat more calories than at home, and more empty calories. Ask anyone who is on the road a lot for their job; it’s very difficult to eat healthy and not overeat when you’re dining out a lot.

4. Almost all the inexpensive options when dining out are high in calories, fat and sugar. You’re paying a high price beyond the money you lay out.


random commenter October 22, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Boy, you people commenting on this seem to take this crap way too seriously. ROFLMFAO


Larissa September 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Honestly, cooking at home is cheaper if..

1. You eat foods like spaghetti, meat and potatoes, frozen things.
2. You eat processed foods.
3. You do not mind eating the same thing 3 meals or so in a row (not to waste)
4. You are cooking for more than one.
5. You eat cheap foods, things out of a can

However considering these facts
.. I am only cooking myself..
I eat fresh foods, a lot of greens, fresh meats, and organics (trust me this is better for you in the long run.. be careful about what you put into your body)
When I eat pizza I am not eating that gross crust that you ” just add water too”
I only cook with olive oil (can be expensive but MUCH healthier)
So by the time I spend 5 bucks on good pizza crust or the ingredients to make it, 3$ on a jar of olives, 4$ on quality pizza sauce (not ragu or anything with high fructose corn syrup), 5$ for deli cut pepperoni, 3$ for REAL cheese (no processed cheese).. I am already at 15 dollars.. this one pizza would be two meals and this is about the same price I would have paid for a pizza at a local memphis restaurant that uses local and fresh ingredients (there are plenty of decently priced places that get foods fresh and locally since I live in an artistic/hip district).. The sauce will probably go bad as will the cheese bc i am not going to eat pizza more than once in two weeks.. say i bought spinach to go on it that would have went bad too bc that only last like 3 days and who wants to eat the same things over and over??

I can go get fresh healthy vietnamese food from a local resturant for 10$ and this will last 2 or 3 meals too!! If I call it in and ride my bike to go pic it up I can have it in about 20 minutes and be sitting down and eating.. no work of mine..


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