Dine Out or Eat In


I don’t know what ratoiulle costs in a restaurant, but I figure it might cost me a couple of bucks for this whole pan.

In the nine years that I’ve been writing this blog I’ve probably talked more about food than anything other subject. That’s partly because food and water are the absolute basic requirements for life. It’s also because we grow so much of ours. And finally, it’s because I just do not understand the mindset of those who are willing to waste so much money by not cooking – their mantra is always “Dine Out.” I ran across a couple of articles recently that compared the cost of cooking at home to eating out. The figures are interesting, but there are a couple of sub-threads as well.
Cheapism compared a chicken dinner at home to those of four top national chains. The dinner included a quarter of a chicken, a potato, a cup of green beans, and ear of corn and other items like herbs, oil and garlic. Dining out cost $13.41 plus tip, for a total of $16 per person. Total cost for the same meal at home: $6.41. So, what’s interesting (aside from the significant difference in price)? Leftovers! For a start, unless you’re feeding a hungry teen, who could probably eat the whole chicken and all its sides, most people aren’t going to eat a full quarter of a chicken. Even if they do, there will still be enough meat on the bones to turn that carcass into chicken soup. This is true of many home-cooked foods. Roast beef with baked potatoes can become hash a couple of days later. Leftover hot dogs can be sliced into macaroni and cheese. Stale bread is resurrected as panera or French toast.

I can make chocolate chip cookies for less than half what they cost in the store – and they taste better!

The second sub-thread has to do with debt. As of September 2019, a study showed the average American carried $29,800 in debt. This includes mortgages, credit cards (with one third of American adults paying 15% or more in annual interest), autos and education loans. When it comes to monthly income, more than 34% of monthly income for adults is used to pay down debt. At the same time, the average household spends $3,008 a year to dine out. Lunch alone, at an average cost of $10 per meal for one person, runs $2,500 a year. While I have a hard time believing it, one family of three spent $30,000 in one year to dine out! Being in debt always comes back to bite you at the worst possible time.

Not only is it less expensive than buying ready-made, cooking with kids is great fun.

Dine out or eat in? I say it’s no contest.

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