Have you ever wondered how much money you could save by cooking more meals at home rather than eating out? You've probably heard that home-cooked meals are more budget-friendly, but after a long day of work or school, grabbing takeout seems so much more appealing. So how detrimental is dining out to your wallet?
Well in this blog post, we're going to find out exactly how much money you could save by cooking at home, how often you should cook at home, and exactly what to cook to maximize savings, While eating out occasionally is fine, making your own meals at home using fresh ingredients most days of the week is an easy way to keep more cash in your pocket.
When deciding whether to eat at home or dine out, cost is often a deciding factor. Comparing the overall expense of home-cooked meals versus restaurant fare helps to determine which option is more budget-friendly for you.
Groceries costs add up
At the first glance, cooking at home seems cheaper since you're not paying for service or ambiance. However, the cost of ingredients for home meals can really add up over time. Staples such as fresh produce, meat, seafood, and spices tend to be more expensive when purchased at the grocery store. Don't forget that you also have to account for the cost of leftovers and any food that spoils before you eat it.
Restaurant meals come with a premium
When dining out at a restaurant, you're paying for the ingredients, the kitchen staff to prepare your food, and the waitstaff to serve you. The average meal at a mid-range restaurant costs about $15 per person in the U.S. For a family of four, that can easily top $60 for a single dinner out. Over time, frequently eating restaurant foods can really strain your budget.
Pros of Eating at Home
In case you're still on the fence about eating out vs eating at home, let's outline the pros and cons for each, starting with home cooking. Eating at home has some major advantages over dining out. Not only can you save a significant amount of money, but home-cooked meals are often healthier and more nutritious. Here are some of the main benefits of cooking at home:
When you cook your own food at home, you have control over the ingredients. You can choose fresh, healthy food and adjust recipes to create a healthy diet. Home-cooked meals are typically lower in calories, fat, and sodium since you're not adding extra oil or preservatives found in many restaurant food and fast-food options. Healthy eating is a breeze at home!
On average, people throw out $1,500 worth of wasted food each year, much of which comes from dining out. When you cook at home, you only buy what you need for your recipes and meal plan. Leftovers can also be incorporated into future meals, reducing waste even further. Any extras can be frozen or donated to food banks and shelters.
More Time With Family
Preparing meals at home gives you an opportunity to connect with loved ones. Working together in the kitchen to prepare a meal can be an exciting bonding experience. Sitting down at the table together, without distractions, allows time to catch up and strengthen relationships.
Sharpen Your Cooking Skills
Finally, cooking meals at home allows you to become a better cook! Experiment with different spices and ingredients to start creating fantastic meals. Before you know it, you could be inventing recipes for delicious food to share with your friends & family.
Cons of Eating at Home
While cheaper, eating at home definitely has some downsides compared to eating out. While home cooking can save you money and allow you more control over ingredients, it also requires a major time commitment and can be tedious.
Unless you’re an accomplished home cook, you likely cook the same 10-15 meals on rotation. Eating out offers exposure to a variety of cuisines and dishes you may not make at home. Trying new foods and flavors is one of the joys of dining at restaurants.
Cooking at home requires a significant amount of work. You have to plan meals, grocery shop, prep ingredients, cook, and do the dishes. All of this can take hours to make a single meal. When you're dining out, the work is done for you—all you have to do is show up, order, eat, and pay the bill. For busy people, the amount of work that goes into home cooking may not seem worth the effort.
There’s something to be said for the ambiance and experience of dining at a restaurant. Soft lighting, background music, attentive service, and not having to do dishes or cleanup create a relaxing atmosphere. For certain special occasions, eating out provides an escape from the usual routine in your kitchen.
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