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Eat at Home or Go Out: Cost Comparison

by Coach Gabrielle

To Eat In or to Eat Out…That is the Question.

Sometimes, it seems a whole lot easier to grab food at a restaurant or call in a to-go order. But is it worth it?

Going out once in a while can be a much-needed break from cooking and a fun time to socialize. But the monetary costs and health consequences can add up over time.

Let’s take a look at some of the costs you end up paying for when eating out.

  • Meal preparation
  • Meal service
  • Gratuities
  • Up-charges for substitutions or additions
  • Take out or to-go containers

These charges don’t always occur and may vary depending on the restaurant. There might be some additional charges not listed, as well.

Benefits of Eating at Home

On the flip side, let’s look at some of the benefits of preparing dishes at home.

  • Fresher ingredients
  • Lower in sodium than processed foods
  • Easier to modify for dietary restrictions
  • Prepared to taste
  • Promotes family time
  • Money savings

Let’s take a quick look at a few different meals that can be prepared at home or bought at a restaurant and see the cost savings throughout the day.

Cost Comparison Chart: Home-Cooked vs. Restaurant Meals

Eating @ home

Cost

Calories

Turkey Sausage egg and cheese English muffin

Apple slices

$1.81

406 calories

Cashews, sparkling water

$0.85

160 calories

Chopped salad( lettuce, cucumber, tomato, cheese) with chicken balsamic dressing

$4.71

305 calories

Greek yogurt with fresh organic berries and granola

$2.07

269 calories

Broccoli, garlic cauliflower mashed, chicken

$3.20

180 calories

TOTALS

$10.94

1320 calories

Eating Out

Cost

Calories  

Sausage, egg, and cheese English muffin with

Apple slices - McDonalds

$3.99

415 calories

Cashews, sparkling water - Wegmans

$3.58

360 calories

Simply grilled chicken salad w/ 20z balsamic dressing - Red Robin

$10.39

380 calories

Greek yogurt with fresh berries mango granola- Wal Mart

$3.97

320 calories

Broccoli garlic potato, chicken- Apple Bees

$13.49

570 calories

TOTALS

$34.41

1995 calories

You just saved $23.47, and 675 calories!!!

Wait, how does this work? Good question.

To calculate the cost of eating at home, unit pricing is used. So each item would be purchased and then unit pricing is used to decide how much each serving costs.

For example, a cucumber costs $1.00 and you will be using one serving or half the cucumber, so the unit price of that cucumber is 0.50 cents. This methodology is used to calculate the cost of each item in the salad.  

When looking at these salads, you can see the cost of eating out is almost doubled! Don’t forget when you eat out, you'll need to budget for tax and tip, and potentially any surcharges.

We get it, life is busy! Sometimes you need to pick up the phone and call in a meal. However, the more practice you get whipping up simple and easy meals at home, the healthier your meals will (inevitably) be, and the more money you'll save!

Your coaches propose an experiment:

If you tend to eat out a lot, track what you spend in a week or month on takeout and dining in. Then, spend that same period of time making your own meals, and track your spending. With your savings over a few months, treat yourself to a massage, new item of clothing, or something else you've been wanting to do, but didn't want to spend money on. 

And as always, share what you find with your coaches and Yes Health community!

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