Cost of Eating Out vs Cooking at Home


During the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans quickly found themselves unemployed. Restaurants were one of those businesses hit the hardest by closures, and many have found themselves cooking all of their meals at home. Not only because their favorite spots haven’t been open, but because it is the most cost-effective way to eat. 

Now that restaurants are slowly opening back up, you might be tempted to hit up your favorite spots to indulge or have a convenient meal delivery kit sent to your house weekly to make life a bit easier. Before you start dropping major cash on food, let’s take a closer look at how much you’ll save by continuing to cook at home.  

Benefits of Cooking at Home vs Eating Out

Not only is cooking at home cheaper than meal kits or eating out, it’s easier to maintain your health when you know exactly what’s in your food. Once you start seeing how much money you’re saving, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start cooking at home sooner! 

Average Cost of Cooking At Home

Preparing meals at home is always going to be the cheaper option vs eating out. Depending on your budget, a meal like vegetable pad thai can be made at home for less than two dollars. That same meal at a restaurant, could be up to 7 times more expensive. Not only are you spending less when you cook at home, but you’ll also know every ingredient in your meal. Whether you have dietary restrictions or you’re trying to lose weight, cooking your own meals can give you control and peace of mind. 

Here are a few tips to help make cooking at home easy, simple, and affordable.

  • Plan – Write out your weekly meals and make your grocery list accordingly. Only buy what is on the list. 
  • Meal prepping – Cook all your veggies, proteins, and carbohydrates for the week at once. We recommend roasting your veggies!
  • One pot meals – Pinterest has a ton of one pot meals. If you have an instant pot or crock pot, you’ll be even more hands off. 
  • Freezing meals – Making multiple casserole at once and freezing for later saves time and $$$ .
  • Meat-free Mondays – Protein is usually the highest cost in meals, so opt for meat-free days and save some cash. 
  • Shop bulk – Places like Costco have bulk foods that can help you make batch meals that you can freeze and pull out when you need them. This is a perfect option for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking. Keep an eye out for deals and stock up.

Average Meal Cost Eating Out

Sometimes the idea of cooking after a long work day sounds excruciating. You’re exhausted from work and the last thing you want to do is throw down in the kitchen. It’s easy and convenient to drive straight to your favorite restaurant and place an order. Yes, you could skip the pricey cocktails and mouth watering desserts, or even catch happy hour prices. But, before you know it, you’ll be scratching your head trying to figure out where your entire paycheck went. 

On average, a meal eating out is around $20 per person, and that doesn’t include the extras like drinks, appetizers, or tipping. Now multiply that by three meals a day, and a couple could easily spend their entire weekly grocery budget in just one day.

Meal Kit Delivery Services 

You might fall somewhere in the middle of the cooking vs eating out paradigm. Maybe you have a bigger budget, but you have less time. Meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron provide you with all the ingredients and recipes to make gourmet meals at home.  

With options for every diet and preference, opting for a meal kit will cost you about 3 times as much as a home-cooked meal prepared on your own. Keep in mind you’ll have to account for delivery fees, and some services require a minimum order. 

Home CookedMeal Kit DeliveryEating Out
Veggie Curry Bowl$4.58$12.75$19.94
Beef Tacos$2.71$12.38$19.98
Chicken Parmesan$2.44$13.00$21.98

How Much Should I Spend on Food a Week

According to the USDA 2020 food plans, a couple on a low-cost plan should spend around $120 weekly on groceries, so that’s $60 per person. Although these specific numbers don’t reflect special dietary restrictions, organic foods, or eating out. If used wisely, that $120 could go a long way.

Eat Good and Save Money 

If you’re trying to stick to a budget and put some money in the bank, eating out needs to get put on the back burner for a while. Make cooking at home fun again! Invite some friends to join you (on Zoom or in person), swap recipes and share how much money you’ve been saving! 

Being able to track your budget and having the right tools is essential if you want to get your finances on track. With a RoarMoney Account from MoneyLion, you can use your spend tracker report to monitor all your spending based on category. Need to grocery shop before payday? Connect your direct deposits to your RoarMoney account and get paid up to two days early, or request some Instacash up to $250. Saving never tasted so good! 

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