Frugal Living, Personal Finance 
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Eat Out, Cooking Isn’t Worth It

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Yes, you read that title correctly (because it goes contrary to what everyone else says) but it comes with a caveat, it’s only true if you’re cooking for one. My friend Perry, of pmoa.net fame, did a non-scientific study where he compared buying groceries and eating out. The caveat that you must understand before you go savagely flaming him is that he bought premium food (not cheap bulk stuff in an effort to save money) because when you go out to eat, you’re usually eating better stuff. Now, go over there and savagely flame him.

OTB

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7 Responses to “Eat Out, Cooking Isn’t Worth It”

  1. Amanda says:

    Hmm… I still don’t buy it. I mean, granted it’s hard to cook for one with premium food (not frozen junk) because you can rarely find single servings of things. But, you can always freeze extra chicken breasts/salmon filets/spaghetti sauce for another night…

  2. Brian says:

    what about leftovers?

  3. Yeah, my math still comes out in favor of cooking at home. A good burger at a restaurant that’s a step up from fast food is going to be $7-$10, whereas I got a dozen hamburger patties for $10 when Safeway had a buy-one-get-one on the family pack ground beef. Total cost for a burger with all the trimmings, made at home, is close to $2. Same deal with breakfast; I like to have pancakes on Saturdays and I realized I could get a whole bag of really good pancake mix plus a month’s worth of sausage for what I was paying for one breakfast at the local pancake house. And buying soft drinks at a restaurant for more than a buck a serving is just insane when you can get a 2-liter of your favorite beverage for under a dollar if you’re savvy. (I got three 2-liters for $1, total, recently by taking advantage of coupons on the 24-packs they buy for us at work and combining them with store sales.)

    That said, I do eat out a good bit — but I focus on stuff that takes more preparation than I’m willing to do at home. I’m not going to spend two hours, or even an hour, cooking something just for myself and then cleaning up afterward. Fifteen minutes is about my limit. So if I want something fancy, I’ll go out. He does have a point about the variety, too; that’s a big part of why I go out at least once a week.

  4. Danny says:

    What about the costs indirect costs incurred through cooking?

    (like gas and electricity to heat and cook the food?, the electricity to heat the hot water for cleaning dishes, or dishwasher? cleaning supplies for your mess?, storage and spoilage of food in the fridg before you have a chance to cook it? using your own utenelsils? getting more grease around the kitchen from cooking? mistakes you make in cooking or learning how to cook? etc.

    I’d rather have someone else clean that up.

  5. LAMoneyGuy says:

    It’s a lot harder to eat healthily when you eat out. When I lived by myself, I used to make a massive pot of vegetable soup in my 12 quart pot. I would buy a head of broccoli, two onions, a pound of carrots and celery, throw it in with a handful of brown rice into some vegetable or beef stock. It costs like $7 total and you get 10-12 servings. I used to do that every Sunday. Skinniest I’ve been since high school.

  6. Tyler Weaver says:

    I was thinking this article was going to be about opportunity cost. Which kind of makes sense, because if you have your own business and you determine that every hour you spend working on it you make $3,$30,$300 or whatever. Then every hour you spend preparing food you forgo that money. Now the reason I think that is kind of silly is because it takes 20 min max to make salmon and some green giant veggies. Then I go to the grocery once a week which takes an hour and a half total (including drive time).

    Now what people say when they consider opportunity costs is that you don’t spend that time when you go out to eat. But I think its hogwash because you have to drive to go out to eat, if you don’t eat fastfood you might need to wait to be seated, and then wait to order, etc. Which turns the whole process into a one to two hour deal.

  7. Anonymous says:

    You are also vastly over-rating the quality of food that you are actually served in most restaurants.
    A LOT of food served even in “good” restaurants depends on canned, frozen, or prefabbed ingredients.
    Ask anyone that works in food service.


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