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The Cost to Cook vs. Takeout vs. Dine Out

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Kristina ByasGuest Blogger
July 18, 2016 · 3.5k Views

Everybody eats two to three times a day, sometimes more, but how they choose to have their meal prepared and what they eat will vary. Some people enjoy cooking in their own home, some enjoy ordering taking and others prefer dining out. Any of these three options is perfect if you get what you want, which is why you may have never stopped to think about how much money you could save by choosing one of these options over the other two? Everyone knows that each option will cost a different amount, but when comparing, you may be surprised what you find.


Cooking At Home

Source: The Huffington Post

The two things that you need to factor into the cost of cooking at home is paying for the ingredients and the time and energy you will spend preparing the meal. The cost of ingredients will likely be cheaper than what you would pay for a cooked meal from a restaurant, but it could take longer depending on what you are making and how familiar you are with the dish.

A good example of this is if you were to prepare a spaghetti dinner. You'll have to purchase noodles, meat and pasta sauce, but also garlic bread and salad fixings if you want to add something fresh to your menu. In total these ingredients could run you between $15-$20. If you are feeding two to four people with only $20, this is actually not a lot to spend and is definitely cheaper than what you would pay outside of the home. With spaghetti being easy to make, you will maybe spend an hour or less preparing this specific dish. You can also try meal delivery services that provide all the pre-measured ingredients - all you have to do is cook! Check out The 9 Best Ready-to-Cook Meal Delivery Services, and if you're a wine connoisseur, see how you can try six bottles of wine for free.


Source: Style Caster

Takeout from Panda Express, Chipotle, or Domino's is great for those days you don't feel like cooking, but also when you don't want to move after you've gotten comfortable in your chair. You may not be spending time in the kitchen, but you will be investing time in ordering the food and waiting for it arrive. When comparing it to cooking at home and dining out, you will also want to consider how much you are paying for the food, the delivery fee and the tip you will give the driver for delivering the food.

Sticking with a spaghetti dinner with garlic bread and a salad, let's say you order this meal for takeout. The restaurant you order it from may charge $20-$25 for these three items. This isn't bad, but now there is a $2 delivery fee tacked on to the total, as well as the tip. Typically, a delivery driver will be tipped about 15 percent, which will be between $3 to $4 for this order, bringing your total to $25- $30.

Dining Out

Source: TVXS

Just like ordering takeout, when dining out, you get to enjoy the luxury of having someone else prepare your meal for you. There may not be a delivery fee associated with dining out, but you will have to pay for the food, the tip and the gas it takes to get to the restaurant. Dining it at the restaurant is similar in cost to getting takeout, especially when paying for the food and tipping your server.

The thing that can really get you is paying for gas to get there. Depending on how far away the restaurant is from your home, gas can get to be costly. If your car gets thirty mile to the gallon and the restaurant is 15 miles away from your home, the round trip would be 30 miles. Nowadays, a gallon of gas will run between $2-$4 depending on what kind your vehicle takes. If the meal and the tip eqauls $25, adding $2-$4 for gas will bring your total to $27-$29 for your meal. This isn't too far off from the cost of ordering takeout. So instead of visiting Outback Steakhouse the next time you're craving a slab of steak, grill a steak at home.

When comparing the price of all three options, cooking at home will be the better choice more often than not. When on a budget, this is something to remember, as you will probably be limiting yourself to how much you can spend on dining out and takeout, as well as groceries. However, sometimes, you'll just feel like paying the extra money to enjoy a delicious meal that you didn't have to prepare yourself.


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Kristina Byas is a Milwaukee native who has written for Female Intel, Shepherd Express, Scandalous Women and more. She suffers from a severe case of wanderlust and has difficulty purchasing items at full price. You can learn more about her by following her on Twitter: @KristinaByas