Cooking at Home vs. Eating Out. What's Better?

  • Over the past 12 months, the cost of meals prepared outside the home have climbed 3.1% – while the cost of groceries rose only 1%.
  • The average price per serving of home cooked meals is $4.31 – while the average cost of eating out is $20.37.

Much of the time, we can approach life with a “to each their own” mentality. And for good reason! We like what we like, and there’s no getting around it.

But today, we wanted to try and convince you to change your mind about something…

Our proposition?

Cooking at home is better than eating out.

It is – plain and simple. There are probably even a long list of benefits that many of you already experienced eating at home yourselves.

  • saving money
  • saving time
  • curating a healthier lifestyle…

So we’re gonna dive into this today and look at some data that supports the claims of these benefits.

Saving That Money

Before jumping to any conclusions… know that we absolutely love the world of gastronomy.

Many restaurants and chefs are purveyors of innovation in the food world.

Central – is a restaurant in Peru that is in constant search of new ingredients in the Peru region. They are pioneering a new respect for indigenous ingredients and the people who grow them.

D.O.M – is a restaurant in Brazil founded by Alex Atala. He’s the founder of the ATA Institute; which is an organization that promotes food diversity by working with farmers in the Amazonas state.

And on a less “prestigious” note – Burgerville is a chain of restaurants in the Pacific Northwest that works with local farmers and promotes the use of sustainable energy and disposal.

And these are just three examples of the hundreds of innovators out there in the restaurant world.

So again, there’s nothing wrong with eating out. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to discover food, spend time with family, and support local business. But it can be pretty expensive if you eat out regularly…

Forbes analyzed data from Priceonomics customer Wellio, and found some interesting facts about the costs of eating out:

  • It is 5 times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant than it is to cook at home.
  • Meal kits are 3 times more expensive than cooking from scratch.
  • When cooking at home, you’ll save most money on carb-based meals (vs eating them at a restaurant).

What’s more interesting is that these costs aren’t exactly static. Marketwatch wrote a piece in 2019 explaining that “over the past 12 months the cost of meals prepared outside the home have climbed 3.1%”. They contrast this data to the 1% rising cost of groceries during the same timeframe.

Now, the data shown above doesn’t include the time saved eating out. For some, this can be significant – and you know what they say… “time is money”.

Determining how much your time is worth and how much money you save can be difficult. It’s also important to note that some meals at home are much quicker to prepare than the time you’d spend waiting in line at a restaurant.

So according to the data, it’s pretty clear you will save money cooking your own grub.

Saving That Time

We just addressed that it can be quicker to grab a quick meal on the go than cooking at home.

Yes, cooking an extravagant family meal from scratch can take a bit of time. Traditional dishes and baked goods can take a while to prep and cook. Though, this isn’t the case with all home cooked dishes.

Here is what some folks don’t consider about how home cooking can save you time:

  • The meal that took you a few hours to cook can be saved for quick leftover meals.
  • Technology exists that makes home cooking WAY easier and faster. Air fryer, Instant Pot, Sous Vide, and Crock Pot cooking can be a game changer in the kitchen.
  • A few hours of meal prepping can save you hours of time throughout your week. This is a neat guide from Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Planning is key when considering what meals to prep. If you play your cards right, you’ll end up saving time instead of waiting in line at a restaurant or drive-thru.

But saving money and time aren’t the only benefits to spending more time in ye ole’ kitchen… it may be healthier.

Your Kitchen May be Safer and Healthier

One of the most beautiful things about your own kitchen is a little thing called CONTROL.

Granted, we don’t have control over every variable when it comes to cooking our own food – but we have much more than we do eating out.

Let’s look at a few different areas comparing home-cooked and restaurant meals:

1) Hygiene:

From the Huffington Post, according to a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest,

“More than 28,000 people were sickened from 1,610 restaurant-linked foodborne illness outbreaks from 2002 to 2011, CSPI researchers found. Meanwhile, 12,980 people were sickened from 893 private home-linked food-borne illness outbreaks in that same 10-year period.”

When eating at home, YOU have control over how long you wash your hands, how long you wash your vegetables, and how fresh your poultry is.

There’s no second guessing what’s on your plate when it comes from your own kitchen. You are the supplier, the chef, and the server.

2) Caloric Intake and Health

When it comes to eating out, there are plenty of incredible and healthy options… depending on where you live.

Not all communities have affordable, healthy ready-to-order meals available. Some towns have very few options when it comes to dietary restrictions.

So the best option is to be the mastermind of your own cuisine.

Even if you have an incredible array of healthy restaurant options to choose from, you still may not be getting exactly what you need.

As scientists dive deeper into nutrigenomics, we are finding that humans are… complicated. People are different on a molecular level, and they require different nutrients to achieve optimal health.

Sure, you may be getting what you need by eating out every day.

But if you personally make sure you’re getting what you need by preparing your daily meals – you could be better off.

3) Allergens

It’s pretty traumatizing when you almost die from cross-contamination. For those suffering from allergens, a trip to the restaurant can easily turn into a trip to the hospital.

More than 30 million people in the United States have food allergies.

For allergy sufferers, eating at home is the best way to avoid having a reaction. Like we mentioned before – you’re captain in your kitchen. It’s pretty easy to avoid a tree nut when you’re the one baking the pie.

So What Next?

This is by no means a bash to the restaurant industry. Like we mentioned before, we love those who innovate in the world of gastronomy.

We just felt that showing a little data on the costs associated with eating out may convince some folks to make use of their ovens at home.

If there was ever a time to jump into cooking – it’s while the world is crazy. The kitchen brings catharsis.

We hope y’all are staying safe out there, and we would LOVE to hear about some of your favorite recipes and time-saving tips in the comments below!

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