Friday, October 26, 2007

Dining in can be expensive...

In this article by msn, the author claims that it's more expensive to cook than to dine in. The truth is that it is always cheaper to eat in. However, it is true that eating in can be expensive.

The real comparison is determining the if the exact meal you prepare at home is as expensive as restaurant food. The article claims that a man claims to have spent $30 for the couple cooking, shopping, and preparing a meal. But the same meal would only be $17 from a restaurant.

I find this rather hard to believe. For example as a couple we had two very expensive meals over the weekend. We had cajun scallops and NY strip steak both courtesy of Costco. The scallops were $9.99/lb and the steak $6.49/lb.

Now we ate a one pound of scallops + cajun style rice, entire meal for two with rice, veggies, salad, scallops = $12. However, maybe an hour of prep time which could be $50. BUT because we're both salary we don't get extra pay for working that hour so it really only cost $12. Plus for us to both eat scallop dish at a cajun restaurant it would be easily $18/plate = $36 without tip and tax. How is eating out cheaper?

Second example is eating the NY steak. That would easily cost us $25/plate but we ate it for $8 for the two of us sharing a 1 lb steak and all the fixings. $8 versus $50 doesn't seem like much comparison.

And yet we all eat out. The reason? Convience. There are some meals which are just easier to easier to eat out. My DH hates making ravioli, so we usually eat it out or buy it premade. He also hates making pizza nowadays.

But reality also is that there are some foods which are impossible to make. More ethnic foods like Indian curries which have expensive spices that can be difficult to find. We enjoy eating out those foods which are cheap to make if you already have all the ingredients on hand, but difficult otherwise.

I don't think you can compare eating out with cooking at home. Do you think it's cheaper to eat out?


I'm Grace. said...

Of course it's not cheaper to eat out. But often, and especially is one cooks like me, it IS a whole lot tastier!

I know that it is cheaper to dine in. I supect it is healthier. But in 58 years of life, I have not found it better. My favorite meals are always those prepared by other people!

Anonymous said...

I've completely stopped eating out. DH and I are excellent cooks. Friends are always telling us to open a restaurant. I couldn't be bothered. What I've been doing lately is comparing my home made meals to what I would have paid if we ate in a restaurant.
For example: this morning we had blueberry buttermilk pancakes with natural maple syrup, chicken breakfast sausages, OJ and coffee (with soy milk). It cost us just pennies vs $6.95 for pancakes, $1.00 extra for the natural syrup, $3 for the OJ and $2.25 for coffee. For the two of us that would have meant $26.40 plus $2.18 tax plus $4 tip which is $32.68. Or we could have gone to iHop, a food chain and got a breakfast special for $8 each, which would be $20.32 (tip and tax incl.) Still very expensive.
The other reason why we don't eat out in restaurants anymore-before you sit down to eat, ask to visit the kitchen. I dare you and I don't care what restaurant you are in. Take a good look at the kitchen and the people working in those kitchens.
Get back with me and tell me what you see. Also, read Anthony Bourdain's new book on Kitchen Confidential and what they DO to food. Nothing is wasted. Sunday brunches are the week's leftovers. Butter from previous patrons are filtered and reused.
Trust me, you will NEVER eat out again. The lowest of the low are used to prep foods, cut, grill, etc.
I'd rather eat at my home, thank you very much! Never mind the convenience.

Living Almost Large said...

Kitchens are not clean, I've waited tables all through college. But it's for the convience people eat out. It's not for the food.

I like the convience as well. Just not too often. The food is very fattening and I gain the weight easily.

MEG said...

I know people who claim it's more expensive to grocery shop than to go to a restaurant--but inevitably it's the people who a) don't know how to grocery shop and/or b) shop at Central Market or Whole Foods where they buy extremelly expensive (and healthy) meats, fishes, wines, spices, and even pre-made dinners and meals.

Of course if you compare apples to apples then it's far cheaper to eat at home. Food and beverages will ALWAYS be marked up by restaurants higher than what you can buy for THE EXACT SAME FOOD at the grocery store. Obviously you can't compare the primest cut of all-natural steak from a gourmet grocery store to the steak you'd be getting at Chili's.

Living Almost Large said...

OMG, whole foods is super expensive.

Anonymous said...

Clearly there is a real draw to eating out that involves more than just food or even convenience. It's a social experience, a time to sit back, talk, be served. I eat at home most meals and don't buy prepackaged stuff for those meals, but I'll never completely give up eating out as an activity, no apologies.