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?