Long gone are the days when dining out and ordering in were reserved for socializing, celebrating, well-deserved breaks, and other special occasions.
Today, the average American eats four to five commercially prepared meals per week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When you consider that’s approximately eighteen restaurant meals per month, per person in a family, the cost of dining out at even relatively affordable restaurants can quickly spiral out of control — and that’s not including tips, tax, gas and parking, or taxis.
Moreover, because restaurants typically charge a 300% markup on the items they serve, an entrée that you pay $30 for, only cost $10 worth of ingredients to make. You’re paying more to cover the restaurant’s costs of doing business. According to The Motley Fool, if a family spends more than $3000 dining out each year, preparing the same meals at home could possibly save them $2000 — a savings that could be invested in an interest-bearing account, for example.
By cooking several meals at once — or enough of one meal to have leftovers that last — you can take advantage of additional economies of scale, decreasing your costs per meal. Using produce and protein delivery specialists are more economical than ever before and not only make meal planning, shopping, and preparation easier and more convenient but also guarantee you’re cooking with expertly sourced, high-quality food that typically cost far more in high-end establishments.
Beyond taking a bite out of your wallet, eating out could also be costing you your health. The USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion has found a correlation between eating out — especially at fast-food restaurants — and weight gain in children, and an increase in body mass index (BMI) in adults. Obesity, which is now epidemic in America, causes of a range of health concerns and issues, several of which can be life-threatening, and all of which can add additional financial burden to those affected.
The bottom line is this — while there’s no reason to forgo dining out completely, cooking at home even a few extra times a week can save you and your family calories and money — money you can stash away in your piggy bank for a rainy day, or treats that will last longer than a mealtime.