The Cost of Eating Out Compared to Home Cooking

Cost of Eating Out

Cost of Eating Out

One survey shows lower prices

A Bank of America Merrill Lynch report claims eating out is less expensive than eating at home. The study focuses mostly on how most people are choosing to spend their time, saying that the time savings from eating out are worth more than the time it takes to prepare meals. Over the past few years, restaurant prices have been going up between 1.5 and 2.5 percent per year; supermarket prices are going up about 6 percent per year. More people are choosing to use their extra time to pick up additional work, rather than cooking their own meals.

Doing the math of eating out is usually simple – just determine whether time you save not cooking is worth the extra cost of a restaurant meal. One recent study claims that, with current price fluctuations, eating out may actually be less expensive.

The Fiscal Times numbers

A comparison by the New York City based Fiscal Times says that it is cheaper to eat out than it is to buy groceries. The Fiscal Times’ numbers say that:

OutBack Steakhouse
10oz Ribeye Dinner (includes soup, salad and asparagus)
Total Price: $17.99

Grocery store
Ribeye: $9.55
Soup: $2.99
Bag Salad: $3.99
Asparagus: $3.99 a bunch
Total: $20.52

and that:

P.F. Chang’s
Beef and Broccoli (includes white rice)
Total Price: $12.75

Grocery store
Flank Steak: $9.79
Broccoli: $2.99 ea
Rice: $2.79

Total: $13.04

[Getting installment loans to pay for needed expenses can be a good idea, but not to pay for eating out.]

The problem with these numbers

Just like the KFC commercial from a few years ago, these numbers ignore one very important fact: purchasing ingredients for a meal and a single serving of a meal at a restaurant are two very different things. A whole flank steak, a box of rice and a bunch of broccoli could create between two and five servings of a meal, not just one. Split into the number of meals one can make, the ingredients become much less expensive.

Restaurant prices going up

A Restaurant News survey has found that most restaurants expect to hike prices between 4 and 6 percent in the next few months. These price increases are partially due to the rising cost of ingredients and partially due to the increase in labor costs.


Nation’s Restaurant News
The Fiscal Times

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