Eating Cheaply Can Save Your Wallet and Your Heart
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Eating Cheaply Can Save Your Wallet and Your Heart

Going to a restaurant certainly saves you time and effort, but it takes away money, and restaurant food is not always made with health in mind.

The average fast food meal is between 4 and 6 dollars. The average restaurant entree is between 8 and 16 dollars, not including the tip. We often go out and complain about high restaurant prices, but the truth is that these restaurants are offering a service (preparing and serving the food), and they have to recuperate their costs and generate a profit in order to keep operating. This includes paying the wages of all the waiters, waitress, chefs, hostesses, and managers, as well as purchasing the foodstuffs, covering the rent, and maintaining the location and all necessary permits. When you compare the embedded costs at a restaurant with those at a grocery store, as well as the fact that the foods there are not prepared and can be purchased in quantity, it's easy to see why saving eating out for rare occasions is a good thing for your wallet.

Today, 15AUG2010, I bought two tomatoes, six bananas, two pounds of chicken tenders (uncooked), two packets of taco seasoning, a pack of grated cheese, a bunch of cilantro, a bell pepper, a can of refried beans, a container of salt and pepper, and a 2 liter of cranberry ginger ale from the local Food Lion for about 16 dollars. I had previously considered patronizing the local Chinese food place, which provides a portion for about 8 dollars (I normally eat most of it and take the rest home while giving a $2 tip). Instead, I bought taco fixings from Food Lion and went home to prepare it. I prepared approximately half the food for the meal, and I ate about half of the cooked quantity at lunch, then had the other half for dinner. The food portions, then, will last for approximately four meals, and this comes out to about $4 a meal, which takes me well over twice as far as the Chinese place would for the same amount of money.

Eating out has definitely been my primary financial excess (I am sure that I am not alone in this). I probably developed the habit of doing so in college, where the "chow hall" provided quick and easy food that led me into the habit of having food cooked for me instead of doing it myself. Nevertheless, I continued the habit after college, and it means that I am probably spending between two and four times what I could be from a grocery store if I only cooked for myself every day. I hope to share this as an example of how to cut costs and save money, as well as a method of making eating out more enjoyable by doing it less often.

There is a second element of cooking your own food that is invaluable: the dietary effects. There is no telling just how much butter, oil, and other fats and creams that restaurants put into food. It certainly makes the food taste delicious and keeps you coming back for more, but this is not healthy! When you cook your own food, you know exactly what ingredients are going into the food, and this means that you can decide the fat or sugar content of whatever you are eating. Thus, in the long run, eating in is much better for all of us than eating out (especially compared to fast food!). Time may be a valuable commodity in today's fast-paced world, but isn't your financial and physical health even more valuable?

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Comments (5)

Outstanding! I enjoyed your convincing proof of how this is all working. And it is just a known fact that it is healthier eating what you make yourself. I am sure it is the time crunch thing that causes people to want to be waited on for fast food, and exhaustion for restaurant sit down meals. I like to cook, but I battle with time and exhaustion as do so many others. Well done here.

Toni Star

Good points! Like many, I enjoy eating out but one can save a bunch of money, calories and other negative qualities--by staying home and preparing inexpensive and well-balnaced meals. My husband and I are practically vegetarians and we feel so much better...

Right on! I also notice you bought ingredients instead of prepared meals in a box, can, or plastic bag. Amazing how many people don't realize that those salt-laden conveniences don't save much time or energy over cooking with ingredients--especially if they make enough to have leftovers later. Dugg.

Printable Coupons

A nice and well written article.. By buying your own foods, you know exactly the kind of ingredients that you use. But I think it's okay to dine out once in a while. A little treat especially during weekend. :)

Printable Coupons

A nice and well written article.. By buying your own foods, you know exactly the kind of ingredients that you use. But I think it's okay to dine out once in a while. A little treat especially during weekend. :)