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Outsourcing counts. We do the math to see how much homemade copied recipes can save you.
Pamela is a freelance food and travel writer based in Astoria, Queens. While she writes about most things edible and drinkable (and accessories dedicated to those topics), her real areas of expertise are cheese, chocolate, cooking, and wine. She is a culinary graduate, certified sommelier, former bartender and chef with 10 years in the industry. When she's not behind the keys, she teaches homemade cheese classes, wine tastings and cocktail demonstrations.
Expertise Wine, cheese, chocolate, cooking.
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Listen, I understand. The decision to orderremoverrarely has economic roots. It's more about convenience, not having to do that.should, familiarity, a sense of comfort, or the satisfaction of an obvious desire. However, if you are someone who orders standard takeaway food, and especiallyleverage, more often than you think you should -it's me, hi- you should already be feeling the impact of all that food on your bank account. Preparing meals at home is often a more financially sound option than eating out or ordering delivery. This is not news. But that raises some questions: what if you learned how to make your favorites to take home? Does making a spicy chicken or Thai sandwich really encourage you to cook more?
We've done the math before to find out how much you saveshopping at costcoofTrader Joe's(spoiler: it's a lot). We made some more tables to see ifmeal kits were even more expensiveso do all the shopping yourself (spoiler: bad).
For this exercise, I considered eight relatively easy-to-prepare dishes that represent some of America's favorite dishes, then counted grocery and delivery receipts for the respective results and, more importantly, the difference between them. So now the big question is, how much can you really save by making your take-out favorites at home?
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Most popular takeaway items
Googling "most popular takeout in the US" turns up several websites that claim to have calculated these stats, so I consulted several of them and then zeroed in on the items or cuisines that popped up repeatedly. "Chicken" mysteriously tops the list of America's most popular takeout foods, without much context as to the chicken's shape. However, I think it's fair to assume that a lot of take-out chicken is deep-fried, either in bread, like wings, whole chicken pieces, or even fingers. If you can relate to the urge to order chicken (probably fried) on a regular basis, and especially if even just reading that sentence made you cringe reflexivelyuntiedon your phone, I already have some strong money-saving advice: invest in one nowfryer. (Seriously, small options starting at $50 will save you a lot of money in the long run.)
Other take-out favorites I've covered here includepizza, burritos, hamburgers, fried rice and pad thaipasta with cheese.
To-go versus make-at-home
|spicy chicken sandwich||Chicken fillets with fries||deluxe burger combo||Pepperoni-pizza||kip burrito||chicken fried rice||chicken pad thai||pasta with cheese|
|serving size||1 sandwich||1 order||1 order||1 large pizza||1 burrito||1 quarter||1 order||2 cups|
|Remover||$ 4,99||$ 10,99||$ 13,69||$ 15,49||$ 14,25||$ 11,75||$ 11,50||$ 13,29|
|leverage||$ 11,32||$ 18,86||$ 23,79||$ 24,25||$ 24,40||$ 16,88||$ 19,45||$ 24,98|
|DIY version||$ 2,78||$ 2,60||$ 4,63||$ 9,90||$ 4,10||$ 7,57||$ 6,47||$ 5,73|
|save versus collect||$ 2,21||$ 8,39||$ 9,06||$ 5,59||$ 10,15||$ 4,18||$ 5,03||$ 7,56|
|savings versus delivery||$ 8,54||$ 16,26||$ 19,16||$ 14,35||$ 20,30||$ 9,31||$ 12,98||$ 19,25|
Takeout vs. do at home: how I calculated
I used similar recipes to bring back favorites that are easy to find online.supermarket pricesthrough mainstream stores in my area (Astoria, Queens) to map out the cost of purchasing the items needed to make these recipes, following the path of least resistance whenever possible (i.e. making pizza dough and pizza sauce instead of invent both from scratch).
I scaled the cost based on the actual amount needed of a given item for each recipe. If you start with an empty fridge and pantry, you'll have to spend more up front, that's true, but over time, as you get more skilled with fake food, you'll start with a lot of stuff you already have in your pocket. House. Because the theme was cost savings, I used generic brands rather than private labels whenever possible.
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Takeout/delivery comparison prices were obtained through Seamless or Uber Eats. I opted for fast-food or fast-casual menus to compare prices, which are more specifically described below under "course by course". You can imagine even greater savings if you typically order from local, non-chain restaurants or bars. Tax and tip were also accounted for because that's the reality of delivery, right? (I've been known to spend $20 on a slice of carrot cake, since all allowances are accounted for just for the convenience of bringing it to me.)
A few notes on these stats: In many cases, delivery fees were too high due to a number of factors, usually delivery fees charged by the restaurant in addition to the tip you would give the driver. That's why I wrote down only the cost of the item, if you pick it up from the store yourself, and not sit on the couch waiting for it to be delivered to you. (it's me again, hi.)
Since I was only looking at the cost of that single item, any delivery fees charged by the restaurant are usually split between multiple items, assuming you ordered more than one item, and in some cases delivery fees are waived if you spend more. of a certain amount. However, if the reality of your life is, as mine is, that you are very willing to overlook this type of expense in order to fulfill a wish or make your life easier, and all you crave is that spicy chicken sandwich, for example, so my numbers reflect the true cost of getting just that item delivered to satisfy your whim.
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Plate by plate: where are the biggest savings?
spicy chicken sandwich
Working with "chicken" as a guideline, I went with what is becoming arguably America's favorite sandwich and compared the cost of a spicy Popeye chicken sandwich with the homemade version. If you usually pick it up at the drive thru, while the savings here are still close to 50% if you buy it at home, it only costs about $2. While every little bit counts in today's economy, I'm willing to admit it might not. be worth. But what if you have it delivered? That sandwich is more than doubled in price. Even considering the price of gas, I'd probably get in the car and go get it myself.
- Withdrawal cost: $4.99
- Delivery cost: $11.32
- Cost to make at home: $2.78
Breaded chicken with fries
Again, I opted for Popeye's here, but you can save even more if you order a basket of chicken fingers and fries at your local sports bar. I opted for frozen chicken tenderloins and frozen french fries here as a do-it-yourself version, partly because I believe in the almighty power of the airfryer, but also because I'm not crazy. Who in the real world cuts potatoes from scratch at home and fries chicken to save a few bucks? You save about $8 if you pick up your meal instead of preparing it at home, or about $16 for delivery.
- Withdrawal cost: $10.99
- Delivery cost: $11.32
- Cost to make at home: $2.78
deluxe burger combo
I've based the numbers here on the McDonald's Quarter Pounder and cheese combo, which includes fries and soda. Once you've thrown some frozen snacks and fries into the deep fryer (or the oven, if you're not already a convert), grilling a burger doesn't take much effort. And for your minimal effort, you can save nearly $20 if you resist the urge to hand it over. Pro tip: I freeze hamburger meat in 4-ounce portions in freezer bags already whipped into a hamburger shape, which takes very little time to defrost. Also a bonus here? Your fries are probably still hot and crispy if you didn't sweat them in the bag during delivery.
- Withdrawal cost: $13.69
- Delivery cost: $23.79
- Cost to make at home: $4.63
Taking the path of least resistance, my numbers here were based on a large Papa John's pepperoni pizza, rather than making my own with supermarket pizza dough, pre-made sauce, pre-shredded mozzarella and pepperoni slices. However, each of these elements can be even cheaper if you're determined to do it all. (Look up a pizza dough recipe that uses beer for one of the all-time best cooking hacks.) Even with the quick version, you can save between $10 and $15 by satisfying your pizza cravings at home.
- Withdrawal cost: $15.49
- Delivery fees: $24.25
- Cost to make at home: $9.90
chicken fried rice
There's something to be said for the economics of ordering from your local Chinese restaurant, especially depending on how many meals you can make from a gallon of fried rice. (If the answer is one, no judgment.) On the other hand, there's something to be said for how easy fried rice is to make, especially since you can customize it with whatever meat and veggies you have on hand. The only ingredients really needed are rice, eggs, and soy sauce. The savings here are more modest, but still not insignificant, and you can save about $10 in your pocket for 10 minutes of your time at the stove. (Aside from my love of deep fryers, if you have a goodrice panthing goes, this will be useful here too.)
- Withdrawal cost: $11.75
- Delivery cost: $16.88
- Cost to make at home: $7.57
There are savings to be made here if you're willing to make a pollo burrito at home yes, but I have to admit that there are certain X factors that can make Chipotle burritos worth their weight, one of those factors is the weight of the fillings that the team seems to want to give it. Also, I don't even know if you can find a Chipotle-sized tortilla in a regular grocery store. (They are literally a foot wide.) The other X factor for me is variety; you need to line up a lot of ingredients to really approach the Chipotle experience. That said, a modest and arguably better burrito made at home can save you up to $20 over having a Chipotle burrito delivered.
- Withdrawal cost: $14.25
- Delivery Fees: $24.40
- Cost to make at home: $4.10
chicken pad thai
Admittedly, pad Thai will have a little more specialty ingredients than you might already have on hand, like flat rice noodles and fish sauce. I cooked pad thai in a culinary education setting, but I appreciate howthis recipeuses several workarounds that bypass the need for even more special ingredients like tamarind paste or palm sugar. It's a little more complicated than fried rice, but there are certain bragging rights or complacencies that come with making pad thai from scratch, in addition to the nearly $13 in savings.
- Withdrawal cost: $11.50
- Delivery fees: $19.45
- Cost to make at home: $6.47
pasta with cheese
Panera is one of the most copied fast-casual chains when it comes to their recipes, and their macaroni and cheese tops the list. We brought you ways to spice up your fantasy beforemacaroni and cheese box, but if you really want a decadent experience, a copycat version of Panera's will set you back just over $5 worth of groceries, which equates to a savings of between $8 and $20 if you pick up or deliver.
- Withdrawal cost: $13.29
- Delivery fees: $24.98
- Cost to make at home: $5.73
Bottom line: Pickup and delivery are incredibly expensive
By my calculations, cooking your takeout meals at home saved an average of about 50% over ordering the same items to go, and a shocking 75% savings if you routinely have them delivered. (Delivery costs and driver tips are no joke, folks.) Conservatively, let's say you ordered each of these eight items once over the course of a month - that's about two pickups a week - the total savings compared to fulfillment was just over $50, and the total savings versus delivery was... wait... $120.In a month. Now look at that number over 12 months if you're basically someone who gets deliveries more than once a week - that's $1,440 in savings over the year. Imagine what this can bring you. (Certainly,a deep fryermust be fine, yeah?)
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By contrast, the average meal prepared at home costs around $4 for groceries – a $9 savings per person per meal. To put it another way, a $13 restaurant meal is about 325% more expensive than a $4 meal you prepare yourself.Is it cheaper to make your own meals? ›
Eating homemade foods is usually much cheaper than eating at a restaurant or buying processed foods from the market.
Some studies suggest that people who cook more often, rather than get take-out, have an overall healthier diet. These studies also show that restaurant meals typically contain higher amounts of sodium, saturated fat, total fat, and overall calories than home-cooked meals.Why are home cooked meals cheaper? ›
Obviously, when we eat at home we do the preparation, cooking and serving of the food ourselves and, therefore, do not need to pay the labor costs of cook, waiter and other restaurant staff. Similarly, we have no other overheads to pay for such as restaurant rent and high utility bills.What are the financial benefits of cooking at home? ›
Cooking at home saves money.
If the average bill per person for one meal at a casual restaurant is $13.75 and you eat out five times a week, your dinner bill for one month would be $275. For the same amount, you can probably shop for healthy, cheap raw ingredients that you can cook as delicious meals at home.
When you prepare your own meals, you have more control over the ingredients. By cooking for yourself, you can ensure that you and your family eat fresh, wholesome meals. This can help you to look and feel healthier, boost your energy, stabilize your weight and mood, and improve your sleep and resilience to stress.How much money do you save making your own food? ›
This extra money could be a big jump in your savings for long-term or short-term goals. Even if you only skip one restaurant meal a week in favor of cooking or leftovers, that's about a $500 annual savings. Another bonus: home-prepared food tends to be healthier than the typical restaurant meal.Is it cheaper to meal prep or buy meals? ›
While the average price of grocery costs shot up by about 12% in 2022, most meal kit services bounced between 5% to 8%, making them a better deal than ever. Not to mention the convenience of having all the ingredients sent and ready to prep a healthy meal.How much money do you save from not eating out? ›
That's according to a new TD Ameritrade survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults contacted between April 24 through May 4, 2020. About 78% say they've saved money by not going out to eat. That's savings of around $245 on average since the pandemic started.What is the average cost of home cooked dinner? ›
The average price per serving of home cooked meals is $4.31 – while the average cost of eating out is $20.37.
In 2018, 44 percent of all food spending was on food away from home. In 2018, the average consumer unit (similar to a household) spent nearly half of its food dollars on food away from home. Created with Highcharts 10.3.What is the cheapest way to cook meals? ›
Using slow cookers, microwaves and air fryers when you can, are all great options for low-maintenance, low-cost, low-carbon cooking. Microwaves: When comes to cooking quickly and cheaply, microwaves are going to be your best friend.Is home chef cheaper than groceries? ›
Stop Overspending on Meals!
With meals starting at $7.99, Home Chef is more affordable than shopping the same ingredients at a supermarket. Not only do our meal kits save you time, they can save you over $20 per entrée.
- Pro: You do not have to go grocery shopping anymore. ...
- Con: With all this food around, you are surrounded by temptation. ...
- Pro: Home cooked food is healthier (and better) than school cooked food.
- Con: Sometimes you just want junk food. ...
- Pro: Dinnertime allows you to spend time with your family and eat.
Cooking has all kinds of benefits beyond physical health, and some experts believe it might even be useful as part of psychotherapy. Research has linked cooking with happiness, relaxation, greater self-awareness, boosted confidence, and more.Do most people cook or eat out? ›
Are you cooking at home more than you used to and eating out at fast-food restaurants less? If so, you are right on trend. Today, 82 percent of the meals Americans eat are prepared at home, a much higher percentage than a decade ago, according to research from NPD Group Inc.How much does the average person spend on eating out per month? ›
And you've come to the right place. The average American dines out 5.9 times per week and according to BLS data, the average household spends about $3,500 on eating out every year, or just shy of $300 per month.Why is eating at home healthier than restaurant? ›
"When people cook most of their meals at home, they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, and less fat than those who cook less or not at all—even if they are not trying to lose weight," says Julia A.How to survive on $100 a week for food? ›
- Log what's in your freezer. ...
- Ditto for your fridge and pantry. ...
- Start your meal planning with a bag of rice. ...
- Make a strategic shopping list … and stick to it. ...
- Shop farmers markets toward the end of the day. ...
- Shop the freezer section for produce. ...
- Buy the store brand. ...
- Only buy meat when it's on sale.
In March 2023, the cost of eating out rose 8.8%, while the cost of eating at home went up 8.4%. Many restaurants have raised prices because of inflation, experts say. This could indicate that the cost of eating out may cost more than cooking at home.
If you're looking for a rule of thumb, I'd say if your grocery spending is under $1,000 per month for a family of 4 with older kids you're doing ok. Based upon the data, you could also say that food shouldn't be more than 10% of your income unless you're earning less than median household income.Do you save money by using meal kits? ›
Meal kits can be cost-effective in less concrete ways. They reduce the time and energy needed to plan meals and shop for groceries, which can hold you back from getting creative in the kitchen.What is the most efficient way to meal prep? ›
- Make a Meal Schedule Ahead of Time. Planning your meal schedule up to a week in advance is the secret to effective meal prep. ...
- Put Together a Grocery List. ...
- Prepare Components Ahead of Time. ...
- Make Double Batches. ...
- Use Airtight Containers. ...
- Try Slow Cooking. ...
- Fill Your Freezer.
For a single person eating three meals a day, you can expect to pay at least a bit north of $100 per week on food for meal prep. This number may change widely based on your circumstances. Compared to eating out, good meal prep can save you immense amounts of money in the long run.How to survive on $100 a month for food? ›
- Limit grocery trips to twice per month. ...
- Eat fiber rich foods. ...
- Keep a coloring book on hand. ...
- Practice Intermittent Fasting. ...
- Eat everything on hand before going back to the store. ...
- Swap meat for eggs. ...
- Eat lots and lots of pasta. ...
- Limit consumption of sugar and pre-packaged convenience foods.
- Set a Weekly Budget…and Stick to It. ...
- Pick Your Store. ...
- Learn How Grocery Sales Work. ...
- Look for Store Brands. ...
- Give Coupons a Try. ...
- Do a Little Prep Work. ...
- Cut Waste. ...
- Avoid Eating Out.
- Eggs, 2 1/2 dozen. $2.69.
- Potatoes, 10 lbs. $2.89.
- Carrots, 2lbs. $0.99.
- Cabbage, 2 heads. $1.98.
- Onions, 3lbs. $0.69.
- Corn tortillas, 2pkgs (60). $2.56.
- Pinto beans, 2lbs. $1.78.
- Salsa, 1 jar. $1.69.
On average, the cost of a mid-range restaurant meal for one person without drinks or tip is approximately $15 to $25. Higher-end restaurants can cost $30 to $50 or more per person. Fast food restaurants typically offer meals for $5 to $10 per person.How much should you budget for meals? ›
What's a reasonable food budget? Many financial advisors and gurus recommend spending no more than 10%-15% of take-home pay on food, a figure that includes restaurant dining and takeout.How do you calculate homemade food prices? ›
You take the cost of your ingredients and then you break it down into units, such as per ounce or per egg. You then multiply these per-unit prices by the number of units you use. You then add up all these individual prices to find the total food cost for your dish. This is your food cost.
Food is the primary way people connect with their community However, in recent years, there has been a significant disinterest observed towards cooking everyday meals. According to data shared by researcher Eddie Yoon in Harvard Business Review, nearly 90% of Americans don't like to cook.What does the average American household spend on food at home? ›
What does the average U.S. household spend on groceries per month? According to 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is the most recent available, the average spending on food at home is $5,259 annually, or about $438 per month for U.S. households.How often does the average American cook at home? ›
60% of women and 33% of men engage in food preparation on an average day. 61% of Americans say they cook a meal at home on Mondays, compared to 49% on Fridays. In 2022, 44% of Americans say they meal prep regularly.Is it cheaper to use a microwave or oven? ›
A microwave uses significantly less energy than either a gas or electric oven. To use your microwave for one hour every day would cost you about half the total energy of a natural gas oven and 60% less than an electric oven.What are the cheapest meals to live off of? ›
The verdict. Generally, an air fryer is cheaper to use than the oven, but this is not always the case.Is cooking at home more environmentally friendly? ›
Making food at home not only allows you to source sustainable ingredients, waste less food, and use less energy, but a home cooking, especially a diet rich in plants, means less impact on the environment.Are home cooked meals better for weight loss? ›
A study from researchers at the University of Washington found that home-cooked dinners were lower in fat, calories, and sugar — but not higher in grocery bills. The study also found that people who eat at home are more likely to meet U.S. government guidelines for a healthy diet.Is cooking a cheap hobby? ›
An Inexpensive Hobby
You only require a few basic kitchen utensils and ingredients to get going. It's cheaper to cook from scratch than ordering from your favourite takeaways.
TL;DR: Our verdict is that meal prep services are totally worth it if you have the budget and desire to reach a specific goal that is calorie controlled. You will save plenty of time and it can help reduce stress from meal planning. The downside is the cost, packaging, and storage space.
Some ready meals will be cheaper than buying all the ingredients separately, then again cooking up your own big batch of food to spread over a number of days, can save a packet, however, use some items, such as prepared vegetables, and you will pay a premium for convenience.Why home cooking is better than takeout? ›
When you prepare your own meals, you have more control over the ingredients. By cooking for yourself, you can ensure that you and your family eat fresh, wholesome meals. This can help you to look and feel healthier, boost your energy, stabilize your weight and mood, and improve your sleep and resilience to stress.Why does home cooking save money? ›
Eat at home instead of going out
You'll see the savings immediately if you compare the price of ingredients to a restaurant bill. Over time, eating healthy home-cooked food will mean lower medical bills and less misery compared to eating out. You'll cook with less fat, salt, and sugar than restaurant do.
It's proven to be healthier
Some studies suggest that people who cook more often, rather than get take-out, have an overall healthier diet. These studies also show that restaurant meals typically contain higher amounts of sodium, saturated fat, total fat, and overall calories than home-cooked meals.
Cooking practices of young consumers in North America 2022
Nearly 90 percent of North American Millennials cooked meals at home in 2022, according to a recent survey.
- It's Healthier. ...
- Happy Happy Happy. ...
- Brings the Family Together. ...
- Expands your Knowledge of the World. ...
- Cooking is a Money Saver. ...
- Time Management Skills. ...
- You Avoid Food Allergies. ...
- Confidence Booster.
Brings family together. Eating at home gives the entire family time to talk about their day. Ben's advice: “Studies show that when we eat together, our kids and family are much healthier. Eating together is linked to less obesity, kids doing better in school, and less substance abuse within the family.”What percent of Americans never cook? ›
28% of Americans Cant Cook - Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.How much money can you save by eating at home? ›
If you really want to dive into the weeds, you can also try to calculate your costs for each meal (at home) to really show the savings. My family went from an average of $2,000 per month between groceries and eating out to about $1,400 per month.Are most cooks male or female? ›
For those who want a quick and easy answer: It's generally cheaper to cook food at home than eat out. The reason so many people can get stuck on the question is the human psychology variable. People don't always spend wisely, and it isn't as if prices are always the same at a supermarket or a fast food restaurant.What is a realistic food budget for one person? ›
The average food budget for a single person is between $250 and $300 a month, but that's just a guideline. If you can buy meals at a discount or visit family and eat with them, you might be able to spend less.What is the 50 30 20 rule? ›
One of the most common percentage-based budgets is the 50/30/20 rule. The idea is to divide your income into three categories, spending 50% on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings. Learn more about the 50/30/20 budget rule and if it's right for you.What are the advantages and disadvantages of eating out and eating at home? ›
- You can try new foods. ...
- You do not have to cook. ...
- You get to spend time with family and friends. ...
- It's easier to feed large parties. ...
- It's Expensive. ...
- You can't tell what nutrients are in your dish. ...
- You can't control the way the dish is prepared.
- Homemade food is hygienic. ...
- Homemade food is healthier. ...
- Homemade food is low in calories. ...
- Homemade food provides a balanced diet. ...
- Homemade food is economical. ...
- Portion control is more manageable with homemade food. ...
- Easier to avoid allergic reactions. ...
- Good for children.
In my experience, homemade almost always trumps store-bought food in quality, taste, and price, and a lot of pantry staples are cheaper and easier to make than you might imagine.Is it cheaper to make pasta or buy pasta? ›
Pasta. To make pasta at home, it would cost about $1.50 in ingredients, but it would take almost an hour of labor-intensive work. You can save a little bit of time by getting a pasta maker, but considering you can grab a box of pasta from the store for $1, you definitely won't see any savings if you do this.What foods are worth making from scratch? ›
- Stock. If you only take one thing from this article, keep a container of veggie scraps in your freezer. ...
- Bread. This one can be as easy or as complicated as you want, depending on what you are trying to make. ...
- Hummus. ...
- Salad Dressing. ...
- Pasta Sauce. ...
- Pickles. ...
- Granola, Bars & Bites.
Homemade food typically contains fewer additives and preservatives than store bought products. This means that you can be sure your family is getting healthier, more nutritious meals when you cook them yourself. Store bought options may contain unhealthy ingredients or too much sodium or sugar for your liking.What is the cheapest ingredient in cooking? ›
Flour – Flour is the basic building block of most baked goods – cookies, cakes, and breads. It's also one of the cheapest ingredients you'll buy.