Vanquishing My Debt

I'm 29 and trying to get a handle on my finances so that, one day, I can buy a home of my own. I've been reading personal finance blogs recently and decided to start one chronicling my own struggles and success (hopefully). I am lucky, considering the amounts of debt and tales of tragedy I've read about... but I am making some positive changes and moving in the right direction.

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Eating Out is Cheaper than Cooking at Home?

I just read this article on MSN, titled "Is eating out cheaper than cooking?", which proposes that after buying ingredients and soending time to prepare a meal for your family, it is easier and more cost effective to go out. Is this possible?

I think it is possible if you're not a careful shopper. If you get off work at 5 and immediately stop at the grocery store to pick something up because there's nothing thawed or planned at home, yeah, okay, I can see how this adds up. Especially if you're not budget consciously choosing cheaper items. But still, this is just baffling to me.

Usually when I cook, a dinner for both of us costs about $5, including salad or veggies, meat or main entree and some kind of side dish. But this is because I buy things on sale and stock up, so I've accumulated a freezer full of 97 cents/lb chicken breast and $1 boxes of pasta. I buy veggies according to what's on sale and in season, and I have ingredients to make numerous side dishes like flavored rice, couscous or potatoes.

But when we go out (a hard habit to break, I have to admit), we usually end up spending between $15 and $25 for a meal for two. It's starting to get hard to stomach spending $25 plus tip at the Olive Garden when I know I can make fettucine alfredo and breadsticks at home for a few dollars. I think the only meal we eat out that rivals our cooking costs is the $5 large pizza from Little Caesar's.

This article also quotes people that have factored in the cost of the time they would have spent cooking the meal (something that I don't do) which also makes the cost of going out to eat much sweeter.

Is it different for a large family? Do you factor in the "cost" of your cooking time when calculating your meal costs? What do you guys think of this article?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should only factor in the time for cooking if you will use that time to make money. What is the point of going out to eat, because you are saving time cooking, if you come home and sit on your fat butt to watch TV ?!?
My time might e worth good money while I work at my day job, but it is worth a lot less the next 15 hours.
Peace out

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Savvy Samurai said...

I think you can save money in both cases if you look for good deals. Although I try to bring lunch to work by making extra portions from the night before, its hard to beat the $1.89 beef burrito at my work cafeteria. But then again I would say attempting to eat healthy would be cheaper if you cooked at home.

12:57 PM  

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