Is eating at home cheaper?
October 12, 2006 11:31 AM Subscribe
Is it really cheaper to cook at home than it is to eat out?
posted by ivarley to food & drink (73 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
My wife and I have an ongoing debate about whether, ultimately, you actually save money by eating at home instead of eating out. She says that you obviously save money because eating out costs more for the same things - buying and cooking some ground beef being generally cheaper than buying a hamburger in a restaurant. I, on the other hand, say that the economies of scale make it cheaper to eat fresh, well prepared food in restaurants than at home, because they can buy and prepare in larger quantities (e.g. they're not buying a whole head of lettuce to just put one leaf on a burger). Plus, if you want take the "time is money" approach, the time spent shopping, cooking and cleaning is not insignificant (an hour a day?). So it's my contention that we ultimately don't save money by eating most meals at home, especially when we dine out for reasonable prices ($5-10 for lunch, $10-15 for dinner).
Now, I know that there are a zillion factors that can influence this in either direction: what kinds of food you eat, where you shop, your tolerance for leftovers, the area you live in, your cooking skill, etc. But what I'm looking for is some hard data (studies, for example). I want to know if there's any objective evidence, at a macro level, for one or the other approach being superior from an economic point of view. Surely someone must have studied this, no?