Examining the price of eating at home vs eating out
It seems like America’s appetite for food is insatiable. Instagram feeds are filled with plates piled high with pasta, perfectly grilled steaks and luscious desserts.
Beyond cooking at home, dining out has become a major part of American life. What started with the Michelin Guide has now grown into a full-blown industry. You can now count on James Beard and Zagat to tell you where to eat.
Spending money on food is essential. We need to eat to survive, and we’re always looking for our next great meal. But how much is our food obsession costing us?
Americans are spending more money on restaurant visits and dining out than ever before. Americans dine out on average 5.9 times a week. The average American family spends $3,365 on food away from home.
The shift toward eating out is part of a long-term trend. According to the consumer price index, 20 years ago families were spending approximately 10% of their income on groceries and about 5.5% on eating out.
These days the spending gap between the two has decreased considerably. Americans spend 7.2% of their budget on groceries and 6% on eating out. The pros and cons of eating at home versus eating out are often debated. Here are some to consider.
There’s almost no way around it — eating out will almost always cost more than cooking a meal at home.
Is it more expensive to eat out?
While the average cost of eating out varies dramatically depending on the restaurant you go to, most restaurants charge about a 300% mark-up on the items they serve.
When you eat out, you’re paying less for the food and more for the service, convenience and ambiance.
In order to make up for the cost of actually running a restaurant, the cost of goods is marked-up. You’re paying for time at the table, for someone to prepare the food for you and for someone else to do the dishes.
When you cook at home you’re able to completely control what goes into a dish.
Is it healthier to eat at home?
You are the master of your meal. If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies to worry about, you’ll be in complete control when you cook at home. Research has shown time and time again that cooking at home leads to healthier choices.
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