Cooking at Home is Cheaper, Seriously!



I follow Dave Ramsey on Facebook and see his daily tips often. This one really caught my attention though because for me, it seems so completely obvious. It applies to quite a few different facets of life but my big take away of course was with eating. Since our family has made major changes in our eating over the course of several months, eating out is much the treat now rather than they every day that we used to make it.

If your budget is tight, don’t spend money on things you could easily do yourself.

I often see people talk about how false it actually. Their claim is that with so many fast food options offering dollar menus that there’s no way you can eat at home for cheaper so I challenged that. Here’s just one example:

Our actual order from the last time we went to McDonald’s (with an attempt to eat healthish while on the road during a vacation.) We have 5 members in our family: 2 adults and 3 children.

  • (2) McDoubles $1 each
  • (2) Side Salads $1 each
  • (2) Single Cheeseburgers $0.97 each
  • (1) Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait [to share] $2.49
  • (1) Large Fry [to share] $2.19

TOTAL for one meal: $10.62 plus tax

Now, in comparison:

  • Ground beef $2.49/lb [1 lb. needed to directly compare to McDonald’s portions from above]
  • (24) American cheese slices $0.99
  • (8) hamburger buns $1.49
  • (1) bag fresh lettuce $1.99
  • (1) bottle of salad dressing $1.29
  • (1) 32 oz. container of fruit yogurt $2.99
  • (1) 10 lb. bag of russet potatoes $2.99

TOTAL $14.23

Yikes, all the naysayers are right. McDonalds was cheaper… WRONG. My shopping trip left us with enough food for at least an entire second meal (not including the ground beef) PLUS leftovers of more potatoes, more cheese, and more salad dressing for a third and even fourth meal.

Now just imagine how expensive that meal would be if you were at say Applebee’s instead paying $6-9 per person.

Food for thought. Do you eat out often? Is it in your budget or do you always go over? Any favorite recipes for things you recreated at home?

P.S. We can have fresh cooked burgers, salads and homemade skillet seared potato cubes (in place of fried French fries) on the table in less than 20 minutes. By the time you pack 3 kids in the car, drive to the nearest restaurant, unpack 3 kids from the car, order and wait on your food you could have been well on your way to devouring the homemade version.

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6 responses »

  1. That is so true. I have been advocating cooking at home from the age of 12. My mother would give me $5 to go to the store, just 1/2 mile from home, and buy food for dinner. I had to have a main meal, one side dish of vegetables and desert if at all possible. This was to feed a family of 6, 2 adults, 4 children ranging from 12 to 1 year old. The incentive was that I could keep what ever change I had out of the $5. Yes this was in the 1960’s when food cost less, but I know I could do it today for $10 and come back with change. I learned to shop for the best ingredients at the lowest price and didn’t just take the first thing off of the shelf, I looked at price per ounce, no calculators then, just used my head. It taught me a very good lesson, which I have followed the rest of my life. Just because it has a high price, it is not the best. There are many very good food products that are lower priced and of the same or better quality than the “name” brands.

  2. I couldn’t agree more my family will usually spend about $20 at McDonalds. I could feed my family at least 2 meals (probably 3 and part of 4) with that same amount of money and it will be much healthier. One dinner at Chilis is equal to my weekly grocery budget. We no longer eat out unless we have a gift card some one has given us…My only indulgence is take n bake pizza from Papa Murphys but we only get the $5 favorites.

    I saw your post on NaBloPoMo…happy writing.

  3. Pingback: #NaBloPoMo is… DONE! A Recap of 30 Days | Our Magical Chaos

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