I first started thinking about this question several months back when I went to the store to prepare tacos for our family of three. I must've spent about $30 total on all the ingredients.
“Is eating in really that much cheaper than eating out?” I thought to myself. “I'll bet I could get all this at Taco Johns for half the price!”
Then, today, I read this article in the Fiscal Times: Why It’s Cheaper to Dine Out Than Eat In and I felt somewhat validated.
So, is it true?
Well, the article was based on a recent report released by Bank of America Merrill Lynch – so who knows if this is B of A's way of getting more people to use their credit cards at dining establishments. But they have a few good points.
Realizing that supermarket foods are going up about 6% every year (2.5 times that of restaurant prices) – the trend towards dining out being a cheaper alternative has some validity. While restaurants and the individual consumer are both feeling the effects of rising food prices – restaurants seem more able to weather this by their bulk buying.
The article lists several examples where eating out is cheaper than eating in. Among them:
10oz Ribeye Dinner (includes soup, salad and asparagus)
Total Price: $17.99
Bag Salad: $3.99
Asparagus: $3.99 a bunch
Seafood Alfredo (unlimited salad and breadsticks)
Total Price: $15.50
Fresh Shrimp: $5.33
Bag Salad: $3.99
While we could obviously counter these with other examples for and against – it is something worth noting. The restaurant prices do not take into account tips either – which could skew these results. Neither do they account for what it takes to drive to the grocer and spend the time preparing the meal (time = money).
This week, I am going to put some of this to the test, as I plan to eat out every day and attempt to spend less than $10 (for the week!).
Should be interesting.