Tonight I got to thinking about how often I go out to eat. Knowing the costs of this, I have purposefully tried to stay in more and actually learn how to cook. For one person it seems almost as wasteful to cook and have all these leftovers, so I decided to put pen and paper to it.
Going out to eat at a restaurant like Chili's:
If you are like me, you actually want to eat something filling once you go out to eat. True I often have leftovers, but assuming it's one of those nights I scarf down a rack of ribs (this has been known to be true), I would end up spending between $15-20 after getting a soft drink and tip.
Now, you could save money by drinking water only...no adult beverages...no dessert, eating the special. But you know as well as I do that once you have decided to spend the money on going out to eat, you don't want to think about the money aspect. *But I do suggest drinking water at restaurants often. It'll save you a bundle.*
So we'll say $17 for 1 at a chain restaurant like Chili's.
Cooking at home:
Let's say for the sake of saying that whatever you decide to cook you already have the little things like salt, butter, etc. since those are typically once in a blue moon purchases. What would you cook? Me--hot dogs. I am the worst cook in America, and my fiance is fully aware of this and chose to propose to me anyway. But let's say I chose to do the one recipe I know I can do, in a crock pot nonethless. I'd probably put pulled pork in the crock pot, and this is a recipe you don't want to forget!
~2 lbs of Boston Pork Butt--$6
20 oz. of root beer--$1.50
Get original bbq sauce; I think it tastes the best. But make sure you get a bbq sauce you really like. That will definitely make a difference. W'ell also want some other items with our meal.
fresh green beans--$3
2 lt Dr. Pepper (holler!)--$1.50 (or you can go with Dr. Thunder like I do and get a steal at $.87)
So to eat alone after cooking at home, we're looking at $22. Initially, we would think this is more expensive. However, realizing we could eat our pulled pork meal at least 3 times, this averages out to $7.33 each meal.
Cooking at home takes home the blue prize here.
Going out to eat:
Let's take a place like Chili's again. They do have 2 for $20 deals, which is probably a good price and better than what a single person could do by themselves. After tip and everything, we'll have spent upwards to $30.
Cooking at home:
Same meal, same price. $22.
Again, cooking at home takes the prize. You will find the more people in a group or family, the cheaper it will become to eat at home. The test is if you can cook! Well, that's my test anyway.
Some people might ask: what if you decide to cook a nice meal at home with a bottle of wine, etc? Well, you would probably be eating a similar meal at a restaurant. Therefore, we assume our charts would be parallel to what we've already found.
So...Get out those cookbooks, find one online, or look on backs of packages at stores. Plenty of recipes are out there. And enjoy a dinner with your family or friends. You won't even have to leave a tip afterwards!
Stay smart. Be savvy. Save money...