Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The High Cost of Eating Out

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Back when I was growing up going out to eat was considered a real treat.  Times have changed though and these days the number of people who eat out regularly has grown to the point that grocery store shopping is declining. 

According to Eddie Yoon of the Harvard Business Review, grocery shopping and cooking are in a long term decline.  He's conducted a survey that determined Americans fell into one of three categories:

- 10 percent said they love to cook
- 45 percent said they hate to cook
- 45 percent are ambivalent about cooking


These days it is easier than ever to not cook at home and simply eat out. In fact, the average household spent an average of $3,459 on dining out in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Yoon states that "even categories that can hardly be considered “cooking” — such as cold, ready-to-eat cereal — are losing sales as people buy breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, or even Taco Bell". 

In response to this issue there are even companies today like Fresh Start Foods and Home Chef, which have have created prepared meal kits that include everything needed to cook a quick meal delivered straight to your door. 


Although some of these companies offer special low prices to new customers,  the regular prices can be prohibitive for many people.The downside to the food subscription services is that the you will pay dearly for the time you save in convenience with these services.

Meal kits can be cheaper than eating at a restaurant, but they are still more expensive than buying the ingredients and cooking yourself. 

And these calculations don’t account for the fact that grocery shopping can mean you’re left with extra food that you won't have when you use a meal delivery service. 

For those people with the means to spend money eating out regularly this might not be an issue. But the majority of Americans cannot afford to engage in such a costly habit. Especially when it comes to not having money to pay for everyday expenses like insurance, or an emergency, or having no money set aside for retirement.

Our food budget is one of our bigger expenses each month, which means that we’re very interested in ways to reduce our food spending while also adding variety to our meals. 

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~
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46 comments :

  1. Tommy and I often comment on the cars in the parking lot at restaurants and the lines at fast food places. It is amazing and this is not an affluent community.

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    1. That is a good point. I've often said to my daughter to look at the lines at the fast food restaurants at lunch time. They are lined up all the way to the road in some of them.

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  2. It is amazing to see how many eat out and with families. I truly imagine they must be in debt up to their eyeballs (most of them).
    Even with those delivered meal deals I would think you would still have to prepare them. Can't imagine that would ever be for me.

    Our grocery budget is basically the one place that we can cut costs if we pay attention and shop right. I like to eat out once in a while (when I have a GC!) but for the most part I have always been a home cooking kind of gal.

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    1. I did the delivered meals one time as a friend gifted me one. I didn't enjoy it because I felt like I needed to cook it all at once as the food was fresh. I did end up freezing some of it though as it was too much at one time. It was definitely not for me.

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  3. It floors me how many people waste money eating out, plus the portion sizes and all the added salt and fat are not good for them. I love to eat out but I am too frugal to do it much.

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    1. Ditto, Kim. We've not eaten out in a while and are saving money as a result, which I love. :)

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  4. We eat out more often than we should. My husband has done well to cut his lunches out since he was sick and had the subsequent high blood pressure and pre-diabetes test results. I truly think it is much more enjoyable when done sparingly, but the call of a Taco Bell Chili cheese burrito is real.

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    1. LOL, Sam...I know the call of Taco Bell is real. LOL We really used to eat out a lot, but we have worked on it and reigned in it so much. It's a very pleasurable activity for us though.

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  5. Wasted more cash than I can calculate eating out through the years. Not one penny in budget for eating out today. We choose to prepare food at home and have for years. There have been times when guests required spending for restaurant food. It is rare, however. Christmas gift for family members was brunch/dinner at Peabody Hotel. Circumstances altered family plans. Wonderful memories and photos at Peabody, though. Others budget as they may, but eating other than from my own kitchen would be wasteful for me, and I prefer my kitchen's fixings.

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    1. We have wasted a lot of cash on eating out thru the years too, Anna. And there are some dishes we make that no one else has, so we have to make those. :) Your memories from the Peabody sound so neat.

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    2. Christmas brunch/dinner was my family memory-maker. Cost per person was $25 including gratuity, the first Christmas in mid-90's when DH and I and a family member strolled through The Peabody lobby to enjoy decorations and music. Often, a college football team waiting to play in Memphis Liberty Bowl was housed at Peabody and among guests at the buffet. In the Peabody Museum , we annually read President Harry Truman's letter to Bess. Never tired of gingerbread and chocolate creations around the lobby. I have not been for Christmas brunch for about 5 years. Price escalated to $163 per guest last year, plus gratuity. 3 of our family still enjoy early noon dinner at one of Peabody's restaurants on Christmas Day and a walk through the lobby and rooftop visits to ducks.

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    3. Oh, what a neat memory to read about, Anna. If I ever get to Memphis I'll have to stop in and see the Peabody. :)

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  6. The funny thing is some people who eat out all the time also spend thousands of dollars renovating their kitchens! 😊

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    1. Oh wow, I hadn't even thought about that, Nil. LOL

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  7. I do enjoy going on the meal delivery sites and looking for new meal ideas though. 🙂

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    1. Oh, I like that idea, Nichole. I'm going to do that now too. Thank you for the tip.

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  8. We rarely eat out, I cook everyday. Of course, if I were working twelve hour nursing shifts like my granddaughter, I'm not so sure that would be the case. We spend the majority of our monthly budget at the grocery store, but less on gas as we used to since we are now retired, so I'm thinking it all evens out.
    Interesting study.
    ~Jo

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    1. Sounds good, Jo. We also spend a big part of our budget at the grocery store.

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  9. You hit the nail on the head again, Belinda.
    Something that totally blows my mind is when people say it costs as much to buy groceries and cook as it does to eat out! I thought that was CRAZY talk--until I saw some of their grocery shopping trips! Hey! It takes THOUGHT and PLANNING and WISDOM to make good choices at the grocery store. Eating well at home can cost a FRACTION of eating out.

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    1. Thank you, Susie. And I agree with you completely, eating at home can cost a fraction of eating out, it just takes planning on our part to make that happen. And for the money we save it is more than worth it.

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  10. We use to eat out A LOT! Since I retired early, we eat out maybe twice a month and that is usually pizz and beer. Compared to before I retired, we ate out maybe 3 times a week? It was ridiculous, lol.

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    1. I know what you mean, Lisa. Now that my daughter is grown she understands that eating out is a treat and not something that should happen on a regular basis.

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  11. Hello belinda, some how I found your blog :-)
    Yeah I am follower 80 :-) Nice to meet you, and i adore your blog...
    Blessings, Renee'

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    1. I'm so glad you found your way here, Simply R. Thank you for following my blog. I sure do appreciate that. Thank you so much for your kind words. :)

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  12. I do love to eat out. DH & I are pretty frugal about it and budget it in our grocery bill. We chose local diners and you will never see us at the big chain establishments. I eat dinner out twice a week. The rest of the week is simple meals at home.

    Going to the diners and being regulars really helps. I can get meals I would normally not make because it would cost to much. DH & I both have food allergies and diet restrictions. Buying all that food would not be frugal. I have tried and it was a lot of waste and very expensive in the end trying to fix each meal for our restrictions. The diners know us so, for example, they know I want extra veggies, no bread & tailor my meals to my food allergies. A lot of times I can get these dinners for $5. When I tried to make the same meals at home it would be so expensive and we could not use the grocery items again because of our diet restrictions. Then there was a lot of food waste. Diners help me have a varied diet and not have a nutritional deficiency.

    I think eating out can be very frugal but you have to know how to do it and I think you also have to be a regular at your places so you can know the discounts, the staff, etc... I use to live in an area with a lot of elderly. They ate out a lot on fixed incomes but they taught me so many tips and tricks for doing it frugally.

    When I do eat out DH & I we bring our meal home, we make our drinks at home. We always tell the diners to not give us condiments because we have our own. They really do appreciate not asking for condiments because those things cost them money. Doing small things like that also saves money. DH & I are
    small eaters. I think this is a big one for saving money eating out. I noticed when people do eat out they are buying drinks, appetizers, dinner & dessert. DH & I are just getting dinner, and none of the other things. I do sometimes get dessert at one of my diners because they make the best homemade pies, lol. I can get a whole pie for only $5. Have you seen the price of pies at the supermarket lately? The last time I checked they were nearing $9.

    I spend less eating out than if I bought groceries. I know in the frugal world the mantra is prepare your own meals. I have really tried but I never found it frugal even though I am a very frugal grocery shopper. Every week I do budget out diner meals for DH & I in our $50 food budget.

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    1. That is the best way to do it if you're going to eat out, Safyne. And OMG on the price of pies at the supermarket anymore. They are getting expensive. We are not big dessert fans though, so we do ok in that department. Sounds like you and your dh have eating out in a frugal way that works for you. That's great!

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  13. My weakness is not eating out although we eat out a couple of times a month but my real weakness is Sonic ice coffee ☹️ I have tried making it at home but no luck..

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    1. I watch Moss Family TV YouTube channel and she drinks iced coffee. She makes it different each time, but it might inspire you. I've not had the Sonic iced coffee, so don't know how it tastes. I love their Iced Tea and their Strawberry Lemonade. They are both so good.

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    2. Lol did you go get one? Hey can I add a link to your blog on mine?

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    3. No, not today. They are really good in the summertime when it is hot. You sure can add a link to my blog on yours. Thank you, I appreciate that. :)

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    4. Lol I have to have Sonic ice coffee even in winter... Lol I'm a coffee addict. Awesome. Thank you

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    5. It sounds good. I'mot a coffee drinker although I do like the smell of it. :)

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    6. I use to not like it, then I started drinking it 18 years ago. Lol now I love it

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    7. If I drank coffee I would like a nice creamer in there too. They have so many varieties these days.

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  14. Yes. I tried Starbucks fall blend which is good tasty hot coffee. Got it at walmart., Then pumpkin spice at Walmart as well

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  15. Thank you for dropping by my blog, not many come to it .
    LOL Hubby asked if I already went through one vanilla creamer rofl I said I had to make up for missing one day of coffee

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    1. LOL! That's right you have to make up for that one day. LOL

      You're welcome. I was glad to visit your blog.

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  16. We try hard to make eating out both an occasional experience, and an actual "experience". Not something that happens due to poor planning. We could afford to eat out a bit more, but it's not a priority (we'd rather spend the money in other ways) & it's not particularly healthy.

    I did have a fail this week, and took three kiddos to In & Out for dinner. Those are pretty rare for us, so I don't mind the occasional splurge with the kids. For them, eating out is a rare occurrence, so I also think they appreciate it so much more than friends who are always eating out

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    1. I agree...I think they appreciate it all the more than others who eat out on a more regular basis.

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  17. Hi Belinda I hope you have a Blessed weekend 😊

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    1. Thank you so much. I have been feeling under the weather and didn't even get online yesterday. I hope you have a blessed weekend too.

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