Cook at Home More to Save Money on Food

Cook at Home More to Save Money on Food

So my goal this week was to cook at home at least six out of seven days and save money on food. We eat out way too much! I had my meals all planned out and the shopping done. It saves money to cook at home and it is much healthier. I cooked dinner Friday night for everyone – breakfast for dinner. Cooking at home is somewhat healthier than eating out and definitely cheaper and tastier. We really enjoyed our meal.

Cook at home with fresh foods and stainless steel pots.
Plan ahead so cooking at home is easy and you save money by not eating out.

Then, Saturday hit. Like most weekends, it was packed. A youth car wash in the morning, which ran into lunch. If you’ve ever been around teenage boys, then you know they simply must eat and often. We wound up ordering pizzas. I had a slice of cheese. I didn’t cook lunch. Then, I planned to fix dinner but we got a call that a church member had fallen and gotten hurt, so we went to pray with her husband and for her and just make sure everything was okay. By the time we were done, we went ahead and ate out with some friends.

Now, it is Sunday. We decided to grab lunch at Arby’s (yuck! I really don’t like their food much, but the company was great). As I sit here at 4:30 p.m. typing this, realizing I’m not hungry enough yet for dinner and likely will be too tired after youth tonight to cook.

I think my new cooking style is eating out. We eat at home so seldom these days that it almost seems like a treat to eat at home. I’m actually just kidding. My goal for the rest of the week is to have meals ready or in the crock pot and no more eating out, other than a lunch date I have planned with a friend already.

Cook at Home

The best way to make sure you cook at home more and eat out less is to plan ahead. 

  • Choose one day a week to prep your meals for the week.
  • Use your slow cooker! Throw a chicken in the crock pot in the morning, drizzle with dressing of your choice and let it cook all day.
  • Cook double meals and freeze one for another time when you are too swamped to cook.
  • Swap freezer meals with other families. You’ll each have a nice selection when you trade.
  • Don’t try to cook a gourmet menu when in a rush. Sandwiches, hot dogs or soup and salad is filling.
  • Enlist the help of older kids and spouse to get meals finished in record time.

Cook at Home FAQs

Running through the drive-through is so easy when you’re on the run. You may wonder how much you really save by cooking at home versus eating out.

Do you really save money cooking at home?

The short answer is yes, if you budget and don’t try to cook with expensive ingredients. Let’s face it, fast food is cheap. However, it also isn’t very healthy for you and you have no control over the ingredients. Instead of feeding your family French fries deep fried in some fat no one can quite identify, why not bake up some steak fries cut from fresh potatoes and topped with a bit of real butter and Parmesan cheese? You’ll save money down the line on doctor’s bills.

I don’t have time to cook at home!

Add up the time you spend going through drive-throughs and you’ll quickly find eating out doesn’t save nearly as much time as you think it does. For my family, we often had to go through two or more drive-throughs to satisfy everyone’s requests for specific food. I could have easily cooked a meal in the time it took me to pick up food.

How much money can I save?

It depends on how frugal you are, but let me give you an example. If I were to drive up to McDonald’s right now for my family, it would cost me about $22 to get the meals everyone likes. Not that expensive for sure, but for a family of four with two teen daughters, the costs add up. 

On the other hand, if I cook a meal at home, I can almost always do so for around $10. If I chose really frugal options and shop loss leaders, I can get this amount down even more. Plus, I almost always have leftovers for my husband’s lunch when I cook at home, saving even more money.

Do you have a specific amount I will save by cooking at home?

One study found that it is about five times cheaper to cook at home than to eat out. That’s significant, especially if you eat out more than once a week or have a large family. In the cost comparison, researchers studied 86 popular meals and included a small delivery charge for having food delivered. They found the restaurant meal averaged $20.37, a meal kit $12.53 and home cooking only $4.31 for the same comparable meal. 

Chart comparing home cooking cost, meal kit costs and home cooking costs.
Comparison on a meal at a restaurant versus home cooking. Source: Wellio

Choose Where You Save Money on Food

One of my philosophies in life is that it’s great to save where you can and be super cheap, but you also should experience life. If there is a restaurant you adore, go ahead and eat there from time to time. If it’s your birthday, go out. Celebrate with friends. If you’re saving money in other areas, you can afford the occasional indulgence. The key is the word “occasional.”

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Crabby Housewife

AuthorCrabby Housewife

Lori is a full-time housewife and writer, living in the Midwest with her husband of 27 years - they have two daughters. They have a house full of pets and her house is never quite perfect.