Client Blog Post – Lifestyle/Home

Project description: My client requested a batch of articles for their lifestyle website. Typical content published on this website offered advice and insight on how to navigate life as a millennial. They desired an article that would highlight the benefits and drawbacks of both eating out and preparing food at home. We decided a compare and contrast article would be both informative and entertaining. 

Title: Eating Out vs. Cooking at Home: Which Option Really Saves You Money?

By: Samantha Greaves

There are significant benefits to eating at home and eating at a restaurant.

When you cook at home, you enjoy the benefit of eating at the dinner table, barefoot and in your pajamas. And when you eat out at a restaurant, you don’t have to worry about doing the dishes when you are done.

Both options have their pros and cons, but have you ever wondered which one really saves you the most money?

Here’s what I discovered when I compared the two.

Eating At a Restaurant vs. Cooking at Home

To measure how the two options stack up against one another, we would need to take a real menu item to see which option saves us the most money. 

As an example, let’s use a trip to the popular Italian-American restaurant, Olive Garden.

Many of us enjoy the convenience and delicious food Olive Garden offers. Besides their menu items, they provide restaurant goers with unlimited breadsticks and salad when you order. Yum!

For the sake of familiarity, let’s take their popular dish, Fettuccine Alfredo and compare how much it would cost to eat it at Olive Garden versus making it ourselves at home.

Using the basic ingredients used to make Fettuccine Alfredo, I am using Fresh Direct to help with my grocery list and will use their prices as a reference.

Considering that most of us would have the basic ingredients of salt, pepper, and garlic in our kitchen, we will consider the other ingredients to make Fettuccine Alfredo – those include fettuccine pasta, heavy cream, butter, and parmesan cheese. 

The Results

Olive Garden prices may vary depending on where you dine. For example, on the east coast, the cost of Fettuccine Alfredo, no meat, at Olive Garden, is about $16.99, excluding taxes. 

When we shop at Fresh Direct and add up the cost of our groceries, our ingredients will total (drumroll!) $26.15, also excluding taxes. 

The Option That Saves the Most Money

After seeing the above results, you may jump to the conclusion that eating out is more cost effective. 

Before you do that, we should consider some factors. 

When you purchase your groceries, sometimes you can also use the leftover items for future meals. My meal of Fettuccine Alfredo can double as leftovers for lunch the next day. We can also say this about the Fettuccine Alfredo purchased at Olive Garden, too. 

Another thing to consider when comparing eating out is the taxes on your dinner, drinks that you may have with your meal, and gratuity for being served. Oh, and we can’t forget about the gas needed to get to and from the restaurant or any other form of transportation that we may need to pay for.

When you consider all of this, cooking at home seems to be the winner in saving money. 

Not only will you be able to use your ingredients for a future meal, but you can save with coupons gathered for your grocery shopping, know the ingredients going into your meal, and have enough to feed two people at a few dollars more than it is to feed one.

How to Save When You Eat Out

Of course, there will be times when eating out may be the better option. In which case, you can still save while dining out with these three tips.

  1. Eat out at restaurants whenever they offer specials and discounts. For example, Olive Garden always has specials such as their popular three course meal deal for two.
  2. Before your visit, research valuable coupons that you can take with you for percentage-off or dollar-amount off discounts on your total bill.
  3. Skip the drinks and opt for water with sliced lemon or lime. When you order the drinks on a restaurant’s menu, you will probably pay double, even triple, what you would pay if you purchased the same drink at your local market.

For cost, eating at home will save you more money because chances are you will use most of your ingredients for two separate meals. You can eat out and save money too. Just make sure you budget your visit wisely.