Is Eating Out Always The Worst Choice?
This blog gives lots of tips on how to save money on food. I have 2 great examples of that from the past, each one offering 5 tips: 5 Ways To Save Money On Food And Eat Well and 5 Foods That Will Help You Stretch Your Food Budget. There are others but those are pretty good if I say so myself.
Overall, I feel I’ve given the impression that eating out is always the worst option to take when you want to save money. In many ways it’s hard to not justify that position. However, since I do tend to eat out often, I know that’s not always the case; not even close.
As an example, last weekend I went out to breakfast with my wife to a local restaurant. She ordered what locally is called a “fritatta”, but it’s not the same thing as what the dictionary definition of one is. The picture above is what a fritatta is locally. As you can see, a portion of it was eaten; that’s the rest of it, and it’s a lot of food. I ordered what I thought was a much smaller menu item, but it ended up being almost as much food as hers, and I ate about the same amount.
We brought what we didn’t eat home. My wife portioned it out and put it into containers; she ended up with 7 more meals, which means we got 9 meals out of just 2 ordered. The initial price for those two meals… $15.50. This means it cost us $1.72 per meal for our foray out to a restaurant; isn’t that pretty remarkable?
One of the realities of today’s restaurant meals is that some restaurants, in trying to make sure we get our money’s worth, give us way too much food. Sure, sometimes we can eat it all, but most of the time when we do we feel stuffed and bloated. My wife has worked on me over the years, plus my getting older, to the effect that many times I’m not only getting a second meal out of something, but maybe even a third meal. That’s just phenomenal.
Sure, that’s still higher than what I share in the second article I linked to above, but it does help bring into focus the reality that not all meals are going to be extreme when you do decide to eat out, especially if you pick the right restaurants to go to. For instance, a cheese pizza from many places will cost around $10.00, and if cut properly often ends up with 8 to 12 slices. If you only eat 2 slices at a time, the cost of each meal is between $1.67 and $2.50, and the slices are large enough to make most people content.
Of course you have to go to restaurants where prices aren’t extreme and where they serve large portions to catch a break. If you’re looking at a $2,000 hamburger not only are you not going to save money, but you’re probably going to need two of them to fill you up; I wouldn’t recommend anything like that (gold leaf on a burger yet; yuck!). This is one reason why some people advocate eating at local restaurants, because they have a tendency to over-deliver on portions.
If you put the math together and use some judgment in your eating habits, you can easily afford to eat some meals out and not break your food budget all that much. Go out and give it a shot and see if it works for you.