For my entire adult life, I’ve been astonished at the amount of money that many of my co-workers, peers and friends spend on buying their lunches everyday. I can’t wrap my head around spending $10 a day (if not more) solely on takeout lunches. Even when it comes to people who I know have far bigger budgets than I do — it’s still shocking that those people choose to throw away their money this way.
I’ll admit eating out these days is pretty appealing. In the age of social media, we’re constantly overwhelmed with photos of food, ads for food, and in big cities especially, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to where to eat. With apps like Uber Eats, the best food in the city is just a click away.
But when it comes down to it, making your own food at home saves you money, it keeps you healthier and it’s a great way to develop a routine.
Making your own food can save you more than $1,000 a year
It’s far cheaper to make your own food at home. It certainly takes a bit more effort — but the monetary savings are worth it.
To give you an idea of what exactly I mean, here’s a typical day of what I eat and how much it costs, versus how much it might cost to get a comparable takeout meal:
Home cooked meal: Coffee ($0.50) two eggs ($0.50), one piece of toast ($0.45), one tomato ($0.75) and half of one cucumber ($0.50)
Estimated total cost: $2.70
Takeout meal: One Sausage McMuffin meal from Mcdonalds ($4.19), or one Grande coffee from Starbucks ($2.35) and one breakfast sandwich from Starbucks ($3.95)
Estimated total cost: $4.19 — $6.30
Estimated savings by preparing food at home: $1.49-$3.60
Home cooked meal: Large salad with vegetables ($1.50), one chicken breast ($3), salad dressing ($0.50)
Estimated total cost: $5
Takeout meal: Salad from Chipotle, with chicken ($11), or custom salad from Freshii, with chicken ($13)
Estimated total cost: $11 - $13
Estimated savings by eating at home: $6.00-$8.00
Home cooked meal: Stir-fry with noodles ($0.75), vegetables ($1.50) and shrimp ($2.00)
Estimated total cost: $4.25
Takeout meal: Stir-fry with rice, vegetables and chicken from Teriyaki Express ($10), or pad thai with chicken from neighbourhood Thai restaurant ($13)
Estimated total cost: $10 - $13
Estimated savings by eating at home: $5.75 - $8.75
While I definitely eat my fair share of snacks throughout the day, I decided not to include them here, as many of them would cost the same regardless of where I got them from — for example, an apple or a protein bar.
So, based on the numbers above, a typical day of preparing my food at home would cost me around $12 (likely with some dinner leftovers that I could take to work the next day), while a day of eating out would cost me between $25 - $32. That’s a savings of $13 - $20 per day.
And while it’s not likely that many people eat takeout for every meal of the day, many people do buy takeout for lunch five days a week. Based on my numbers above, if those people were to make their lunch at home and bring it to work, they’d save between $30 and $40 — if not more — per week!
Add that up for a year, and even at the lower end of the range, you’re saving $1,560.
It’s also a heck of a lot healthier
Now that we know it’s definitely cheaper to make your own food at home, I wanted to point out how much healthier it is, too. It’s hard to quantify exactly how much healthier cooking at home is, because everyone has different tastes, different preferences and different ideas of what’s considered ‘healthy’.
However, what is for sure is that restaurants typically offer very large portions sizes: which will always translate to more calories, more fat, more sugar, and a lot more sodium.
I’ll admit that I’m very lucky to enjoy cooking, and am even luckier to have a boyfriend who also loves to cook (and is great at it, too). Because we both enjoy preparing our own food, we make it a priority to do so. Obviously, sometimes things come up that make it difficult to make every meal at home, but we try our best to do it as much as we can.
It helps that we don’t have kids, pets, or second jobs — meaning we have more time than some people to make sure we’re cooking our own food. It’s certainly understandable that people with any (or all) of those things will find it much more difficult to carve out the time.
My advice, though, is even if you can’t find the time to cook all of your meals everyday — make it a goal to make as much of your own food as you can. There are a ton of resources out there to help you shop, cook and eat smart: all you have to do is look for them, and I promise that your wallet and your body will thank you.