Economics of eating out

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roamin survivor
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Economics of eating out

Post by roamin survivor » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:26 pm

I was having lunch at a noodle shop and was thinking about the cost of eating out vs cooking. Something came to me: I'm eating at the noodle shop because:

1. Fairly inexpensive at $5
2. I would never cook it at home due to ingredients and cooking skills

I began to recall my eating habits as well. I usually ate out at places where I would never cook that type of food or if it was new to me. Ethnic foods are probably a good example as the specialized ingredients would only be used once or twice. Additionally, some items require non-conventional, long, or negative (i.e. stinky, messy) process.

So, do you evaluate the costs when choosing to eat out? Does the time/material/skill cost play a factor?

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investor.saver1
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by investor.saver1 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:44 pm

We only occasionally eat out because doing "occasionally" results in significantly more pleasure for us. The cost does not really play any role. Yes, when it comes to ethnic foods, dining out is preferred due to the fact we do not have the ingredients in our pantry.
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norookie
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by norookie » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:49 pm

:D Is outrageous. JMO, Egg drop soup, 4.99, retail. Home made with .99 cent a dozen eggs, :greedy well you get the picture.
" Wealth usually leads to excess " Cicero 55 b.c

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Liquid
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Liquid » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:55 pm

Can't beat eating out, McDouble 1$.

4strings
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by 4strings » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:57 pm

Image

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by 4strings » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:58 pm

Image

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joe8d
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by joe8d » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:11 pm

Liquid wrote:Can't beat eating out, McDouble 1$.
My " eating out " is limited to 2 for 1 offers at McD's and BK :)
All the Best, | Joe

coldplay221
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by coldplay221 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:51 pm

Number of people eating out makes a difference in my thinking.
Moreover, its healthier eating food at home in general.

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ElJay
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by ElJay » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:25 pm

The time and hassle of eating out is more of a factor for me than the cost. A nice sit down dinner takes at least 45 minutes, and that's assuming an attentive server and functional kitchen. In addition, the restaurants I'd want to eat at are on the other side of town, a good 20-30 minute drive from home in each direction. On the other end is fast food, which is frustrating far too often with frequent errors made by uncaring staff or the severe lack of "fast." More and more I'm choosing to spend the time to cook something at home because it's ultimately faster or less frustrating (and much more predicable) than the other options.

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by bluemarlin08 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:42 pm

We owned a catering company and are very good cooks. We discovered we are too demanding of excellence, that dining out, unless at higher end restaurants, was a frustrating event. We do much more cooking, much more predictable and at times less expensive, especially wine costs.

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momar
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by momar » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:44 pm

I find restaurants are often too loud (high ceilings and big open room) and the servers are too unprofessional.
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by eschaef » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:52 pm

Post college, living on my own at $12/hr for a stretch, I learned the value of eating at home. And I felt healthier. Also, I lost 20 pounds I didn't even know I had, without changing a single other thing about my daily lifestyle. :shock: Maybe it was the green tea I started drinking?

With starting my new job recently, I had a stretch where I was eating out almost every day. I tire of it quickly. It just means it takes longer until I finally get home. Or having to wait for it to get delivered. Or fast food. Blah. I'd rather go home and have bread, cheese, and a glass of wine for dinner if I'm too tired to throw something together.

Helloeeze
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Helloeeze » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:01 pm

I really enjoy eating out. I find that the social part of it is very relaxing, enjoying food with friends or just my immediate family. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it's nice if it's at a sit-down restaurant. We eat out every Friday night. Lately, it's just Denny's and get a chicken burger and a salad instead of fries, something simple they can't screw up too badly. There is no wait at Denny's. Everyone is at the fancy places. I consider it a real treat because I don't have to plan and cook something and then do the cleanup.

It's true. It's very fattening at restaurants. So I go online and figure out what's the lowest calorie meal at a restaurant and get that.

Also at some places if you take home a portion of your meal, say, pasta, you can eat it the next day for dinner, too. Just make a salad to go with it. Makes it a little more cost effective.

stoptothink
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by stoptothink » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:14 pm

I could easily go the rest of my life without ever eating out again. As a nutritionist and boglehead, it makes zero sense to me from both a nutrition and financial standpoint. I recognize that some people enjoy the experience(eating out daily was a "need" according to my ex-wife), but I just don't get it.

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by travellight » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:21 pm

I love eating out; they cook much better than I do. I try to make my dinners at happy hour so I can do it cost effectively.
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brianH
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by brianH » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:35 pm

I haven't found any meals out that are cheaper than making them at home from a pure $ perspective. Even something like the $1 cheeseburger from McD can be done (Wegmans' prices):
1/8 lb ground beef: $.25 ($2/lb)
Roll: $.25 (8 for $2)
Slice cheese: $.16 (16 for $2.59)

That still leaves $.34 for electricity and ketchup. The differences obviously get much higher with 'premium' meals at steakhouses and seafood places.

More important, though, is the health aspect. I don't know what type of trans-fat, rancid oils, fillers, and additives are in restaurant meals...though I can guess they ain't pretty.

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market timer
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by market timer » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:03 pm

I've eaten out just about every meal for the past 12 years, including breakfast (typically just a bagel and coffee). This is because I've lived in areas without a car, that are densely populated, and offer great restaurants along whatever route I'm taking. Even as a college student, I valued my time at about $30/hr, so it was easy to justify spending $9 for dinner (this was a decade ago) at one of the many ethnic restaurants where I was a regular, since it meant not ever shopping for groceries, preparing food, or doing dishes. People who cite health concerns must be referring to fast food, which I avoid. Of course, cleanliness could be an issue anywhere.

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by KyleAAA » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:04 pm

I enjoy eating out, but usually only ethnic food or at nicer restaurants. I can make better food for less at home than most fast food joints. I can't recreate a fine dining experience at home, though.

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joe8d
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by joe8d » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:57 pm

brian wrote:I haven't found any meals out that are cheaper than making them at home from a pure $ perspective. Even something like the $1 cheeseburger from McD can be done (Wegmans' prices):
1/8 lb ground beef: $.25 ($2/lb)
Roll: $.25 (8 for $2)
Slice cheese: $.16 (16 for $2.59)

That still leaves $.34 for electricity and ketchup. The differences obviously get much higher with 'premium' meals at steakhouses and seafood places.

More important, though, is the health aspect. I don't know what type of trans-fat, rancid oils, fillers, and additives are in restaurant meals...though I can guess they ain't pretty.
For a hamburger,it makes more sense to buy one. You can't get those small portions at Wegmans and even if you could, you have work in prep and cleanup.
All the Best, | Joe

Balance
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Balance » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:02 am

The fiance and I eat out probably once a week if not twice. We live in the SF Bay Area and we have great restaurants here, probably second only to NYC. We like to eat at ethnic restaurants that serve authentic cuisine, we never go to any chain restaurants, they are mostly family owned restaurants. Although we make very nutritious meals at home, we go out to eat in the city at least once per week for a night out on the town to hang out with friends/family and at the same time we grab a bite to eat.

Also, we find that eating at home does save money but not as much as other people save. We mostly eat organic foods from local farmers markets or Whole Foods. Pastured eggs, grass fed beef, and organic produce is a lot more expensive than conventional. But in our opinion, we feel that it is an investment in our own health which is the biggest investment that we believe we can possibly make.

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tooluser
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by tooluser » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:09 am

Eating out is an entertainment expense.
Just like playing the lottery.

There are other options for achieving your goal, but there are offsetting values as well.
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:10 am

eating home is enormously cheaper than eating out, for a family of 4. I can make a super-delicious home meal for say $15 that will last 4 of us 2 nights. We go out to eat and it's never less than $50 for dinner and often closer to $80-100 - and the kids are only 2 and 4! That said we love eating great food and are willing to eat out just because we like to. We can afford to.

One thing I find helpful to remember is that while it's worth shopping grocery store sales and trying to buy in season to save money, it is almost never worth not buying the thing you really want at the grocery store, in order to save money, but then eating out instead. Buy the danged choice steak instead of the select, or even the prime if you can find it, if it means the difference between eating home and eating out. Because even with a $20/lb steak in your grocery cart, eating home will be much, much cheaper than going out.

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by yobria » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:33 am

Eating out for me is mostly social, and when I do I prefer food I can't cook (as well) at home - most meals out involve either dim sum or sushi. Thai, Italian, French, Mexican I can cook pretty easily.

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livesoft
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by livesoft » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:02 am

We eat out quite a bit, but very rarely fast food. Seated restaurant meals can be healthy and inexpensive in our area as there are many, many restaurants to choose from that are very close by. We often take half the meal home to eat the next day. So economically we spend about $10 a person and take half the food home, that's $5 a person per evening meal with no shopping, cooking, cleaning, or arguing about choices. We have favorite restaurants so the staff know us very well. Overall, a very, very pleasant and fun experience.

Let's say I eat out 3 nights a week, so make that $60 - $75 a week. Add in inexpensive breakfast, and salads for lunch and one has quite a low food budget of about $100 a week. Not too bad for what you get.

Furthermore, our kids have learned how to get a good table, how to read menus, how to order water, how to deal with other adults, how to greet friends we meet in the restaurant, how to use a credit card, and many other social network skills.
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heyyou
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by heyyou » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:41 am

Most ethnic food is just the fast food of another culture. Please, please, continue to welcome immigrants who bring their home cooking to their new home country.

This thread could be a case study for confirmation bias, with each side justifying its position.

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roamin survivor
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by roamin survivor » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:44 am

Wow, I've got to admit, that's a bunch of interesting responses.

Looking back at my cooking habits, it looks like I tend to keep myself to making meals that use few, staple ingredients. They're just prepped and cooked in different ways. Hamburger's a good example as most of the ingredients are simple enough to use in other dishes (except maybe the buns) and it's can definitely work out cheaper/better/healthier than one from a restaurant. I know that I hate doing anything involving frying or deep frying; it makes too much of a mess and there's no way to get it right without a deep fryer. Social event aside, if I do need to eat out, I do tend to head towards the stuff I can't cook. Thinking about it:

Italian get a thumbs up here for delicious food with minimal ingredients.
American is also great for being simple and minimal ingredients. However, dishes like BBQ and breads are too complicated for me.
Mexican's also close except I can never figure out what to do with tortillas. They go bad so quick.
Asian except for the sauces, which I cannot replicate (no, I don't think it's the MSG), and the requirement to specialized ingredients (lemongrass, fish sauce, rice noodles, etc). I still have yet to find out true Thai and Filipino food.
Indian, Persian, and Ethiopian food is my favorite, but probably the most complicated in terms of ingredients and cooking. I've seen Indian mothers cook and after that, I almost consider it worth any price if it's good.

Huh, it seems to get more and more complicated the further and further west you go (speaking from like pre-20th century history).

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by reggiesimpson » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:58 am

Love to eat out BUT...........its always "expensive" and i always ingest too many calories. Other than that.............i love to eat out!

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Fallible » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:59 am

I love eating out at nice places and, fortunately, also love cooking at home which, in retirement, I can now do more of (it was actually a retirement goal). So while I eat out less, I don't miss it because I'm happy to be cooking good, healthy, relatively inexpensive meals at home.
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by gd » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:38 am

roamin survivor wrote:I was having lunch at a noodle shop... Something came to me: I'm eating at the noodle shop because:
...
2. I would never cook it at home due to ingredients and cooking skills
So you're actually "Ramen survivor"!

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PaddyMac
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by PaddyMac » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:39 am

We tend to each out at a great soup & salad bar if we're shopping in town. Their soups are fab, we fill up on salad, and then there's something yummy for desert. With a coupon, it's about $22 for two.

If we're meeting friends, we tend to eat at indian or chinese restaurants where we can order family style and share; totally agree that it's hard to create these dishes at home so why not eat something different. We rarely eat at an italian or steakhouse as we can cook those kinds of food just as good and much cheaper at home. Also agree that calories are a concern; we love New Mexican but those sopapaillas will kill you!

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steadyeddy
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by steadyeddy » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:41 am

joe8d wrote:
brian wrote:I haven't found any meals out that are cheaper than making them at home from a pure $ perspective. Even something like the $1 cheeseburger from McD can be done (Wegmans' prices):
1/8 lb ground beef: $.25 ($2/lb)
Roll: $.25 (8 for $2)
Slice cheese: $.16 (16 for $2.59)

That still leaves $.34 for electricity and ketchup. The differences obviously get much higher with 'premium' meals at steakhouses and seafood places.

More important, though, is the health aspect. I don't know what type of trans-fat, rancid oils, fillers, and additives are in restaurant meals...though I can guess they ain't pretty.
For a hamburger,it makes more sense to buy one. You can't get those small portions at Wegmans and even if you could, you have work in prep and cleanup.
I want to know where to find hamburger for only $2/lb!

SP-diceman
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by SP-diceman » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:43 am

Lunch at work is the only thing I was ever concerned with.
(always brown bagged it, except on rare occasions)

Guess you figure, if I start doing that, it will be 5 days a week for years and years.


Thanks
SP-diceman

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by SP-diceman » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:53 am

market timer wrote: Even as a college student, I valued my time at about $30/hr, so it was easy to justify spending $9 for dinner

What does this mean?
Were you tutoring students or something?


Thanks
SP-diceman

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by dm200 » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:22 pm

Food from "eating out", especially lower cost food, in my opinion is almost always terrible for your health - compared with what you can more easily do at home.

Lookat nutrition content - most restaurant food is high in fat (especially staurated fat), sugar and empty (no fiber) carbohydrates and sodium/salt.

For economics, figure potential for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol medications - as well as increased physician visits and other medical bills.

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Easy Rhino » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:26 pm

roamin survivor wrote: So, do you evaluate the costs when choosing to eat out?
No, my wife does not. :lol:

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Specialized » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:39 pm

4strings wrote:Image
Sure, eating out is more expensive than eating at home. However, the costs of eating at home are more volatile. Therefore, conservative investors prefer to eat out most of the time.

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by tfb » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:47 pm

Belongs to Consumer and Recreation?
Harry Sit, taking a break from the forums.

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by gkaplan » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:50 pm

I probably eat out less than five times a year.
Gordon

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by ejvyas » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:56 pm

Specialized wrote:
4strings wrote:Image
Sure, eating out is more expensive than eating at home. However, the costs of eating at home are more volatile. Therefore, conservative investors prefer to eat out most of the time.
Thanks for the great piece of "Personal Finance (Not Investing)" advice :-)

As for me, we cook every single day and go out may be once per week - usually when it gets too tight to cook since we both are working. I specifically avoid eating out after I read some Skinny Bitch and saw Food Inc & other documentaries. I am fully aware I cannot avoid the system but I try be minimally trapped into it.
:peace

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Alskar
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Alskar » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:07 pm

roamin survivor wrote:So, do you evaluate the costs when choosing to eat out? Does the time/material/skill cost play a factor?
I am a single professional that works WAY more than 40 hours a week. I have done the analysis of the costs of eating in and eating out and have come to the conclusion that eating out for one is significantly less expensive than eating in. My analysis was based on the cost of the raw materials, the cost of transporting the raw materials (gas, wear and tear on my car), the cost of cleaning up after the meal (hot water, soap, etc), and some allowance for waste (cooking for one results in significant food waste). Even when I placed no monetary value on my time, eating out was less expensive than cooking for one.

If one values one's time at all, eating out becomes quite inexpensive compared to cooking for one. The equation tilts in favor of eating in when cooking for more than about 2.5 people.

There are other non-monetary benefits of cooking for oneself: I think home-cooked meals are probably more healthful than restaurant meals overall and cooking can be a very enjoyable, relaxing pastime...kinda of like a lab experiment you get to eat when you're done. :D

I typically eat breakfast at home and the other meals out. I am quite confident that this is less expensive for me than preparing meals for one.
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Easy Rhino » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:14 pm

roamin survivor wrote:I was having lunch at a noodle shop and was thinking about the cost of eating out vs cooking. Something came to me: I'm eating at the noodle shop because:

1. Fairly inexpensive at $5
2. I would never cook it at home due to ingredients and cooking skills

I began to recall my eating habits as well. I usually ate out at places where I would never cook that type of food or if it was new to me. Ethnic foods are probably a good example as the specialized ingredients would only be used once or twice. Additionally, some items require non-conventional, long, or negative (i.e. stinky, messy) process.

So, do you evaluate the costs when choosing to eat out? Does the time/material/skill cost play a factor?

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Go Blue 99
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Go Blue 99 » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:18 pm

My wife and I love eating out. We typically do one lunch and two dinners out per week. The only thing that prevents us from eating out more often is the nutrition factor. We are fortunate to live in an area with a wide variety of restaurants of different cuisines.

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by The_J » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:26 pm

Alskar wrote:
roamin survivor wrote:So, do you evaluate the costs when choosing to eat out? Does the time/material/skill cost play a factor?
I am a single professional that works WAY more than 40 hours a week. I have done the analysis of the costs of eating in and eating out and have come to the conclusion that eating out for one is significantly less expensive than eating in. My analysis was based on the cost of the raw materials, the cost of transporting the raw materials (gas, wear and tear on my car), the cost of cleaning up after the meal (hot water, soap, etc), and some allowance for waste (cooking for one results in significant food waste). Even when I placed no monetary value on my time, eating out was less expensive than cooking for one.

If one values one's time at all, eating out becomes quite inexpensive compared to cooking for one. The equation tilts in favor of eating in when cooking for more than about 2.5 people.

There are other non-monetary benefits of cooking for oneself: I think home-cooked meals are probably more healthful than restaurant meals overall and cooking can be a very enjoyable, relaxing pastime...kinda of like a lab experiment you get to eat when you're done. :D

I typically eat breakfast at home and the other meals out. I am quite confident that this is less expensive for me than preparing meals for one.
I'm single and prepare meals for one. I don't experience significant food waste, but I tend to either make just a single serving of something, or make enough of something which I enjoy eating leftovers of.

As far as the time factor, what about batch cooking? For example, I made a Mexican beef and rice dish last week -- I made enough for four meals. That would be the equivalent of cooking for 4 people, over your 2.5 threshold. And does your equation properly account for the time it takes to get the food when you eat out?

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Greenie » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:37 pm

My wife is a fantastic cook and prepares most everyday, from scratch, healthy meals. She loves it but sometimes she gets tired of all time involved cooking.
I take her out for lunch or dinner two or three times a week. Everybody is happy and healthy though it is expensive to eat where she likes to go. Bottom line I think I am getting a great deal. Sometimes you have to pick your times when you are going to be frugal. Life is short. Making those you around you happy is a great investment.

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roamin survivor
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by roamin survivor » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:43 pm

gd wrote:So you're actually "Ramen survivor"!
:lol: A past guilty pleasure of mine. I'd use my barber as an excuse to go to my favorite ramen shop and a Japanese bakery every couple of months. Miss ramen now that I've found a closer, better, and cheaper barber.
The_J wrote:
Alskar wrote:I am a single professional that works WAY more than 40 hours a week. I have done the analysis of the costs of eating in and eating out and have come to the conclusion that eating out for one is significantly less expensive than eating in. My analysis was based on the cost of the raw materials, the cost of transporting the raw materials (gas, wear and tear on my car), the cost of cleaning up after the meal (hot water, soap, etc), and some allowance for waste (cooking for one results in significant food waste). Even when I placed no monetary value on my time, eating out was less expensive than cooking for one.

If one values one's time at all, eating out becomes quite inexpensive compared to cooking for one. The equation tilts in favor of eating in when cooking for more than about 2.5 people.

There are other non-monetary benefits of cooking for oneself: I think home-cooked meals are probably more healthful than restaurant meals overall and cooking can be a very enjoyable, relaxing pastime...kinda of like a lab experiment you get to eat when you're done. :D

I typically eat breakfast at home and the other meals out. I am quite confident that this is less expensive for me than preparing meals for one.
I'm single and prepare meals for one. I don't experience significant food waste, but I tend to either make just a single serving of something, or make enough of something which I enjoy eating leftovers of.

As far as the time factor, what about batch cooking? For example, I made a Mexican beef and rice dish last week -- I made enough for four meals. That would be the equivalent of cooking for 4 people, over your 2.5 threshold. And does your equation properly account for the time it takes to get the food when you eat out?
Also being single, batch cooking is great and the main way I eat. I can never really cook for one; it just doesn't seem worth the prep and cleaning effort. Also, batch cooking works as punishment for messing up the cooking. :P

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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by sscritic » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:55 pm

The economics of eating out is similar to the economics of going to a movie. The movie costs money; staying home and watching tv is free.

Eating out is entertainment; eating at home is work.* You can't compare the two.

* Even if you are entertaining at home, it is still work.

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market timer
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by market timer » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:17 pm

SP-diceman wrote:
market timer wrote: Even as a college student, I valued my time at about $30/hr, so it was easy to justify spending $9 for dinner

What does this mean?
Were you tutoring students or something?


Thanks
SP-diceman
I didn't tutor in college. I paid for tuition and living expenses by winning scholarships and doing research for professors. Although research didn't pay $30/hr -- more like $10/hr -- I reasoned that I could easily find work after graduation that paid $30/hr. So my time in college was worth at least that much, since I wasn't liquidity constrained.

As a result of this thread, I bought a ribeye to cook for dinner tonight.

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market timer
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by market timer » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:29 pm

heyyou wrote:Most ethnic food is just the fast food of another culture.
This may be true, but there is something very different about a Big Mac Value Meal vs. bibimbap (a dish I ate at least weekly in grad school).

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Alskar
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Alskar » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:12 pm

The_J wrote:I'm single and prepare meals for one. I don't experience significant food waste, but I tend to either make just a single serving of something, or make enough of something which I enjoy eating leftovers of.

As far as the time factor, what about batch cooking? For example, I made a Mexican beef and rice dish last week -- I made enough for four meals. That would be the equivalent of cooking for 4 people, over your 2.5 threshold. And does your equation properly account for the time it takes to get the food when you eat out?
I try to eat mostly fresh food. The food waste to which I refer is mostly fresh items that spoil quickly. Salad fixings (particularly lettuce), fruit, veggies, etc often go bad before I consume them. My work life is such that I often end up on unscheduled conference calls with China late into the evening. At that point, I just end up going out to eat on the way home. A few nights of this in a row, and that head of lettuce I bought looks too gross to eat.

I've found that making a single-serving of just about anything is extremely inefficient...all of the prep time, all of the clean-up and just one meal. Making a big batch of food, like chili for example, and freezing individual portions in vacuum bags works well, but healthy meals (like fish, vegetables, fruit, etc) don't freeze and reheat very well.

My equation doesn't consider the time I spend waiting for my food, because I use this time to answer emails and research issues. This frees up time for me to get some exercise in before I go to bed.

I do account for time going to and from the grocery store several times a week to get fresh items. I believe that my equation would favor eating in if I didn't consider the time wasted in the grocery store picking up food. I tried shopping for groceries online, but had poor results.

I'm quite confident that for me, my lifestyle, and my food preferences, it is less expensive to eat out. As always, YMMV.

I also take my work clothes to the laundry and pay to have them cleaned and pressed. I don't think this is a money-saver, but there is NO WAY I'm spending the very little free time I have ironing shirts and pants. Not going to happen...
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Re: Economics of eating out

Post by stoptothink » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:32 pm

Alskar wrote:
The_J wrote:Salad fixings (particularly lettuce), fruit, veggies, etc often go bad before I consume them. My work life is such that I often end up on unscheduled conference calls with China late into the evening.

but healthy meals (like fish, vegetables, fruit, etc) don't freeze and reheat very well.
Out of curiosity, why don't you just buy frozen protein and vegetables/fruit to begin with? Not only is it cheaper, but because of the flash freezing process it is almost assuredly more fresh than "fresh" meats and produce. Just say you prefer to eat out and that you don't enjoy cooking or aren't concerned about the cost; any attempt to rationalize it as more cost effective than eating at home doesn't make any sense.

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