Economics of eating out

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
User avatar
market timer
Posts: 5954
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:42 am

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by market timer » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:33 pm

Alskar wrote: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...
Why not just buy non-iron shirts?

jnkdaniel
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:22 am

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by jnkdaniel » Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:08 pm

stoptothink wrote: 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.
I would think so. Yet for some reason the "flash frozen" alaskan salmon i get at costco does not taste as good as the thawed alaskan salmon I get.

I'm thinking the quality of prepackaged frozen products are just inferior to begin with.

bungalow10
Posts: 2205
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:28 am
Location: Chicago North Shore

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by bungalow10 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:27 pm

KyleAAA wrote: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.
Out eating out "strategy" is similiar. DH and I like to go out for sushi, pho (which I've made, but not as good as some of the local restaurants), other ethnic foods, and sometimes high-end seafood. I haven't had a steak in a restaurant in years, simply because my DH can grill a better one at home, and I will NEVER order pasta at a restaurant because I'm sure to be disappointed.
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

spefactor
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 6:44 pm

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by spefactor » Sat Feb 11, 2012 4:47 pm

I guess count me as one on the "only eat out" side of the spectrum -- I have not used my kitchen since I moved into my apartment 6 months ago.

I live in the NYC area and a $7 burrito at Chipotle is worth its weight in gold compared with the time and hassle of grocery shopping, cooking food, cleaning dishes, remembering to defrost meat, etc.

ThinkingRunner
Posts: 87
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:11 am

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by ThinkingRunner » Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:01 pm

I track my expenses pretty closely, so I can share actual data. This is for a family of two lacto-ovo-vegetarian adults (spouse and me).

In the 3-year period between 01/01/2009 and 12/31/2011, our "Groceries" expense category is at $11,364.31. This includes *all* spending at grocery stores (e.g. cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc.), not just food purchases. But I'll use this number to get a conservative estimate.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner equate to 6 meals a day, or 365 x 3 x 6 = 6,570 meals over 3 years. We rarely eat out, once in 2 weeks is on the high side. So that's 26 x 3 x 2 = 156 meals over 3 years as an upper bound. Factor 3 weeks of vacation per year away from home (again on the high side), that's 21 x 3 x 6 = 378 meals. So, a very conservative lower bound on the number of meals we've eaten at home in these 3 years is 6,570 - 156 - 378 = 6,036 meals.

Dividing $11,364.31 by 6,036 meals gives an average of $1.88 per meal over this 3 year period. And this is a very loose upper bound, I'm sure our actual costs were at least 10-15% lower.

P.S. We eat very healthy (lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grain, no pre-packaged/frozen foods, no "extreme couponing", everything prepared from scratch). We're both salaried, so I don't value the time I spend cooking in dollars. Plus cooking together is a great way to spend quality time with your spouse/family after a tough day at work.

chaz
Posts: 13601
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by chaz » Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:01 pm

DW enjoys cooking, so we rarely eat out.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

User avatar
bru
Posts: 1001
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 6:32 pm

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by bru » Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:12 pm

We'd eat out more but money is tight. We have a young child and of course he loves Happy Meals, so we may go as a treat for him every couple of weeks. I did buy some Big Mac and French Fry coupons from Living Social that makes McD more affordable for the parents.

3247
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:34 pm

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by 3247 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:05 am

We eat out when the food we are interested in having is something we can't/won't make at home...fish readily comes to mind because of the smell. However, Navy bean soup with cornbread is something you don't readily find at restaurants (unless you frequent the Senate cafeteria), so I guess it depends on what you like to cook and and what you like to eat.

Sidney
Posts: 6694
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 6:06 pm

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Sidney » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:15 am

spefactor wrote:I guess count me as one on the "only eat out" side of the spectrum -- I have not used my kitchen since I moved into my apartment 6 months ago.

I live in the NYC area and a $7 burrito at Chipotle is worth its weight in gold compared with the time and hassle of grocery shopping, cooking food, cleaning dishes, remembering to defrost meat, etc.
Chipotle seems better than some fast/chains but still looks like it would be easy to rack up a lot of sodium and calories in a fairly short time.
http://www.chipotle.com/en-US/menu/nutr ... ation.aspx

Could be worse though. Olive Garden is virtually a waiting lounge for funeral homes.
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.

stoptothink
Posts: 4458
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by stoptothink » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:36 am

Sidney wrote:
spefactor wrote:I guess count me as one on the "only eat out" side of the spectrum -- I have not used my kitchen since I moved into my apartment 6 months ago.

I live in the NYC area and a $7 burrito at Chipotle is worth its weight in gold compared with the time and hassle of grocery shopping, cooking food, cleaning dishes, remembering to defrost meat, etc.
Chipotle seems better than some fast/chains but still looks like it would be easy to rack up a lot of sodium and calories in a fairly short time.
http://www.chipotle.com/en-US/menu/nutr ... ation.aspx
Unless you are considerably overweight and already hypertensive, I wouldn't worry about sodium intake. Dietary sodium has a very negligable effect on blood pressure levels, it is primarily based upon genetics with activity levels also being a factor. Pointing the finger at dietary sodium and cholesterol are two of my pet peeves; I found it interesting that one of the focal points of the new USDA school lunch program guidelines was lowering sodium levels. I'm not saying put salt on everything(I never use salt and stay away from processed foodstuffs which are generally high), but it wouldn't necessarily be a deciding factor in what/where I eat.

http://www.health-report.co.uk/sodium_c ... yths2.html

brianH
Posts: 174
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:21 pm

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by brianH » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:32 am

stoptothink wrote: Unless you are considerably overweight and already hypertensive, I wouldn't worry about sodium intake.
Agreed. Far more concerning is the use of cooking oils in restaurant settings. At worst, some trans-fat laden oil/shortening may be used (usually in baked goods), and at best it's probably a PUFA-heavy, unstable vegetable (soybean) oil. Because of the misguided fear of saturated fats, for example, McDonalds moved away from healthy beef tallow for cooking fries to some veg-oil junk.

Rodc
Posts: 13601
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:46 am

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Rodc » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:41 am

We eat out three or four times a month for two reasons.

1) Friday and wife and I are tired and feeling lazy, take family of four to dinner or take out. Generally includes some entertainment factor if eat out as we and kids like to eat out. If not feeling the desire to eat out however, this becomes take out which is primarily convenience.

2) Date night.

So eating non-home cooking is a combination of convenience and/or entertainment.

While cost is not ignored, neither reason is primarily driven by issues of economics.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

User avatar
Jethro2007
Posts: 337
Joined: Mon May 05, 2008 1:28 am
Location: Journeying to the center of my mind...

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Jethro2007 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:42 am

Hey Y'all,

Whose payin' $1 for a McDouble!!!

Cost $1.40 plus tax in my hood...What gives???

What about yer hood???

User avatar
Jethro2007
Posts: 337
Joined: Mon May 05, 2008 1:28 am
Location: Journeying to the center of my mind...

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Jethro2007 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:01 pm

Hey Y'all,

Hmmmm, haven't done this in a while...be patient...

I don't think you really want to find Hamburger for under $2 a pound...

See the thing about McDonald meat no one is talking about is they copy righted the phrase "100 % pure beef"
which in reality means not 100% pure beef, its very orwellian, if you think about it...

Nice one corporate geniuses...

So you really can't compare a McDouble with a real beef hamburger its just not the same thing...
Because you can't buy the same meat McDonalds uses to make their burgers...Its not the same as ground beef at the grocery store...Its been modified...

Plus, I don't really view eating a McDouble as a food experience like dining out somewhere that might even remotely resemble cuisine...

Gotta factor in a bunch of other variables there...

User avatar
Alskar
Posts: 643
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Alskar » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:46 pm

market timer wrote:Why not just buy non-iron shirts?
Until about a year ago I did that, but then after a year of 60-80 work weeks, I came to the realization that life is very short, and I was spending my limited time here on earth doing things that I don't enjoy. For two weeks I wrote down everything I did and how long it took. I then went through the list and figured which things were chores and which things were hobbies. I figured out the cost of "outsourcing" the chores and discovered that for $7 a week I could have somebody else do my shirts. Best use of $350 a year that I've found!
Lagom är bäst

TheEternalVortex
Posts: 2548
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:17 pm
Location: San Jose, CA

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by TheEternalVortex » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:55 pm

Alskar wrote:
market timer wrote:Why not just buy non-iron shirts?
Until about a year ago I did that, but then after a year of 60-80 work weeks, I came to the realization that life is very short, and I was spending my limited time here on earth doing things that I don't enjoy. For two weeks I wrote down everything I did and how long it took. I then went through the list and figured which things were chores and which things were hobbies. I figured out the cost of "outsourcing" the chores and discovered that for $7 a week I could have somebody else do my shirts. Best use of $350 a year that I've found!
That's a pretty good overall approach. Although, OTOH, I find that if I have extra free time I just waste it posting on internet forums anyway, so it's not clear that by not doing my own laundry or cleaning my own house I've really gained anything meaningful in my life.

User avatar
Alskar
Posts: 643
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Alskar » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:07 pm

stoptothink wrote: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.
I am not trying to rationalize anything. My decision to eat out rather than home cooking was based on hard data. The fact is, I am spending less money on food, food preparation, and grocery shopping now than when I was cooking at home. With gas at nearly $4 a gallon, and the IRS mileage reimbursement rate at 55.5 cents per mile (which I think is low for my car), going to the grocery store for fresh food can easily cost $5. I put a mass flow meter on my sink and dishwasher (yes, I am THAT nerdy) and found that washing dishes by hand took nearly 2x more water than my high-efficiency dishwasher. Even so, it is still cheaper for me to eat fresh food prepared by somebody else than to try and do it on my own.

I prefer fresh salads. Salad fixings don't freeze well. Protein can freeze well, but it must be thawed before it is cooked. My work-life is such that I never know in advance when I am going to be home for dinner or not. I am frequently pulled into conference calls late in the afternoon and evening. If I pulled meat out of the freezer in the morning, it has a greater than 50% chance of not being cooked that night. I don't do 2-3 day old, previously frozen fish.

So if I go out to lunch I take half home for dinner. If I go out to dinner, half of it becomes lunch for the next day. I save money and eat better than if I was trying to fit home cooking into a hectic work-life. I walk from home to the restaurants, they know me and take steps to give me great service. I take my laptop and answer emails while I wait. I then get a nice walk home before I sleep.

I'm not saying that my lifestyle is for anybody else, but it works well for me for right now. If my work-life ever settles down, I would like to get back to cooking for myself, which is something I enjoy. However, when working up to 80 hours a week, some sacrifices must be made.
Lagom är bäst

User avatar
Alskar
Posts: 643
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Alskar » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:55 pm

TheEternalVortex wrote:That's a pretty good overall approach. Although, OTOH, I find that if I have extra free time I just waste it posting on internet forums anyway, so it's not clear that by not doing my own laundry or cleaning my own house I've really gained anything meaningful in my life.
If all I do is spend my time watching TV, posting on Internet forums, or playing pinball I still feel like I'm ahead. It's amazing to me, how a simple thing like deciding NOT to launder my own shirts has improved my sense of well-being and happiness. I feel like a king! I'm on the hunt for other things I can "outsource" to see if I can get a similar boost to the enjoyment of life. I did find one: TiVo. Before I bought a TiVo, I thought it would lead to more TV watching. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. TiVo has changed TV watching from an unconscious activity into a conscious one. I now choose when and how long to watch TV. If I don't find anything on my TiVo worth watching I turn it off and go for a walk.
Last edited by Alskar on Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Lagom är bäst

Curlyq
Posts: 787
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 5:26 pm

.....

Post by Curlyq » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:50 pm

.....
Last edited by Curlyq on Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
market timer
Posts: 5954
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:42 am

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by market timer » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:19 pm

Alskar wrote:
TheEternalVortex wrote:That's a pretty good overall approach. Although, OTOH, I find that if I have extra free time I just waste it posting on internet forums anyway, so it's not clear that by not doing my own laundry or cleaning my own house I've really gained anything meaningful in my life.
If all I do is spend my time watching TV, posting on Internet forums, or playing pinball I still feel like I'm ahead. It's amazing to me, how a simple thing like deciding NOT to launder my own shirts has improved my sense of well-being and happiness. I feel like a king! I'm on the hunt for other things I can "outsource" to see if I can get a similar boost to the enjoyment of life. I did find one: TiVo. Before I bought a TiVo, I thought it would lead to more TV watching. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. TiVo has changed TV watching from an unconscious activity into a conscious one. I now choose when and how long to watch TV. If I don't find anything on my TiVo worth watching I turn it off and go for a walk.
Next up: escorts.
Last edited by market timer on Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Alskar
Posts: 643
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Alskar » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:43 pm

market timer wrote:
Alskar wrote:
TheEternalVortex wrote:
Alskar wrote:That's a pretty good overall approach. Although, OTOH, I find that if I have extra free time I just waste it posting on internet forums anyway, so it's not clear that by not doing my own laundry or cleaning my own house I've really gained anything meaningful in my life.
If all I do is spend my time watching TV, posting on Internet forums, or playing pinball I still feel like I'm ahead. It's amazing to me, how a simple thing like deciding NOT to launder my own shirts has improved my sense of well-being and happiness. I feel like a king! I'm on the hunt for other things I can "outsource" to see if I can get a similar boost to the enjoyment of life. I did find one: TiVo. Before I bought a TiVo, I thought it would lead to more TV watching. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. TiVo has changed TV watching from an unconscious activity into a conscious one. I now choose when and how long to watch TV. If I don't find anything on my TiVo worth watching I turn it off and go for a walk.
Next up: escorts.
Please correct this posting to correct the attributions. I did NOT write the portion that begins "That's a pretty good overall approach..."

I have no idea what this has to do with escorts. I don't think this type of comment is really helpful.
Lagom är bäst

sscritic
Posts: 21858
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:36 am

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by sscritic » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:58 pm

Alskar wrote: Please correct this posting to correct the attributions. I did NOT write the portion that begins "That's a pretty good overall approach..."
But you yourself quoted yourself as having written same.

Take a look and tell us what you see.
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 4#p1306394
Alskar wrote:
TheEternalVortex wrote:
Alskar wrote:
That's a pretty good overall approach.

musbane
Posts: 390
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:14 am

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by musbane » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:04 pm

We all know the bit about giving a man a fish vs. teaching him how to fish.

In a similar light, if a young couple choose to cook, they will not only save money, they will get better at cooking, and as time goes on the difference between the quality and nutrition between their cooking and average restaurant fare will increase.

User avatar
Alskar
Posts: 643
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Alskar » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:17 pm

sscritic wrote:But you yourself quoted yourself as having written same.
You are correct! That's what I get for posting from my iPhone. I've corrected my error.
Lagom är bäst

TheEternalVortex
Posts: 2548
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:17 pm
Location: San Jose, CA

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by TheEternalVortex » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:22 pm

Alskar wrote:
TheEternalVortex wrote:That's a pretty good overall approach. Although, OTOH, I find that if I have extra free time I just waste it posting on internet forums anyway, so it's not clear that by not doing my own laundry or cleaning my own house I've really gained anything meaningful in my life.
If all I do is spend my time watching TV, posting on Internet forums, or playing pinball I still feel like I'm ahead. It's amazing to me, how a simple thing like deciding NOT to launder my own shirts has improved my sense of well-being and happiness. I feel like a king! I'm on the hunt for other things I can "outsource" to see if I can get a similar boost to the enjoyment of life. I did find one: TiVo. Before I bought a TiVo, I thought it would lead to more TV watching. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. TiVo has changed TV watching from an unconscious activity into a conscious one. I now choose when and how long to watch TV. If I don't find anything on my TiVo worth watching I turn it off and go for a walk.
Yeah that makes sense, although for me it's more rewarding to do my laundry than watch TV, even though TV is more fun.

Barefootgirl
Posts: 2224
Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:05 pm

Re: Economics of eating out

Post by Barefootgirl » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:34 am

I am in a similar situation as a single person in relatively urbanized area, working mostly out of my home.

I find all options expensive (time, cost, energy, healthfulness) - both restaurant and food prep at home - when it comes to only one person/one meal.

I just ordered a countertop halogen oven as an experiment. I keep frozen portions of salmon and chicken in the freezer.

Apparently, with this gadget, you can bake quickly and easily from a frozen state with minimal clean up and virtually no waste. I guess I'll find out.

BFG
How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.

Post Reply