How Much Do You Spend On Eating Out?

Sandy Baker

Do you think that you don't eat out much but can not figure out just where you money is going? It's time to do an experiment to find out just how much you are eating out, how much it is costing you and how much you could have saved by making that meal at home. Did it save you time? Probably not. Did it give you a healthier meal? Most definitely not. So, what's the point in going out to dinner again?


Meet Ann

Ann is a very busy woman. She is married to Aaron and the two have three children. Since they are working most of the time, they often find themselves ordering out, ordering in or eating at a restaurant a few times per week. Yet, is this costing them anything?

To find out, Ann decided to track how much they spent on eating out in just one month. In fast food stops, the family would spend about $20-$25. If they went to a family style sit down dinner, though, they would spend from $40 up to $60 or more. If they ordered in, it could range from $20 to $35. Al in all, it was costly. In one months time, Ann determined that they were spending about $375 per month on eating out.

But, this doesn't tell us if in fact it would save money to make foods at home. To figure this out, Ann decided to try to make some of their favorite dishes at home to see how much it would cost them.


The kids love chicken fingers, fries and grilled cheese. Sometimes they ate pasta too. Here's the breakdown:

  • Chicken fingers: At the local supermarket, 1 bag that was large enough for 2 meals was $5.50.
  • Fries: 1 pound bag, good for one meal, $3.79
  • Grilled cheese, 99 cents for a loaf of bread, $3 for a chunk of cheese.
  • Pasta: $2 for one full pound of pasta, sauce was only 99 cents!

To eat this meal at home, they would have saved considerably. Ann found that the foods she ate at home were also less expensive to make than the fast food location.

Time? Where's The Time?

If you are not sure that you can find the time to make dinner every night, or you feel that you are just too tired to do it, you need to consider a few simple solutions. Here are some that will reduce the number of times you eat out.


  • Get into a habit of pulling something out in the morning for dinner that evening. When something is defrosted, you are more likely to use it.
  • Use your crock pot in the morning. Fill it with great stew, soup or a variety of other meals. When you come home, it is done for you.
  • If you are cooking tonight, make enough for two dinners, freeze one for a night when you are just too tired to cook.
  • Cold cuts work! A salad, sandwich and a vegetable work just fine for dinner too.

How much are you spending by eating out? Find out and start saving your money!

Bill For Meal with Cash

About The Author: Sandy Baker is a freelance writer for a variety of online newsletters. She is a published writer who regularly provides useful tips that people can use to better their lives. Contact her at


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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 696 Feedbacks
May 10, 20060 found this helpful

This was a good post. I have wondered why we eat out since so many times I am not that thrilled with what I get....actually I cook most nights as I do not work outside the home....and I really like to cook (the cleaning up is another story tho!) I think there is more to eating out tho than just the can just be a fun activity, a time for a family to enjoy themselves. Our kids are finally getting much better behaved in a restaurant and now Mommy & Daddy can have a good time and not feel like we have to gobble our food. One of the things I do now when we eat out is ask for water....the drinks in restaurants are outragious and I'd just as soon drink good old H2O anyway! Also, since our kids are still small and don't eat a lot, we might have them share a meal.


For example, a family type restaurant in our town has a kid's meal for around 5 bucks....all the kid's meals come with a bowl of soup and the table gets a basket of rolls. My daughter likes to fill up on rolls and she really likes we order a grilled cheese w/ fries kid's meal, our son eats the sandwich and fries and our daughter has the soup and bread....then our meals come with dessert which we let the kids out well, we don't spend as much or waste as much. It's nice to bring home food for later but many times we don't get around to eating it!

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
August 24, 20120 found this helpful

Ann didn't really cook it from scratch, which would have saved her more. Instead of buying a bag of fries for almost $4, I could have bought at 20 pound bag of potatoes for that same $4 that would have lasted several meals.


I bake our bread from scratch for about 49 cents a loaf--a further savings. And, for that price, she could have gotten a whole chicken to make the chicken fingers with some left over.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 213 Feedbacks
August 25, 20120 found this helpful

Those are good ideas. But I don't cook from scratch and we are not big eaters on left overs. Some foods we do enjoy eating the next night or two. A bag of potatoes goes to waste every time I buy it to make a certain dish we like. I use a few out of it and then the rest ends up in the trash can.

We use coupons and special deals most of the time when we eat out. For example we go to pizza hut who has their pizzas for 10.00 dollars and we order 2 and we get 2 meals out of it and sometimes enough left for me to have for lunch one day. Now a days fast food places sell healthy foods also. You have to look at your whole picture to see what is best for your family and time. Sometimes I would rather spend a little extra so I can spend more time with my family instead of cooking and cleaning the kitchen.

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August 26, 20120 found this helpful

When we eat out we use 2 for 1 coupons, eat from the dollar menu or we share meals. Instead or ordering $2+ drinks, we order ice water with lime or lemon which can save around $10 for a family of 4! If it's carry out, instead of fries with our sandwiches we will eat chips or pretzels to save money and don't forget a side salad is also easy to make and healthy. Also you can buy salad fixings and use those same things for tacos and pocket sandwiches or even omelets, that way they don't spoil on you.

I buy up ground beef when it is on sale and make patties, meatloaf, taco meat and sloppy joes. A lot of this can be frozen and thawed when you don't have time to make dinner from scratch. I also share these with friends when I know it's been a particularly difficult week for them.

When I make a casserole I try to make two so I can freeze one and use it when I don't feel like cooking.

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