You’ve probably been told this a thousand times in some form or another. “Stop eating out so much. Save money cooking at home.” You might have even tried to become more of a home cook and then either lost interest or just couldn’t find the time to stick with it. Or maybe the convenience of apps like postmates and uber eats have made it too easy to just order from another restaurant. Is the amount of money you save cooking at home even worth giving up the convenience of forgoing grocery shopping and ordering meals from the palm of your hand with your feet up on the couch?
If you’re hoping to pay for your dream vacation, pay off those student loans faster, or even put a small down payment on a house then YES. According to Forbes, on average, it’s almost five times more expensive to eat out or order in than it is to cook your own meals at home. A study by Wellio found that the average amount of money spent on a single meal when ordering from a restaurant was $20.37. Eating out or getting meals delivered from a restaurant is by far the most expensive way to feed yourself. Calculate the average cost of eating out x 3 meals a day x 365 a days a year. You’re looking at over $20,000 a year just on food costs only!
With student loans to pay back and that dream vacation to save it’s worth trying out cheaper and healthier alternatives. Your body, bank account and life goals will thank you. If the thought of finding recipes, putting together a grocery list, and hitting the store makes you want to give up all ready – don’t! Thanks to meal delivery services you don’t even have to step foot in a grocery store or have any culinary skills to save money cooking at home.
Small Costs Add Up
Even if you don’t sit down to a meal at a restaurant that often, it still doesn’t mean you’re not overspending on food other people are cooking for you. In the age of amazing food apps, if you live in a major city like New York, you can get almost anything you’re craving delivered to your door at any time of the day. Smalls costs add and so do small splurges. In the long run, those seemingly menial costs can end up costing you that trip to Aruba or paying off your debt a year earlier.
Costs like delivery fees, tips, to go coffee (here are the best espresso machines to brew your own at home), expensive grab and go snacks, and that healthy green juice add up. The reason meal delivery services like Daily Harvest and Splendid Spoon are growing so quickly is that they’re saving people major time and money on some of their favorite healthy vices. Smoothies and juices come either pre-made or with all the ingredients chopped and ready to be blended in a convenient to go cup.
All those smoothies, acai bowls, and juices you try making at home with your own groceries are never that convenient to whip up on your own. I tried a juice cleanse for a week and the amount of produce I had to keep safely stored in my fridge and the clean up involved made me vow to never do it again. It’s messy. It’s expensive. It wasn’t worth it. I went right back to buying overpriced juices from the corner store. Thankfully many meal delivery services are making it easier to make your favorite healthy meals at home and save money in the process.
Beware of The Little Splurges
Treat yo self. Just make sure you’re treating your self to what you actually really want and not “splurging” on little things here and there. Eating out every day for lunch counts as a little splurge. Picking up a second to go coffee counts as a little splurge. These are the most common little splurges Americans make and it’s costing us a lot of money we didn’t really mean to spend.
$3 a day for coffee sounds a whole lot different than $1,095. Which is what all that coffee costs you in a year. Depending on the interest rate your savings account has, if that money had gone into savings, it’d be worth even more than that. A dollar isn’t just a dollar. If you know how to spend it and save it right, it’s worth a lot more given enough time.
Splurging on eating out even just once a week is an expensive treat. On average, Americans spend over $50 a week just on lunches. That’s around $3,000 a year. Just on lunch! To help keep your lunch spending in check, try out the Lunch Tracker app. It keeps track of how much you’re spending on meals and makes saving money a fun game you can share with friends.
Ways to Save Money Cooking at Home
Choose Your Ingredients Wisely:
Buying a whole roasted chicken or making healthy meals in bulk can save you a lot of money. Buy seasonal ingredients to get the best prices. It’s also healthier to eat seasonally.
Do you really need to buy organic? The verdicts still out on whether organic produce is actually healthier than the alternative. In the meantime just steer clear of the dirty dozen.
Cook Less Meat:
Eating a diet that mostly consists of plant based foods is known to be better for your health. It can also save you some serious cash. Animal protein is usually the most expensive ingredient to buy. Stick to recipes that are seasonal and vegetable based and use meat as more of an accessory.
Invest in a Slow Cooker:
Cooking with a slow cooker is my all time favorite way to make delicious fall and winter meals. The flavor is amazing because the ingredients have more time to mix together. Your slow cooker can also save you a lot of money.
It’s easy to make big batches of healthy meals or cook for a crowd. Try HRH Meghan Markle’s favorite slow cooker zucchini Bolognese recipe. It’s so good you’ll want to make it again. It’s also incredibly cheap and healthy.
Start Making Big Batches of Your Meals for The Week:
Making big portions of meals is a great way to get the most bang for your buck. Make a big pot of soup or stew and you have homemade lunch for the whole week. Interested in meal prepping? Here’s a guide for beginners.
Use a Meal Delivery Service:
Some people have the idea that meal delivery services are too expensive to use consistently. The average cost of a single serving from a meal delivery kit is about $10. When you really break it down, that can be a little more expensive than what you would spend buying and chopping the ingredients yourself. A meal delivery service is a great middle ground if you’re trying to cut back on eating out and save money cooking at home. You can even pick your recipes from the palm of your hand with your feet up on the couch! You’ll save time, money, and calories. Here’s how to lose weight fast with a meal delivery service.