With restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and novelty food shops on nearly every corner, going out for food or drinks offers endless possibilities.
For those trying to save money or build savings, eating out can be one of the easiest places for extra income to be spent in large quantities– and quick! The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey shows us how much each generation spends on food outside of the home on an annual average:
- Millennials: $2889
- Generation X: $4203
- Baby Boomers: $2999
- Silent: $2142
Money Under 30 writes a great article on the cost-benefit analysis of staying in versus going out. If the average American spends around $3000 on eating out each year, what is it that you’re actually paying for? When going out, you’re not just paying for your food and beverages. You’re paying the cost for ingredients, preparation time, service tips, and restaurant mark-up prices, which happens to be around 300 percent! The average commercially-prepared meal costs $13. Compare that to the average home-prepared meal at $4 and you have yourself a $9 savings per meal.
Trade-offs for Staying In
When you make meals at home, not only are you saving money, but you’re also saving travel time, beating the crowds, stocking up on your own kitchen ingredients, and often have leftovers that you can put straight in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch.
The national average of eating out is four times a week. Pricing those meals at the average $13, if you decide to “stay in” two of those four times, you’ll end up saving $26 a week, which adds up to $936 a year– nearly $1000! Where could you spend an extra $1000 this year?