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In my experience lately, this has become to be the case. Either cheaper or about even. So why sweat over a hot stove...

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/IsEatingOutCheaperThanCooking.aspx
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In my experience lately, this has become to be the case. Either cheaper or about even. So why sweat over a hot stove...

I think we're in different tax brackets. I can make a nice steak and fries for a few bucks. There are plenty of semi-prepared meals that cost less than $10 (much less), as well. Contesa's Orange Chicken has to be one of my favorites.

Hedge
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If I can eat off the dollar menu at McDonald's (or Wendy's) twice a day:

3 items @ $1 each X 2 twice a day = $6/day

$6 X 30 days/month = $180

Less than the $300/month I'd spend on groceries.
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"If I can eat off the dollar menu at McDonald's (or Wendy's) twice a day:"

Yes, but you can easily cook your own french fries from potatoes costing under $0.20/lb. Even allowing cost for cooking oil and energy, your cost is likely to be under $0.25/lb. At Mickey D's, you will pay at least $0.99.

Similarly, you can easily make soft drinks like iced tea for far less than the $1 to $1.50/12 oz you will pay at Mickey D's.

Their hamburgers are a loss leader and tough to beat. But $2/lb hamburger goes to $0.50 for a quarter pound. Plus onions, bread, mayo or 1000 island, pickles. My guess is you can make a better hamburger than Mickey D's for $0.99.

So this is a matter of convenience rather than economics. And the variety of your diet is implied to be very limited. You can do lots of soups, stews, pasta, and others less expensively than Mickey D's dollar menu. And they are nutritious and better for you.
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<<If I can eat off the dollar menu at McDonald's (or Wendy's) twice a day:
>>


Heh, heh!


Do you want to Supersize that, sir?



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Size_Me



Probably not with the dollar menu, I suppose.


When I'm out cycling, I like to stop at McDonalds for a $1 double cheeseburger, some water and a book or newspaper to read for a while.


I actually feel pampered when I get done.



Seattle Pioneer
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I eat out almost every night.

Sunday night is pizza/salad night at Cici's - buffet - I drink water $5.67

Monday night - Great Wall Buffet - senior night. drink water... $7.45

Tues - maybe Boston Market - about $5.50 with coupon for chicken dinner, spinach, stuffing, dinner roll....and water....

Maybe eat home...lean cuisine or similar frozen dinner - $3

Thursday...turkey and dressing night at Chubby's Family restaurant....$6.50...with 2 veggies, and corn bread roll......

Friday - maybe chinese buffet - love the broccoli.....$7....or Boston Market..or maybe some frozen lasagna? and salad at home....

Maybe somewhere else, Boston market if not on Friday...or chinese buffet......or

I eat breakfast and lunch at home...spend maybe $20/week at most for food.....but eat out nearly every night.

It is hard to cook for one. Half the stuff I buy for dinner goes bad before I use it....buy a bag of spinach leaves....eat 2/3rds then rest is kaput...same for cans of stuff, or carrots - you can't buy a 1/4 lb of carrots at a time. Or a 1/4 chicken or even half chicken in most stores. And if I cook a whole chicken, then I need to eat chicken every other day for a week.

I eat about one hamburger every two months....and maybe one steak every six weeks.

When I travel, I eat at ryan's , or Golden Corral or similar buffet places most times...get salad...lots of it...and meat and veggies and some small dessert.....for reasonable price.

t.
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It is hard to cook for one. Half the stuff I buy for dinner goes bad before I use it....buy a bag of spinach leaves....eat 2/3rds then rest is kaput...same for cans of stuff, or carrots - you can't buy a 1/4 lb of carrots at a time. Or a 1/4 chicken or even half chicken in most stores. And if I cook a whole chicken, then I need to eat chicken every other day for a week.

No it's not. It is hard to eat raw/fresh for one. Cooking, not so difficult. Broccoli keeps for a while, carrots too (I usually buy 2-5lbs at a time). Raw spinach can be a challenge but I tend to eat it before it goes bad (great in quesadillas and in between two slices of Little Ceasar's $5 pizza). Cooking for one is EASY. First, I start by doubling the recipe. I eat the first meal fresh and then save 2-4 servings in the fridge for leftovers that week. I then freeze 2-6 servings individually to reheat as leftovers... cheaper and MUCH better than storebought frozen meals.

Now if you don't chose to cook, eating out can be done on the cheap but for the most part not cheap and healthy (and if at a full service restaurant by the time you figure in a fair tip you've bumped the price up a bit). If you don't include your labor cost it is almost impossible to come out ahead eating out... heck, even buying a $4 bag of salad ($2 or less on sale) and throwing half of it away is cheaper than buying a $9 salad at a restaurant.

FoolNBlue (Eats out almost exclusively for the social aspect)
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<<It is hard to cook for one. Half the stuff I buy for dinner goes bad before I use it....buy a bag of spinach leaves....eat 2/3rds then rest is kaput...same for cans of stuff, or carrots - you can't buy a 1/4 lb of carrots at a time. Or a 1/4 chicken or even half chicken in most stores. And if I cook a whole chicken, then I need to eat chicken every other day for a week.
>>



Personally, I have no trouble at all cooking for myself. But to each their own.



Seattle Pioneer
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I eat out at night because on many days it is the only time I get out of the house...

or I run errands and the place to eat is on the way home.....

Yes, eating at home would be less expensive.....but then I might go out socializing at night, and that could cost $$$$.....

Usually have one club meeting a week - and they are usually at places with food, and they expect folks to eat dinner to get the 'free meeting room'.....one at IHOP...one at a Mexican restaurant.... one club just meets in church, but the Chinese buffet place right on the way..no detour....

If the economy goes to pieces, then maybe I'll be eating at home more, saving a few bucks in gas as well.....

Meanwhile.....I eat out 6 days a week.....

I have made my own meals for 6 days a week...no stranger to that.....when I lved miles from anywhere....for 11 years or so...and in NOVA, for 7 years at least 5 days a week. Wasn't so cheap to eat out there..... usually ate dinner at one club I frequented on Thursday nights (birchmere - Seldom Scene Bluegrass)....but ate home at least 5 days a week average...sometimes would eat out with Sue on Sunday eve.....she liked Greek food...I liked pizza...two places nearby fit the bill.....

Off to the Boston Market....have $1.25 off coupon (you can print them off on the web - all you need)......

Sunday is pizza night - better that I eat out, otherwise I make gigantic pizza and eat most of it (a zillion calories)...and the pizza buffet I limit myself to six slices....and a pile of salad with minimal oil/vinegar dressing.....and water.....

I'm working on losing a few pounds....


t.
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In my experience lately, this has become to be the case. Either cheaper or about even. So why sweat over a hot stove...

I cook, not because it's cheaper but because I can get stuff cooked the way I want it and I can identify all ingredients. ~$60/week. My cholesterol and blood pressure numbers are "remarkable" (saith my doctor) and I want to keep them that way.

Breakfast: an egg or 2 and 2 slices of v. thin turkey bacon, a generous dollop of Trader Joe's salsa, fruit;

Lunch: HUGE salad -- lots of lettuce (mixture of mesclin and romaine), sliced zucchini, ~1/4 cup chick peas, grape tomatoes, 1 ounce each of reduced fat Swiss cheese, reduced salt turkey, low salt ham. Trader Joe's dressing or homemade vinegrette, No-sugar Jello for "dessert";

Midafternoon: 1/2 cup cottage cheese OR hummus (Trader Joe's) and celery stalk OR almonds OR cheese stick;

Dinner: ~3 ounces of protein, veggie, fruit.
Last night was chicken and very large serving of broccoli. Each dinner costs about $3.

This week I paid $1/pound for green beans, $1/pound for zucchini, $1.50 for large head of broccolli, $1.49/pound for tomatoes, $1.99 for carton of grape tomatoes, limes 10/$1, lemons 3/$1, small pears 3/$1, oranges 2 large navel/$1, cabbage 3 lbs/$1.

Trader Joe's carries a bag of boneless/skinless chicken breasts individually wrapped/sealed, about 6 or 8 for less than $12. They were sold out this week but I got chicken tenderloins, 5 meals worth (if memory serves) for $6 and wrapped them myself. Yes, I know I could always wrap them myself, but I'm willing to pay for convenience. I buy shrimp, enough for 3 meals at about $6. I just peel them and saute quickly. A pound of whatever fish I see in the market (sometimes tilapia, sometimes salmon, etc.) will give me 4 meals for way less then $10 -- cook one, freeze 3). Sometimes I buy sirloin, already cut for stir fry, saute quickly.

I used to buy for price. Now I buy for convenience then for price.

Lunch or dinner out is a social occasion. I have a number of foodie friends so dinner out is enjoyable but usually expensive -- a value judgment, of course. But I enjoy their company and enjoy the ambience of nice restaurants and the interesting company as much as I enjoy the food. Lunch this week (nice but not fanch place) with friends was $20 including tip (my share). Dinner runs anywhere from $30 to $50.
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Ooooooo! How much salt are you all eating? How many dirty hands have been in your food? How fresh are the ingredients? I like to eat out as a mere convenience occasionally, to have a really fine dining experience or because that's where friends want to go. Other than that, I don't even cook with prepared food (ok, so I now use Prego as a base for my sauce).

I'll stick to eating primarily at home.

Sumap
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If I can eat off the dollar menu at McDonald's (or Wendy's) twice a day:

3 items @ $1 each X 2 twice a day = $6/day

$6 X 30 days/month = $180

Less than the $300/month I'd spend on groceries.

I spend about $160 a month on groceries...I couldn't eat that cheaply at McD'sby your own calculations.

AND...the dollar menu? Mc'Ds? That food is crap. It's high fat...few vegies, and generally kind of bad. My food is tasty, healthy, and satisfying. Last night I had risotto with homemade chicken stock, pumpkin and sage from my own garden, and sauted apples for dessert. Tonight I'm having a Greek dish of garbanzos and rice alongside shredded mustard greens. Risotto sounds fancy, but it's peasant food. The chicken stock costs me less than $5 for several quarts of it. The rice is bought in bulk. I bought one large Hubbard Squash which is cheap per pound this time of year. I use my pricy ingredints (like true parmesean) sparingly.

Plus, it's relaxing to cook, and makes the whole house smell good. Mc'D's can't do that.
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And I'm all for an occasionally treat - no issues with having a cheeseburger once in a while...

But to propose eating fast food every day? For every meal? I know it's only a theoretical exercise...but still. Ewwwwwww......I think even the most dedicated fast food lover would get a bit queasy doing that every day for a while.
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There is a side salad and a fruit/yogurt parfait on McD's dollar menu.

Eating that everyday would get old, though.

--Chooey
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"you can't buy a 1/4 lb of carrots at a time. Or a 1/4 chicken or even half chicken in most stores. And if I cook a whole chicken, then I need to eat chicken every other day for a week."

Small containers of some veggies are available. But even if they are not, you can easily freeze what you don't use, thaw it out and use it a few weeks later.
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"But to propose eating fast food every day? For every meal?"

I know so many people who travel on business. On the road almost every day. On the expense account. Can eat in fine restaurants all the time if they want.

But they come home craving a home cooked meal. Why? Most restaurant food has a certain sameness to it. Certain styles are popular. Everyone copies. So eathing out becomes boring.

At least cooking your own means making what you like exactly as you like it. And it can be as nutritious and fresh or vitamin or fiber filled as you like.

Perfection means different things to different people. Variety counts for a lot too.
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I know so many people who travel on business. On the road almost every day. On the expense account. Can eat in fine restaurants all the time if they want.
That's me this time of year...I've been traveling pretty much every week from August through October. And I sorely miss home food. I feel like I'm living a fake life if I'm not cooking at home every few days at least. Nothing as restorative to me as that...
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Lately, I've been eating out cheaper 2 nights a week.
Zio's has all you can eat spaghetti for 1.99 on Tuesday nights in Oct.
Longbranch has all you can eat chicken wings/legs for $3.00 on Thursday nights.
So, those 2 nights, we eat out. It costs lest than heating up the stove, or preparing dinner for those 2 nights.
But, during the rest of the week, we cook at home. I also started bringing my own cereal for breakfast to work and brown bagging my own lunch for work since I've realized how much $$ I've wasted every month at the cafeteria at work.
But eating out cheaply twice a week gives me a little break from cooking
Allison
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But eating out cheaply twice a week gives me a little break from cooking
This is important too...it's important to do things that make you happy.

For me, it makes me very happy to cook (unless I am dog tired). For others it may make them happy to have a break in the week with no cooking and no cleaning-up...
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Zio's has all you can eat spaghetti for 1.99 on Tuesday nights in Oct.

For $1.99 (plus sales tax and possible tip?) I can eat all I can eat of pasta a few times. 1lb dry pasta $1 and one can of pasta sauce 79¢ and there is no way I'm eating all of that. Of course, I don't care much for spaghetti. I'd rather add another $3.25 to the mix to add 10oz of italian sausage and a half pound of cheese to the mix and make a pasta bake (dinner for tonight btw). Get approx 8 meals for $5.25.

FoolNBlue (Could definitely eat $3 worth of and legs in one sitting!)
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Having just finished my meal, I ended up dividing it into about 7 portions. I forgot the cheese so the total cost was about $3.50 for a 50¢ per meal cost. Now, the beer I had with dinner sort of killed the savings, still at $1/serving bought at SAMs club is a lot less than a premium beer at a restaurant.

FoolNBlue (Well fed)
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If I can eat off the dollar menu at McDonald's (or Wendy's) twice a day:

3 items @ $1 each X 2 twice a day = $6/day

$6 X 30 days/month = $180

Less than the $300/month I'd spend on groceries.


You know if you eat like that, you definitely don't have to worry about running out of money ... you'll run out of life first :-)
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"you'll run out of life first" :-)

Yes, and I have a feeling your clothes will not fit either. You will probably spend quite a bit updating your wardrobe in a series of larger sizes.
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I liked this thread because I eat out a lot at (mostly) economical restaurants. I do cook at home ... er .... if you count re-heating take-out or leftovers from the restaurant in the microwave.

Seattle Pioneer, we appear to have the only thing in common: we both like to bike and eat junk food! I'm sure it won't surprise you that I bought my bike by milking my family trust :)
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