Author Topic: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?  (Read 2469 times)

Kaplin261

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 321
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Richmond Va
    • Michael Foutz
"Alongside the Table Saw, the Cutting Board is also a favorite tool." is a caption in a very beautiful modern kitchen in article "A Day In The Life of my Supposedly Frugal Stomach". The article says his family spends about $6,000 a year on grocery's. However the article does not mention the cost of the facilities used to produce those meals.


 It appears that the MMM kitchen is about 15'x30' at about 450 sqft. Looking up home values for Longmont show a average of $182 per sqft. So 450x182 comes out to the kitchen costing about $82,000. I would imagine this cost would probably be more being that a lot of complicated systems that go into building a kitchen. But to make it simple i will use the the $82,000 number here. That $82,000 could of been invested in some sort of investment that earns 7% interest earning about $6,000 per year.

So the true cost of MMM cooking at home is about $12,000.

To determine the annual cost of eating out at restaurants in Longmont I will assume the same shopping mentality as the frugal grocery budget using coupons and utilizing happy hour specials.

Monday      Total Cost $20   Total Calories 5400
Breakfeast   3 Bananas, 2 Avacados   $3   cal 800
Lunch   Nuts and Berries   $2   cal 600
Dinner   "Under the Sun - Happy Hour
Garlic flat bread $5.95
Chicken Skewers $4.95
Frites $3.95"   $15   4,000
         
Tuesday      Cost $20   Calories 5000
Breakfeast   3 Bananas, 2 Avacados   $3   cal 800
Lunch   Nuts and Berries   $2   cal 600
Dinner   "The Roost - Happy Hour
Kids Farms grass burger,fries,fruit,milk $5
POLENTA BITES $5
BUFFALO CHICKEN SLIDERS $5
"   $15   cal 3600
         
         
Wednesday      Cost $15   Calories 4900
Breakfeast   3 Bananas, 2 Avacados   $3   800
Lunch   Nuts and Berries   $2   cal 600
Dinner   "Longmont Public House - Burger Night
2x Burger& Fries $5 each"   $10   cal 3500
         
         
Thursday      Cost $29   Calories 5400
Breakfeast   3 Bananas, 2 Avacados   $3   cal 800
Lunch   Nuts and Berries   $2   cal 600
Dinner   "Samples Longmont - Happy Hour
Kids Meal Chicken&Fries&Milk $6
Brussel Sprouts $4
Korean BBQ Sandwich $14"   $24   cal 4,000
         
         
Friday      Cost $23   Calories 4900
Breakfeast   3 Bananas, 2 Avacados   $3   cal 800
Lunch   Nuts and Berries   $2   cal 600
Dinner   "Caprese Trattoria - Happy Hour
POLPETTE $5
PORCHETTA $6
MARGHERITA $7"   $18   cal 3500
         
         
Saturday      Cost $20   Calories 4400
Breakfeast   3 Bananas, 2 Avacados   $3   cal 800
Lunch   Nuts and Berries   $2   cal 600
Dinner   "Chic Fil a
3 Chicken Sandwitches
Large Waffle Fries"   $15   cal 3000
         
         
Sunday      Cost $34   Calories 4900
Breakfeast   3 Bananas, 2 Avacados   $3   cal 800
Lunch   Nuts and Berries   $2   cal 600
Dinner   "The Dickens Taveern Brunch
Kids Pancake $5
2 x Brunch specials $12 each"   $29   cal 3500
I do not live in Longmont so its hard for me to come up with an exact budget friendly eating out menu. But it looks like you could achieve this for under $200 a week at a yearly total of $10,400

My conclusion to this eating out and owning a home with no kitchen is about the same cost as cooking at home with a 450 sqft kitchen.

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1965
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2018, 09:42:58 AM »
I appreciate the attention to detail but this is fallacious in several ways.

The most notable error in thinking is the odd presupposition that a kitchen in a home is somehow an optional perk for which one pays extra, when in fact it's pretty much a standard feature of any property, including rentals.

The price comparison would be more accurate if it was between these options:

1. Be homeless and eat all one's meals in restaurants (quite an interesting proposition; might be cheaper in certain circumstances, but in general being homeless is ironically expensive).

2. Have a home with a kitchen and cook there (no need for a fancy kitchen, but a stove, refrigerator, sink, and a counter should do it--I lived in a studio with a bare bones kitchen like this for 10 years and made most of my meals at home).

3. Have a home with a kitchen and eat all one's meals in restaurants (the realistic alternative to #2--more expensive and inefficient).

4. Some sort of super cheap co-op dorming/roommate situation with a communal kitchen--cheap rent and still cook meals at home. Very inexpensive but not super practical for families.

Cooking at home is pretty much a slam dunk as far as expenses go IF you: shop sales/loss leaders with a price book at grocery stores, have a repertoire of efficient, inexpensive recipes, use a freezer to good advantage, have the discipline to not throw out leftovers in favor of takeout, and buy pantry ingredients in bulk and use them up faithfully. It's just no contest. If you have a family, this becomes even more glaringly apparent. Doing the math isn't even necessary.

« Last Edit: November 10, 2018, 09:45:37 AM by englishteacheralex »

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1764
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2018, 09:44:45 AM »
Well, thatís definitely an interesting lifestyle choice.

My kitchen isnít 450 sq ft, and didnít cost $82 k, and I think restaurant food is kind of gross.


Free Spirit

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 157
  • Be water, my friend.
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2018, 09:56:42 AM »
Also, some of the restaurants mentioned have table service, you forgot to add gratuity to your math. Unless, of course, you plan on saving money by stiffing your server.

Kaplin261

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 321
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Richmond Va
    • Michael Foutz
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2018, 10:01:18 AM »

The most notable error in thinking is the odd presupposition that a kitchen in a home is somehow an optional perk for which one pays extra, when in fact it's pretty much a standard feature of any property, including rentals.


I agree with this, Im not going to be able to buy a home with out a kitchen. However in this case, MMM purchased the home gutted it and rebuilt it. MMM chose to build a kitchen therefore it was optional.

Tass

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1621
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Southern California
  • Working on a PhD...
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2018, 10:23:15 AM »
I highly doubt MMM built the kitchen himself for the average price per square foot in his area, then.

seattlecyclone

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4982
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Seattle, WA
    • My blog
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2018, 10:27:55 AM »

The most notable error in thinking is the odd presupposition that a kitchen in a home is somehow an optional perk for which one pays extra, when in fact it's pretty much a standard feature of any property, including rentals.


I agree with this, Im not going to be able to buy a home with out a kitchen. However in this case, MMM purchased the home gutted it and rebuilt it. MMM chose to build a kitchen therefore it was optional.

Do you think the city's construction department would have allowed him to renovate a house without installing a kitchen? Seems like a dubious proposition to me. Build a house without a kitchen and people start to ask questions about whether it's really a "house" at all, and that brings up a whole host of issues with zoning compliance and stuff.

kei te pai

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 326
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2018, 10:44:04 AM »
A rather simplistic case from the OP. There are other values involved. Like actually honing the skills to prepare healthy meals yourself. Teaching your kids how to prepare real food from scratch. Controlling hygiene and food safety, avoiding commercially prepared ingredients full of articial flavouring and colouring, maybe even cooking food from your own garden!
Just as the amount paid in a shop for an item does not always reflect the true cost (to the environment and other human beings), the cost of eating out and not having a kitchen goes beyond just adding up the obvious numbers.

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3487
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2018, 10:54:30 AM »
Well, we spend about $2,800/year on groceries, and rent a place for $826, which is pretty much the same cost as places you can rent that don't have kitchens but still allow two people. A single person could rent a place without a kitchen for cheaper, starting at about $600/month, but those are about 100 square feet and very strict on one person only. And even then, most people who rent those put together some sort of rudimentary kitchen - like a toaster oven and hot plate or microwave or whatever.

Size-wise, our kitchen is definitely not 450 square feet, since out entire apartment is only 400. Eyeballing it, I think the kitchen would be about 1/4 of the space, or 100 square feet? Which feels like plenty for us. We don't have a lack of space at all. Some of our cupboards we don't even use.

We also have a strong preference for home cooked food and generally don't like restaurants at all. The idea of eating out every day is actually quite revolting.

Ynari

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 527
  • Age: 27
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2018, 11:00:44 AM »
This may be apocryphal, but I remember learning that in ancient Rome, street food was the only way for much of the population to get a hot meal, since they didn't have kitchens in the home. There are still places where cooking options in the home are limited, and dining out is the common way to eat (my friend from Singapore went through some culture shock in the US, since he was used to eating at street vendors for nearly every meal, and it was *relatively* inexpensive, probably because space is more expensive there than in the States). So there is definitely something to the hidden cost of kitchens, but it doesn't quite make sense in the US given our current housing options.

The middle ground may be connected to the growth of communal living spaces. As more people grow isolated in the "single family home" model, designed communities for adults and families are growing. These almost always have large communal cooking spaces, and often trade individual kitchen space for it (though most seem to still maintain kitchenettes of a sort, just not the massive kitchens we see in single family homes). Bonus efficiency: cooking for a crowd decreases the cost per serving.

But in general I think this is an argument against huge, wasteful kitchens, rather than an argument against cooking at home. I use an induction hotplate to cook 90% of my meals in my apartment kitchen. Maybe no huge Thanksgiving feast, but day-to-day cooking doesn't need a huge countertop and double-wide fridge.

eav

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 70
  • Age: 25
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2018, 11:03:28 AM »
If I looked at the raw cost of ingredients for one burrito bowl at Chipotle versus what they charge for one, I would be horrified - then looking at the profits eat-in service restaurants make above added costs for a meal to cover their overhead would put me in to cardiac arrest. The number of stakeholders that need to make money off of each meal you eat out makes it automatically less cost effective.

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3487
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2018, 11:08:01 AM »
This may be apocryphal, but I remember learning that in ancient Rome, street food was the only way for much of the population to get a hot meal, since they didn't have kitchens in the home. There are still places where cooking options in the home are limited, and dining out is the common way to eat (my friend from Singapore went through some culture shock in the US, since he was used to eating at street vendors for nearly every meal, and it was *relatively* inexpensive, probably because space is more expensive there than in the States). So there is definitely something to the hidden cost of kitchens, but it doesn't quite make sense in the US given our current housing options.

The middle ground may be connected to the growth of communal living spaces. As more people grow isolated in the "single family home" model, designed communities for adults and families are growing. These almost always have large communal cooking spaces, and often trade individual kitchen space for it (though most seem to still maintain kitchenettes of a sort, just not the massive kitchens we see in single family homes). Bonus efficiency: cooking for a crowd decreases the cost per serving.

But in general I think this is an argument against huge, wasteful kitchens, rather than an argument against cooking at home. I use an induction hotplate to cook 90% of my meals in my apartment kitchen. Maybe no huge Thanksgiving feast, but day-to-day cooking doesn't need a huge countertop and double-wide fridge.

Yeah, in my first apartment the kitchen had a toaster oven, hot plate, and electric skillet. I managed to cook all sorts of things for two people for like a year and a half. My favourite thing to do was make a batch of pizza dough and chop up a bunch of toppings, then make rectangular toaster oven pizzas for several days in a row. I also made a lot of pasta and tacos. If I could go back I'd try to get a lot more vegetables in, but ultimately everything worked out.

Kaplin261

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 321
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Richmond Va
    • Michael Foutz
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2018, 11:33:47 AM »
Just as the amount paid in a shop for an item does not always reflect the true cost (to the environment and other human beings), the cost of eating out and not having a kitchen goes beyond just adding up the obvious numbers.
The home kitchen is one of the most energy demanding parts of the home. What is more efficient the car that transports 4 people or the bus that can transport 50 people. I think the same holds true for 450 sqft used for 3 people vs a restaurant that has 3000 sqft used for 100 people.

pk_aeryn

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 129
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2018, 11:38:00 AM »
If youíre going to try to factor hidden costs like this, you forgot all of the healthcare costs associated with restaurant food - the cheaper options will be protein deficient and fried starches in soybean oil, and eventually health will suffer.

jim555

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2079
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2018, 11:42:55 AM »
450 sqft for a kitchen, you people must live in big places, that is half the size of my whole place.  Who is going to buy a place without a kitchen anyway?  Horrible resale value.

Askel

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 181
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2018, 11:56:27 AM »
If youíre going to try to factor hidden costs like this, you forgot all of the healthcare costs associated with restaurant food - the cheaper options will be protein deficient and fried starches in soybean oil, and eventually health will suffer.

But don't you see? Living longer actually increases the cost of cooking at home!  Every year is just more money spent on food and opportunity costs of your extravagant kitchen.  Best to just keel over as soon as possible. It's the best way to reduce expenses. 

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5739
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2018, 12:10:26 PM »
If 3 people had to eat out for everything they consumed it would be very expensive.

OtherJen

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1597
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2018, 12:44:10 PM »
450 sqft for a kitchen, you people must live in big places, that is half the size of my whole place.  Who is going to buy a place without a kitchen anyway?  Horrible resale value.

Right?

Wow, 450 sq. ft. is half the size of my entire house. Houses in Longmont must be enormous. I think our kitchen is maybe 150 sq. ft., and that includes our table and four chairs. We have a normal-sized basic fridge, small counters, and a standard 4-burner gas range/oven. No dishwasher. I've cooked and served multiple Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in that room with no problems.

Husband and I spend about $300-350/month on food for the two of us because we cook at home and groceries are one of our few indulgences (and we eat dinner at one of several locally owned restaurants about once a month).

Frankly, some of those restaurant meals sound awful and they don't seem like great deals. Last night, I made a batch of brown rice-quinoa pasta with from-scratch bolognese sauce (including a good splash of homemade red wine) for about $10 total, or $1.25 per generous serving (meaning no extra costs for several lunches). We're planning to have bacon and eggs for dinner tonight at roughly $1 per serving. Maybe we'll add a side of spinach salad for $0.25 each. $12 per person for brunch before tax + tip does not sound like a good deal at all.

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5739
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2018, 01:10:45 PM »
I make a great homemade spaghetti and for $40 can feed 16 people which also includes salad and french bread.  This doesn't include the beverages of course. Unless you eat off the dollar menu at Mac's everyday cooking at home is cheaper.  Not sure but think our kitchen and DR together is about 200 sq ft.

Kaplin261

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 321
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Richmond Va
    • Michael Foutz
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2018, 01:24:20 PM »
If youíre going to try to factor hidden costs like this, you forgot all of the healthcare costs associated with restaurant food - the cheaper options will be protein deficient and fried starches in soybean oil, and eventually health will suffer.

But don't you see? Living longer actually increases the cost of cooking at home!  Every year is just more money spent on food and opportunity costs of your extravagant kitchen.  Best to just keel over as soon as possible. It's the best way to reduce expenses.

What exactly about eating out is unhealthy? A decent restaurant will match the quality of ingredients you buy at a grocery store or may be even better.

2Birds1Stone

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5622
  • Age: 1
  • Location: Earth
  • K Thnx Bye

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5739
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2018, 01:53:19 PM »
Birds:  too funny!

OtherJen

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1597
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #22 on: November 10, 2018, 01:59:58 PM »
Did you learn anything in 2015?

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/eating-at-restaurants-cheaper-then-cooking-at-home/

In light of this gem, OP, I don't think you're going to find what you're looking for here.

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1764
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #23 on: November 10, 2018, 03:24:03 PM »
If youíre going to try to factor hidden costs like this, you forgot all of the healthcare costs associated with restaurant food - the cheaper options will be protein deficient and fried starches in soybean oil, and eventually health will suffer.

But don't you see? Living longer actually increases the cost of cooking at home!  Every year is just more money spent on food and opportunity costs of your extravagant kitchen.  Best to just keel over as soon as possible. It's the best way to reduce expenses.

What exactly about eating out is unhealthy? A decent restaurant will match the quality of ingredients you buy at a grocery store or may be even better.

Have you ever worked in a restaurant??

My kitchen is actually pretty spiffy, and my food is delicious.

OtherJen

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1597
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2018, 03:29:44 PM »
If youíre going to try to factor hidden costs like this, you forgot all of the healthcare costs associated with restaurant food - the cheaper options will be protein deficient and fried starches in soybean oil, and eventually health will suffer.

But don't you see? Living longer actually increases the cost of cooking at home!  Every year is just more money spent on food and opportunity costs of your extravagant kitchen.  Best to just keel over as soon as possible. It's the best way to reduce expenses.

What exactly about eating out is unhealthy? A decent restaurant will match the quality of ingredients you buy at a grocery store or may be even better.

Have you ever worked in a restaurant??

My kitchen is actually pretty spiffy, and my food is delicious.

This. I worked in three different restaurants in college. Unless you're eating at, say, Le Bernardin (or similar), you're getting at best the same level of quality that you can buy in bulk at a warehouse store and paying a big markup for labor, equipment, and dining space. Several different people handle your food before you see it. Hopefully all of them have mastered basic hygiene and are not ill with something contagious.

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1965
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #25 on: November 10, 2018, 03:59:48 PM »
Did you learn anything in 2015?

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/eating-at-restaurants-cheaper-then-cooking-at-home/

In light of this gem, OP, I don't think you're going to find what you're looking for here.

DUDE! You totally posted this exact thread three years ago! Busted! Why you still hung up on this weird idea that doesn't really make sense?

Ecky

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 183
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #26 on: November 10, 2018, 04:25:03 PM »
My kitchen is probably 50 square feet. For 6+ months of the year, the heat used to prepare food is "free" because I'd be running the heater for the house anyway. I'm certain most of the appliances in my (rented apartment) kitchen were scratch 'n dent bargain appliances; there can't be more than $6-800 in total into the kitchen, even if you include things like the sink and overhead fixtures. Restaurant food is not a bargain for me, but I still eat out once in a while because I enjoy it.

wordnerd

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1159
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #27 on: November 10, 2018, 07:59:55 PM »
Did you learn anything in 2015?

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/eating-at-restaurants-cheaper-then-cooking-at-home/

In light of this gem, OP, I don't think you're going to find what you're looking for here.

DUDE! You totally posted this exact thread three years ago! Busted! Why you still hung up on this weird idea that doesn't really make sense?
Maybe this all some experiment to see if the forum has gotten that much softer in the past three years? ;)

JLee

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5634
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #28 on: November 11, 2018, 06:38:04 AM »
My eat-in kitchen is ~160 sq ft (we don't have a dining room).

450 sq is half the size of our whole place.

Askel

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 181
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #29 on: November 11, 2018, 10:02:45 AM »
So if you build a house without a kitchen, where does the party eventually migrate to? 

Plugging Along

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 106
Re: What is the true cost of cooking at home? Could eating out be cheaper?
« Reply #30 on: November 11, 2018, 11:35:53 AM »
There are so many missing consideration and incorrect comparisons.

First, the menu listed assumes that you cook only one meal a day.  I would not be eating those meals every lunch and breakfast.   To make a proper comparison, one must take the actual menus their families eat and then find the equivalent in a restaurant.

The consideration is if you are household that entertains a lot. We have people over all the time for meals.   So you have to have this for take out or catered.   That would also eliminate for us we have a dinner club where we cook our own special dishes potluck style.   We couldnít participate. 

It also donít factor in that some people enjoy cooking, or teaching their kids to cook.   So does this mean I teach my kids to eat out every day for the rest of their life, because I didnít teach them life skills.

Also, how much less would a house without a kitchen sell for.  Even when I lived in Manhattan, we had a 50 sq ft kitchen.  It had a tiny fridge, stove and microwave.   It was so smal mall that two people standing right beside each other could fit.   I would say that the kitchen is the most widely used room in the house next to a bathroom.   I have lived in a loft without a bedroom, but it still had a kitchen. 

Sure, cooking at home has some hidden costs such as electricity, and depreciation on appliances, uses of specialty kitchen gadgets ects.  But it makes not sense to include the capital cost of the kitchen itself.