Eating In Vs Eating Out- The Comparison

I had to write this post after eating out as I was just shocked at the cost of our meal at a well-known chain Restaurant. I used some gift cards I had received from Christmas to pay for the order. It wasn’t on my dime but I had to use them before they expired.

So it’s my birthday and the wife and I decide to order some take out and enjoy the evening watching a movie. We don’t normally eat-in at restaurants  for 3 reasons:

  • High priced food
  •  15-25% Tips to the staff
  • We like to eat home cooked meals

We are frugal that’s no secret but eating out has never been big on our agenda unless we were travelling. Yes I know you are saying we need to “live a little” and you are right we should, but at what cost.

Cost of Eating Out vs Eating In

Here is the run down from last nights meal.. out of 5 stars we gave it a 3.5

We thought we had $15.00 on one gift card and $13.00 on the other. We wanted to go over that price so we didn’t have a balance on the cards. The likelihood of us eating there for a while was slim.

  • 1 order Bacon Cheeseburger with home cut fries- $13.49
  • 1 order Turkey Burger with home cut fries $12.99
  • Total with tax $27.97
  • If we tipped at 20%-$5.60
  • Total would have been -$33.56 but we didn’t eat in it was take-out so final cost $27.97 for us.

Keep in mind here folks it took us a while to order as it was difficult to justify spending $16.99 on a salad with chicken, oh the outrageous costs we all pay for convenience.

So I said to myself, “self…. what could I buy at the grocery store that was comparable  to what I ate at the restaurant”. Keep in mind we pay for those nifty take out trays as well.

Grocery Store Products

What I could have purchased at the grocery store: These are approximate prices and may differ where you live.

  • 5lb bag of potatoes for $1.99
  • Jar of  dill pickles $2.79
  • 1 Tomato – $0.25
  • 1 Head of Lettuce $1.00
  • 1lb of bacon $2.99
  • 1 bag of  burger buns $1.99
  • 1x jug of vegetable oil $4.77
  • 1 box of salt $0.59
  • 1 lb  beef- $3.99
  • 1x 500 g brick of Black Diamond Cheese $6.99
  • dozen eggs- $2.29
  • 1 container  bread crumbs $1.29
  • Pkg of ground pepper $1.99

Total for all of this would cost $32.92 

Keep in mind the quantity is much more and you could make at least 4 burgers and tonnes of french fries with a 5lb bag with leftover spices,pickles, bacon, lettuce etc. You also need to factor in time, hydro, water, tools.  Is the cost of this still making you shy away from eating at home? After all being the chef means you know what you are eating.

If you were to pay a gratuity the cost we figured above was estimated at $33.56- 32.92= .64. So you would spend .64 more eating in at a restaurant eating this food on a cost per food basis.

Keep in mind we didn’t even order a drink with this food. So you could order water or buy a litre bottle of pop for .99 at the grocery store for take home.

My point here is not that you shouldn’t eat out at restaurants, rather be realistic with your budget.

Money Saving Budget Tips For Eating Out!
  • Stop eating out so much:  Once you set up a budget you will know how much you have to spend on entertainment or eating out
  • If you want to eat out get take out it’s cheaper
  • Don’t be lazy, cook. If you don’t know how to cook, learn, unless you don’t mind making others rich.
  • Have friends over and have a pot-luck or vice versa if you like to have company while eating a meal, it’s cheaper.
  • Be realistic with the numbers, think about what you could have purchased and how many people you could have fed on that $200 restaurant bill.

So go ahead enjoy your $16.00 hamburger and fries while eating out, but be mindful of how you are spending the money in your budget. If you don’t spend your entertainment money one month save it for another so you can spend a bit more on the next.

Happy Eating Folks.

P.S- The gift cards had $15.00 and $18.47 on them and the bloke offered to give me the change $5.50. I wasn’t going to argue it was $5.50 I didn’t have before I walked into the establishment!

Quote-Budget and Money

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I’m from the UK and now a recent permanent resident in Canada. I bought my first house at the age of 21 after University then my second at the age of 24. I’ve always been fascinated with personal finance, savings, learning to make money and watch it grow while combating debts along the way. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where I get to share my experiences with personal finance and learn about yours along the way. I hope you stick around and check me out on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest where I am active on all social media sites. Cheers, Mr.CBB


  1. I love your blog post you and your wife and me and my husband are so likeminded :) Last night I so wanted a steak but know that with us and a fourteen year old son and an almost 20 year old daughter this is not cheap…..a visit to our local steak house runs us close to $90.00 with meals,tax, gratuity…that doesn’t even count our gas to get there! So last night my husband and I went to our grocery store and bought 2 rib eyes and a bag of miscut steaks what we do is cut them off into sections and divide by the four of us fairly equally although my son is 6’4″ so he often gets the lions share ;)…….Anyways we grilled this up and served this with with my homemade creamed spinach, sauteed mushrooms, and rolls all for about $28.00 and we have leftover steaks for another meal and we also got a Redbox movie for a $1.00…not a bad night at home for under $30! Thanks for this post it is so relevant and we can relate!

    • That’s awesome, thanks for sharing that story. That was my point exactly. Some people don’t think twice about blowing $200 on a meal at the restaurant. That’s a months worth of groceries for the 2 of us. Don’t be lazy I say cook at home! Enjoying a meal at a restaurant once in a while makes it all the more special then if you do it once a week. You also won’t pass out when you get your credit card bill and find out you’ve spent $500 on eating out plus groceries. Mr.CBB :)

  2. ‘So I said to myself, “self…. what could I buy at the grocery store that was comparable to what I ate at the restaurant”. ‘ I do this with just about everything! It’s great to see others doing it as well. Makes me feel a little better about being obsessed with NOT spending money. Thanks for the great post!

    • Oh you mean the process not that we actually talk to ourselves and we are nutty. Yes we do the same for everything. It makes sense to stop and smell the Rose’s for a moment. It helps to be mindful about what you do with the cash! I’m glad you liked the post and to think it was inspired by a Hamburger.

  3. Barb Edwards says:

    I too have difficult time justifying “eating out”. I realize how expensive it can be for two people to dine out let alone a large family . One of the hardest things for me to comprehend at a restaurant is when I see a family of say three small children order a full meal for each and every person. So often the children only eat a small portion of what is offered to them and the rest is left for garbage. I do not understand why parents do not share meals among their children any more. I do realize at say McDonalds each child wants their own toy which comes with a full meal, but one can buy the toy separately if they must and still come out ahead. It all seems like such a waste of not only money but food as well.

    • My wifes mate who never eats leftovers in her house.. It breaks my heart when she tosses all the food in the garbage. It got to the point where the wife would take food home to not see it wasted. Yep no leftovers ever.. sad. As for kids getting adult meals, that’s a bit much considering most places have kids meals or they can split a meal. Thanks for your comment Barb. Mr.CBB

  4. Christine Weadick says:

    I’m just as bad… really I don’t care to eat out as all I can think of is that I could make this at home for less and it would be better tasting, plus I would have the left-overs for another meal. We will order pizza once or twice a year… usually 2 large so it’s lunch the next day as well for the 4 of us. We used to order Chinese one a year or so and I’d order a couple of meals worth there too but the place has new owners and I heard through the old grape vine that the food isn’t as good now. Such is life. I collect cookbooks so there is no shortage of ideas here for a meal. As for left-overs, that’s planned in around here. One example is if we have a roast of beef… one meal to start, next night is left-overs with extra mashed potatoes made both nights. The third night I toss the left over beef, cut-up, with the left-over gravy and any veggies (if there’s not enough veggies I toss in some frozen ones right from the freezer) and top with those potatoes and a little grated cheese as my boys love cheese.Fire it into the oven for a while and supper is Shepards Pie, maybe with some left-over cole-slaw and the cole-slaw dressing uses mayo and left-over pickle juice for flavour….. One roast/ 3 meals/4 adults.I laughed when you were talking about that friend…… I was talking to my hair dresser once about cooking and she was horrified….her mother-in-law tosses food too. Left-overs do not happen there. She grew up as the third of 4 kids and left-overs were a fact of life. Granted they live on a farm and the beef is on the hoof in the field but she was floored by her MIL!!!!!

  5. Donna Andrew says:

    Where in Canada do you live? I live on Vancouver Island and our food costs are way higher than yours. bag of burger buns, $3.49, 1# bacon $5.49 on sale. potatoes.. $3.99 – $5.00 for 5 pounds,, depending.. you get my drift.

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