Save Money – Cooking at Home vs Ordering Out

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Inflation has hit food hard.  Eggs, steak, milk, everything is more expensive. Although it is well known that home cooking is cheaper than dining out, just how much money can you save by preparing your own meals?

We will examine the price differences of eating out vs spending time cooking for yourself. Comparing some of the most popular fast food options to simple home cooked meals, we can obtain the following price breakdown:

Fast Food at McDonalds

Big Mac Meal: $7.99

Whopper Meal: $6.49

Wendy’s Baconator: $10.29

(Prices may vary by region)

These price look very cheap,  but can we do better at home?

Home Cooking

Yes, we can do better. Here are some simple ingredients we can use to make delicious meals.

8 oz Chicken Breast: $2 8g fat, 70g protein, 367 calories

8 oz Steak: $6 34g fat, 62g protein, 572 calories

8 oz Atlantic Salmon: $6 24.5g fat, 45g protein, 415 calories

1 head broccoli: $2

Asparagus: $3

1 lb White Rice: $1 3g fat, 362.5g carbs, 32.5g protein

1 lb Orzo: $2.5 7g fat, 338g carbs, 60g protein

Home-Cooked Meals Analysis

We can combine a protein, vegetable, and carb to create a cheap, simple meal. Here are some examples.

Chicken, Broccoli (4oz), White rice (6oz, cooked): ~$3

Steak, Asparagus (5 pieces), Orzo (6oz, cooked): ~$7.5

Salmon, Broccoli (4oz), White rice (6oz, cooked): ~$7

As you can see, all of these options are comparable in price to the fast food options. Chicken is especially cheap, and is by far the best value meal on this list for nutrients and price. Even cooking a more expensive meat like steak or salmon is still very cost effective, though, so it should not be discounted.




Nutritional Analysis

So now that we know that it is cheaper to home cook meals than eat fast food, how do the nutritional contents of these two options compare?

Our fast food meals have calorie breakdowns as follows:

Big Mac Meal: 44g fat, 149g carbs, 29g protein, 1080 calories

Whopper Meal: 65g fat, 185g carbs, 35g protein, 1210 calories

Wendy’s Baconator: $10.29 84g fat, 160g carbs, 65g protein, 1630 calories

Furthermore, processing food in this way eliminates essential micronutrients and vitamins that will not only benefit health in the long run, but make you feel better day to day.

Eating our home-cooked meals retains these micronutrients and vitamins, and is far more healthy in regard to fat and carbohydrate intake. Furthermore, they are much more filling with far less calories, making it easier to stick to a lower calorie diet. Here is the macroniutrient breakdown of our meals:

Chicken, Broccoli (4oz), White rice (6oz, cooked): 8.5g fat, 45.5g carbs, 74g protein ~600cal

Steak, Asparagus (5 pieces), Orzo (6oz, cooked): 35g fat, 42.25g carbs, 70g protein ~800cal

Salmon, Broccoli (4oz), White rice (6oz, cooked): 25g fat, 45.5g carbs, 49g protein ~700cal

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you have the time, it is a good idea to strive to cook meals, because they are not only cheaper (even more so using cash back on credit cards, or coupons for grocery stores), but far healthier in terms of calories and vitamins, and make you feel much better both short and long term.

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