I come from a big family. One that’s currently, always on the go. Even my own family is growing quickly and always out and about. When it comes time to grab a bite, it’s really hard to make the choice for eating in vs dining out.

There is an argument for eating in that states, if you travel to grab a bite, or go to a sit down restaurant, you’ll spend more time out than if you just made the meal yourself. While that may be true, it’s not a very strong argument against dining out when all things are considered.  For one thing, when dining out, you can have a relaxing evening. If you do it just right, like our challenge on this site, you can get out of there for under $25 for a family of 4-5 with leftovers to spare.

The last home cooked meal we had here cost roughly $30 as we had to buy some of the ingredients, but the meal itself was quite modest. A soup in fact, with a side of french bread at $1/loaf. The soup consisted of some canned ingredients, and some vegetables that were purchased during a previous trip. We have enough leftovers from that meal to last another two meals.

The night prior, we eat out. We strategically eat out on kids-eat-free night and ended up with one large adult entree and one child’s entree which the two kids we had with us at the time split. We took home two large togo boxes after the meal and only spent $16 including tip. Those leftovers will also last us two additional lunches (where the soup could fill a dinner spot) or dinner if we add sides to the leftovers.

So for about half the price, we eat out and had nearly the same amount of food left over.

Does this apply to every dining out experience? Of course not. Sometimes we eat at higher scaled restaurants where we don’t take home as many leftovers and we end up with a bigger bill. Sometimes we plan a meal at home that costs less than the soup we had. But to argue that dining out vs dining in will always be more expensive, or vise versa, isn’t at all realistic.

What’s your experience. Do you find eating in much cheaper than dining out?

Melissa Batai
Melissa Batai

Melissa, a mom to three little ones (ages 7, 3 and 1), blogs at both Mom’s Plans where she writes about living a fulfilling life on less and paying down debt, and Fiscal Phoenix where she writes about rising from the ashes of your financial mistakes.