Everyone knows that buying your own groceries and doing your own cooking is cheaper than going out for dinner every night. But you might not realize just how much money you waste when you spend more time in restaurants than in the kitchen. According to new federal data, that price gap is getting bigger and bigger.
The average price of groceries usually goes up every year by 2.5 percent or so, but this year it fell 0.5 percent. On the other hand, meal prices at restaurants continue to rise by 2.7 percent, which is a lot more than the average inflation rate of 1.4 percent. In other words, that burger you eat twice a week is getting more and more expensive, while your groceries are getting cheaper.
Since people are eating out more often these days, restaurants will likely continue to raise their prices to keep up with labor costs and rising minimum wage rates as long as customers keep coming in. Still, this doesn't seem to turn away too many people. For the first time since 1992, we are spending way more money at bars and restaurants than we are at grocery stores.
It can be a lot of work to buy groceries and prep your meals, but when we spend that much on take out and dining in, it could be worth it.
Of course, not everyone has the time or energy to whip up a healthy, tasty dish every night. But there are so many one-pot recipes out there that even beginners can throw together in a flash. They take less time than picking up your takeout that there's really no excuse. If you clean up while you cook, there will be hardly any work left to do when you finish.
A great way to keep your expenses in check is to keep track of exactly how much money you spend eating out per week. Write down your costs as you go, and you'll probably notice that they add up to a lot more than you thought. Before you know it, you'll think twice every time you eat out and start cutting back.