Saturday, September 25, 2010

Eating in or out

"Ying Yong Prawn Roll" that i had yesterday together with friend after a sweat out....

IS it really cheaper to cook at home than to eat out? Well, that really depends on many variables such as what’s served on the plate and where you eat.

The consensus though appears to be leaning towards the fact that one tends to spend more money eating out.

But if it’s for just a single person, then you could be saving more by eating out. For example, if one wanted to prepare a simple meal at home – a meat and vegetable dish with rice and necessary condiments – those groceries could cost more than opting for a quick fix like a burger, fries and a drink from a drive through which would come up to less than RM10. For that matter, a plate of rice with vegetables and meat outside could also come up to RM5.

If it’s for just a single person, then you could be saving more b y eating out. On the other hand, regular grocery shopping is definitely more cost effective than eating out.

On the other hand, regular grocery shopping is definitely more cost effective than eating out. Not all agree though.

Some feel there’s a price attached to time (there can never be enough hours in a day) and think cooking, which requires a lot more time and resources, is still more expensive.

Typically, the price of restaurant food in a shopping mall is higher than the actual food cost as restaurants do not just charge for food, but the ambience and so forth.

Jasmine Tan, a 28-year old executive, prefers take-aways. “It is easier to buy fast food on the way home from work. Who wants to go home after working all day and spend another hour or so fixing dinner? I sure know I don’t.”

She says she cooks occasionally over the weekends but realises it is far more expensive than calling for delivery or going out to the neighbourhood stalls.

“Groceries are expensive these days. I once bought broccoli, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, pasta, chicken meat, some canned soup, instant noodles and the bill came up to about RM50. And my shopping basket was not even full.”

No wonder Tan opines that eating out is fairly economical, especially for a single person. Of course, eating out has its perks too – no need to set and clean the table, wash the dishes and clear the mess in the kitchen.

“If you live alone, there’s less of an incentive to cook. I think it is less economical to cook for one than to cook for a few people,” she says.

But not everyone shares that option. Emily Lee, a mother of two, says: “Eating out every day would be bliss so I don’t have to cook. But for me, it’s a luxury. We used to eat out everyday but we have been cutting down on that.”

Eating out, she contends, is far more expensive. “The restaurant charges at least RM5 for a glass of orange juice. It cost less than that if you buy from the grocery store. I could take advantage of the promotions as sometimes some stores offer twin packs for fruit juices,” says Lee.

She adds that the money saved from dining out can seem dismissable now, but over the course of a year, would end up being quite substantial.

However, she is not stingy when it comes to grocery. “Admittedly, I spend a fair bit on groceries. Sometimes, I insists on buying organic or speciality products and of course these products cost more.

“We do eat out as well but not extravagantly. Saturday night is usually our eating out night and we usually dine where the kids want to,” she says, adding that she spends around RM140 a week on groceries.

“Sometimes we spend more, especially when we get lots of fruit and vegetables. We are usually out of fresh food by Saturday. But RM140, by and large, covers most of all our basic meals and my kids lunch boxes,” Lee says.

Another young executive, who prefers to eat at home, says you obviously save money because eating out costs more for the same things – for example, buying and cooking fish fillet is generally cheaper than buying fish and chips at a restaurant.

So, is eating at home cheaper than eating out? Ultimately, it’s important to find a balance that works well for you and your budget. Even so, don’t forget to give yourself a gourmet treat every now and then.

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