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Dining Out vs. Eating at Home

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For some Americans, going out to eat is a treat, planned and budgeted for. For others, it’s just another Tuesday. And Wednesday. And Thursday.

If you’re part of that second group, you might want to reconsider… for a couple reasons.

Tough on your wallet

The average American family spends $225 a month eating away from home – lunches, dinners, snacks, coffees. Much of this spending occurs simply because it’s convenient. However, what you save in convenience, you lose in cold, hard cash.

Take buying lunch. If you go out to eat every workday and spend, on average, $10 per meal, it comes out to $2,500 a year, CNBC’s Jonathan Blumberg reports. Making your own lunch, meanwhile, will cost you half that. One VISA survey found you only spend on average $6.30 when you bring something you prepared at home.

Setting up the coffee pot before you go to bed takes just a moment or two – and you can basically have a cup waiting for you when you’re ready to go in the morning. It’s easy to make convenient lunches for yourself in advance that are much cheaper, tastier, healthier, and just as quick as anything you can get at the drive-thru. The same holds true for going out for dinner – if you know what you’re doing in the kitchen, you can have a great meal on the table in fifteen minutes, giving you a full evening to relax at home.

Tough on your body

Not only does dining out put a dent in your finances, it takes a toll on your body, too. Frequency of dining out has been linked to America’s obesity epidemic, as noted by researchers at Tuft’s University.  A review of information, by Tufts researchers, found in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics “restaurant dishes at non-chain establishments across the country typically contain 1,200 calories.”  Many people are unaware of the calorie content of the foods they consume and are likely underestimating calorie intake.

Although restaurants are offering more nutritious food options these days, the choices are often limited. Most foods that are served in restaurants contain high amounts of fat and calories, and they can be detrimental to your health if they are consumed on a regular basis. If you eat at home, you can choose your own low-fat and low-calorie ingredients to prepare your meals. Eating at home is one of the best ways to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Given the huge cost difference between eating out and dining in – and given the special experience that dining out can be – you’re much better off if you save dining out for special occasions and eat at home the rest of the time. If you do this, not only will your food budget thank you, but you’ll look & feel better along the way.


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