Take Out Meal versus Homemade Dinner

You’re starving, your kids are falling apart and the last thing you want to do is make dinner. Sound familiar?

This is a scenario is that is incredibly common in our busy lives these days. In those moments it can be incredibly tempting to order pizza or Chinese, swing by Chipotle, or pick up some prepared foods from the local grocery store. But in addition to this not being the healthiest choice for our bodies, it is also seriously hard on our wallets, and, in reality, doesn’t even save us time. So is it really worth it?

Let’s look at an example. Burritos. Even if Chipotle (or any other burrito place) is right on your way home from work, let’s say it takes an extra 20 minutes to stop, park, order and pick up the food, get back to your car, and get home. And let’s say that you bought four burritos. That would cost you about $27-30.

Now, let’s say you had that same 20 minutes at home. Could you make burritos in the same amount of time? And how much would it cost?

Making the dish. Rice takes about 25 minutes (including bringing the water to a boil). In the time that it takes to make the rice it would be easy to open a can of black beans and heat them with wonderful spices and maybe a little onion and garlic (and a whole lot less salt!), sautee some chicken strips with some spices, and chop up a bunch of vegetables to add in. So in 5 extra minutes you have made dinner (and likely leftovers for lunch the next day).

Cost. A cup of rice costs about $.10. A can of beans costs about $0.89. Organic chicken strips (to make life easier so you don’t have to cut the chicken) are about $6.99/lb and you’ll only need about ¼ pound for four people, so that’s $1.75. Depending on what veggies you choose you might spend between $2 and $4 on them. Pre-grated cheese (again, to make life easier) is about $8.99/lb, but you will only use about ¼ pound, so that’s about $2.25. And tortillas are about $3 for a pack of 8, so you’ll spend $1.50. For a (conservative) grand total of: $10.39!!

So for $10.39 and 5 extra minutes, you could you make a much healthier version of what you would buy for $30 (and you’d have leftovers to take to work the next day, which would mean no extra money spent on lunch). Even without the leftovers perk that is $20 saved. Even if you made that sort of change once a week you are talking more than $1,000 a year!! Makes you stop and think, huh?

If you are interested in learning more about finances and food, please join Lori Atwood of Lori Atwood-Fearless Finance and me for our workshop 30 minutes, $30: How Spend Less and Eat Better in Less Time.

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