Will you save money by cooking at home? The answer is and has always been yes.
That’s no surprise! Cooking your meals at home saves you the cost of someone else cooking for you. If you’re eating at a restaurant, the cost of their maintenance, bills, utensils, and more is much higher than what you’re paying, albeit in a small amount.
In a survey by Forbes, restaurant meals cost 5× more than home-cooked meals and 3× more than a meal kit vs cooking from scratch.
That’s a substantial amount of money you could save. Suppose a restaurant meal costs $30. You can make it at home for $6. You’re saving $24 on just one meal. One meal! If you’re following a 50-20-30 budget rule to save money, cooking at home will save you a great sum from both your needs and wants (80% of your budget), and you can add it to your savings and end up with more.
However, it can be argued that saving money with home-cooked meals is an illusion, because you will end up spending the same amount by the end of the year. So, we’ll craft a whole debate for you right here.
The ‘cooking at home saves you money’ argument
As mentioned before, the contributing factor to saving money by cooking at home is that you only have to pay for the ingredients. In any restaurant, whether it be 1 star or 5 stars, the cost of ingredients is usually the same, and it makes up about 30% of your bill. In that sense, cooking at home saves you the other 70%.
But what is the other 70% for? The restaurant’s cost for the establishment, the people, and the skill they’re offering at your convenience. It would help if you let go of one thing when cooking at home: convenience. This takes us to the other side of the argument.
When you let go of the convenience of eating out, you also lose some precious time. As they say, time is money, so you might be losing money cooking at home rather than saving it.
The ‘cooking at home costs you time’ argument
Cooking is a strenuous task. You’ll need to take time out of your schedule to buy the ingredients and think about what to cook. If you don’t already know how to cook many dishes, you’ll need to spend time looking for a recipe to suit your taste. The most time-consuming part is preparing the ingredients, e.g. washing, cutting, and peeling.
By the time you finally sit down to eat, you’ll realize that three hours have passed!
Ideally, you could use that time to polish a skill that will pay you in the future (though cooking is also that skill), use it to avail a better earning opportunity, or work on a side hustle. These things will help you make more money so you won’t have to worry about saving money, right?
Well, you’re partially right. However, one aspect we’re ignoring here is that not everyone has a side hustle or a reason to keep looking for better-earning opportunities. Most people are satisfied with their career choice, working hours, and paychecks.
But there are the hustlers. We know them; we might be one of them. The kind to buy street food to save both time from cooking and money from eating out at restaurants. They’d make a compromise between both and choose chaos. Why chaos? Because we all know that street food wouldn’t be your nutritionist’s favorite, as it’ll affect your health in the worst ways possible.
The health argument
The greatest benefit of cooking your meals at home is that it will help you stay healthy. You can plan your meals, check the quality of ingredients, and cook food to align with your preferences and health conditions.
You can’t do that with street food or even restaurant food. Of course, you can trust them not to serve you a salad from yesterday. But most establishments serve food without a nutrition label. If you value your health, a 3-hour investment in cooking your own meals isn’t a bad deal. However, there’s a catch – you can cut that short to less than an hour, saving time and money.
Efficient meal prep
Cooking at home will take up so much of your time if you do everything last minute. Becoming more efficient in planning and preparing your meals will save you a fair amount of time.
Here’s what efficient meal prep is all about:
- Do grocery shopping weekly, not daily
- If you tend to have a busy week, make meals for an entire week on Saturday or Sunday and store them in your freezer. When you want your meals, simply unfreeze and eat.
- Make your meal kits on weekends or buy meal kits from stores. They are still better than street food.
By considering these points, you can see that cooking at home saves you money, time, and health. Sometimes, it’s not about money or time, but joy. Cooking can be therapeutic for many, helping us unwind from an exhausting day. Even if you’re not currently keen on cooking at home, give it a try for its endless benefits.