You can’t do much in the short term about your mortgage, car payment and insurance bills. These are called fixed expenses because they don’t change from month to month. If you want savings in real time, you have to address your variable expenses. Cooking in for dinner, instead of going out or ordering in, is a powerful way to do this.
1. Saves Money
This one is a no-brainer. Dinner for four at home costs half or less the price of dinner for for out on the town. Although single people living alone experience diminishing returns on this benefit, even shopping for one can be cheaper than dining out alone.
2. Saves Time
Contrary to popular belief, you can cook a nutritious meal in less than the 20 to 30 minutes it takes to run for take-out. Since saving time is one of the main reasons families say they “have to” eat out, this truth can be a great motivator for breaking out the cooking supplies.
3. Puts You In Control
From menu planning to ingredient costs, cooking in means you make all the important choices about what you eat. In a restaurant, your choices are far more limited — meaning you have less input in exactly what your monthly food budget can look like.
4. Means Healthier Eating
The typical restaurant makes food taste good using sugar, fat or salt — or a combination of those ingredients. Cooking in means you can use herbs, spices and quality ingredients to make your food delicious. That replacement is better for your health, equating to fewer doctor visits and the accompanying co-payments.
5. Avoids Impulse Buys
When was the last time you had an appetizer, or after-dinner coffee, at home? Restaurant eating is full of opportunities to make impulse buys you wouldn’t make at home — or to spend far more on a drink or treat than at the grocery. Cooking in avoids all of that, meaning short-term savings and often long-term weight control.
6. Adds Variety
Despite the hundreds of restaurants available in most cities, the majority of people eat at only a handful of them — and often order the same two or three things at each restaurant. Cooking in limits your options only to what ingredients you can find at the local grocery.
7. Is For Lunchtime, Too
Cooking a little extra at night means delicious box lunches at work the next day. Since most people who eat out regularly do so at lunchtime, this alone can save you $250 to $500 a month.
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