Home cooked vs Eating out
As a college student in a down economy, money is always an issue for me because I never have any. Between gas spent driving to school, buying fast food and groceries and paying for books I live with a constant credit crunch.
The only expenditure that I can actively control is what types of food to buy and where to buy them. As a college student, you generally eat out a lot. Between going to class, studying and homework and attempting to have a social life, there is not much time to cook your own meals at home. Stopping at McDonalds and spending seven dollars is a lot easier than waking up thirty minutes to an hour earlier to make something to eat for later in the day.
As an alternative to cooking, fast food is appealing to an average college student because it is easy, seems relatively cheap and does not taste terrible. While it is a generally accepted fact that fast food is generally unhealthy for your body, is it unhealthy for your wallet too?
Earlier this semester I spent five days eating out and five days eating meals only cooked at home to explore which option was more cost-effective.
McDonalds was, unfortunately, a staple of my diet during the five days I ate out, and each meal I purchased cost me on average 6$ to 7$ dollars. Over the course of five days, I could spend anywhere between 15$ and 20$ dollars per day on just food. Another thing you have to consider when purchasing fast food is the impact it can have on your health. Most items on fast food menus such as burgers and french-fries are loaded down with grease and saturated fat that don’t exactly contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
The five days I spent eating meals prepared at home was an entirely different story. While I averaged 15$ to 20$ dollars eating out, home cooked meals cost me approximately 9$ dollars per day. This means that my expenditure on food was doubled when I decided to eat out. On top of being significantly cheaper than eating out, home cooked meals have another upside.
When it comes to buying groceries, buying in bulk gives you more food per dollar you spend, making Sam’s Club any college student’s best friend. With fast food you are paying by the meal, but buying in bulk is not only a cheaper alternative but also provides multiple meals and snacks for a fraction of the cost of eating out.
When deciding what to eat and where to get it, the choice is a battle of convenience and money. But if you are looking to consistently save money, then home cooked meals are the way to go.