Why should fast food and eating out be cheaper than dining in?

by Mike on May 26, 2014

dining in

Alright I will admit up front that one of my personal financial pitfalls is that my lady and I love eating out just as much as dining in! And it stands to reason that eating or dining out under normal circumstances should affect our finances but recently I noticed something. Previously I had taken the time to write about eating in with Groceries vs dining out and during this I challenged your thinking as to what was cheaper. But now I am starting to see an alternate to this…that choosing to eat junk/unhealthy meals are even cheaper than eating at home!

So should we be eating junk food to save?

Why does it seem some companies are almost tempting us to eat their junk food in order to save money at the cost to our health?

Why should I be financially tempted to eat junk instead of paying more to eat healthy?

 Example 1 – Dining in Breakfast

Take for example an awesome breakfast cooked by my lady recently at home. Smoked salmon omelets with dill, goats cheeese and toast served with coffee. The following made one omelet each.

Rough costings for three of these;

$5.95 Smoke Salmon
$2.50 Eggs
$0.75 Cream
$1.30 Goats Cheese
$1.00 Dill
$1.20 Chive
$0.50 Toast
$0.60 Coffee

$13.80 Total

Not a bad meal and quite comparable with heading out to a cafe and ordering similar right? Sounds reasonably health too!

Plan B lets try out some home made ham & egg muffins with the following making 3 muffins;

$3.00 Ham
$2.95 Muffins
$0.80 Cheese
$1.90 Eggs
$0.25 Sauce

$8.90 Total

Sounds fair for two people right? Add in some coffee and its looking like a nice homemade meal. The only problem with this is at the moment you can get a sausage & egg or bacon & egg Mcmuffin AND a hash brown for $3.00 including tax. I am speaking from experience here we actually had these yesterday on our way out to meet some friends. I add in a coffee for me and it was a grand total of $12.50.

So by eating out I actually end up with more food for the same money, it was convenient to grab on our way somewhere and by not eating healthy filled my stomach more! Crazyness!

Example 2 – Dining in Dinner

I LOVE burgers I really do and to me nothing better than a burger and a beer in my world especially as I actually rarely eat them (interferes with my training). The actual cost of producing some burgers at home looks okay until I give you the costings! Of course this can vary depending on your personal preferences but you get my drift.

Rough costings for two home made burgers and a drink each;

$1.90 Bread Rolls
$2.75 Patties
$1.75 Bacon
$0.80 Pineapple
$1.50 Cheese
$0.50 Tomato
$0.30 Onion
$0.30 Sauce
$2.00 Cans of Coke

$11.80  Total

And yet in comparison to this Hungry Jacks (Burger King for you Americans out there) are offering 4 Burgers, 4 fries, 4 cokes for around $16.00 inc tax (I lost the flier with the exact pricing sorry!). And not only do I get more food compared to dining in once again I can eat almost straight away and don’t have to clean up the mess when I am finished. I don’t even need to mention the nine pieces of fried chicken for $9.95 compared to trying to make my own chicken wings with sauce!

Why should junk food be cheaper than dining in?

So for those of us on tight budgets or watching where our cash is spent fast food companies are not only tempting us with food which our bodies think taste great but often have a negative effect on our health.  But their also marketing for our hip pocket by making the family sized meals or meal packages so cheap!. I remember when I was young I felt spending $9 on a meal was a lot of money but now I seem to have come a full 360 at close to forty. Now I have to evaluate my meals impact on my health, my financial bottom line and even how hungry I am and how full I want to be when I am done. And funnily enough I still think $9 for a junk food meal seems like a lot!

You also have to wonder about the factors which make junk food considerably cheaper than buying healthy and dining in. Does it cost more for the beef in their burgers or are they simply getting a better deal? Is it the power of all of their chains/stores which allow them to make offers cheaper than cooking better or similar meals ourselves? Or are they skimping on something to do this pricing?

I think deep down I am quite offended that eating healthy needs to cost more and that choosing to eat junk food is a valid way to save money eating out. But like any financial decision I will way up positives, negatives and return on investment before buying junk tonight and I do know I still want to stay on


Know someone who chooses junk food to save? Spending more to be healthy and achieve your fitness goals? Leave us a comment and dont forget to share for all your other friends before they go dining in tonight!




***Photo thanks to Gino***

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