Changing your food habits is one of the easiest ways to save money. (Here are some of our favorites.)
Food is one of the three largest categories of expenses in most people’s budgets (housing, transportation, and food, in that order), according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s very easy after a long day of work to just order in, take out, or eat in a restaurant instead of cooking at home. (Shopping, preparing, cooking, cleaning up can just seem like more work.) Or maybe you don’t have the right cooking skills and don’t really know how to make a hamburger or cook anything that doesn’t come in a box or a bag with microwave instructions printed on the side.
Cooking at home is a great thing to start doing for many reasons:
- Cooking dinner is a creative and fun way to de-stress at the end of a long day.
- Cooking with your significant other, your roommates and friends, or your kids is a great bonding activity.
- A home-cooked meal will usually be much healthier than most of the food you can get at a restaurant (less salt, less fat, fewer calories, healthier, and fresher. You can even become a locavore!).
- You can customize the ingredients and cooking style for your own tastes instead of settling for the way things are made at a restaurant.
- And finally, there’s no disputing the enormous monetary savings in your wallet. Restaurants have to charge you for things like overhead, advertising, waitstaff, and chefs, etc., in addition to just the cost of the food itself. Then there’s the enormous markup on things like beer, wine, and other drinks. Add in a tip of 15-20% on top of all this, and your bill can be 4-times or more what you would spend to prepare this meal at home.
For each recipe in “Simmering Savings,” we list the “BankRoll,” which is the estimated cost per person to prepare the meal. It will also show a comparison of what a similar dish might cost you if you got it from a restaurant. (These costs are based on NYC prices, where we are located.) We will show you the cost savings and what you could do with those savings by investing the difference at various rates of return for different amounts of time, based on age.
So whip out your skillet and saucepan, a wooden spoon and a potholder, and let’s make some greens together. For every meal you cook at home instead of eating in a restaurant, you can see how the savings could potentially build up over time.
And PLEASE send us your own favorite recipes. For any recipe you send (photos also welcome!), feel free to estimate the cost per serving of the ingredients and the approximate cost to order that dish at your local restaurant. You can send your original recipes to [email protected]. If we are intrigued by your dish, we will try it out in our “test kitchen.” If we like it, we will contact you for permission to include your recipe on our site. We don’t pay for recipes, but we will mention your name with the dish if you’d like.
If you try our recipes, lettuce know what you think. If you find ways to change them up, please let us know that too. (You can give us some FEEDback through our Contact Us form.)
Become a Simmering Saver and start saving more money.
Join us at the Compounding Table.
Check out our growing section of Simmering Savings recipes to see some delicious ways to save (and invest) more.