Opinion | Save money by cooking, not eating out


Photo Courtesy of Theresa Hogue/Flickr

Two people hover over a pot making dinner on May 5, 2010. Columnist Chiara Awatramani believes it is better to save money by cooking at home then going out to eat.

By Chiara Awatramani, Columnist

After a long day of classes, exams, meetings and so many other activities, the last thing on most people’s minds is cooking. The effort and time spent preparing a meal can be daunting and grabbing a quick sandwich from Jimmy Johns on the way home seems much more convenient. However, the slight convenience of eating out is greatly outweighed by the benefits of cooking —  in particular the monetary savings and health benefits.

The average meal at a fast food joint like McDonald’s or Taco Bell will range anywhere from $5 to $7. Eating out twice a day at fast food restaurants for a week would dent your wallet by about $70. In comparison, the average student’s weekly grocery bill for eating three meals a day is around $40 to $60. By spending their money at restaurants, a student can purchase fewer meals than if they cooked comparable meals at home. 

Even with this massive difference in cost, students still hesitate to cook. Some might say time is money and eating out just takes less time. Some may be surprised to discover the average time to make a meal for those aged between 18 and 24 is 20 minutes. Walking to a restaurant, ordering and waiting for food easily takes 10 minutes or more. Hence, the difference in convenience between cooking and eating out is not as vast as one might think. 

Another benefit to cooking as opposed to eating at restaurants is health. Home cooking is almost always more healthy than eating at fast food restaurants because the food is less processed, making it more nutritious and less caloric. 

For example, a Big Mac contains 540 calories, 950 milligrams of sodium and 28 grams of fat. On the other hand, a homemade burger can range from 300 to 500 calories but with only 400 milligrams of sodium and includes more vitamins such as B-12 and B-6. Eating at home remains the healthier dining option. 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Beyond that, cooking at home is healthier because individuals personally control what goes into the meals. Ways to eat healthier include adding less sugar or adding a low sodium option to a meal — a luxury that is not available when eating at restaurants. 

Cooking meals as opposed to buying them from restaurants is a much cheaper and healthier dining option. So while walking home tonight, consider the benefits of cooking up a meal instead of stopping at Taco Bell and look up some delicious recipes.

Chiara is a sophomore in LAS.

[email protected]