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You may have read studies before explaining it is cheaper to eat out than to cook at home. This study is very far from the truth. Maybe it is to sway families to spend more money eating out in a way to boost the economy; however, it is cutting into any money they could actually save. A recent report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch stated that since the middle of 2009, families are spending around 4.5 percent of their paychecks on dining out.
A look at eating out compared to preparing your meals at home for one person with average prices of the restaurants in the United States.
MacDonald's Big Mac Meal, which includes fries and a drink:- $5.69
Burger King's Whopper Meal, which includes fries and a drink:- $5.79
Sonic Cheeseburger Combo, which includes fries/tots and drink:- $5.49
Preparing at Home
One pound of ground chuck:- $3.60
Package of buns:- $2.79
One pound of lettuce:- $1.69
One pound of tomatoes:- $1.70
Frozen fries:- $2.99
2 Liters of Coke:- $1.79
When you purchase all the above ingredients and cook your own burgers at home, you can actually fix 6 to 8 burgers of the same size as the ones you would receive in the restaurants. If you ate the same meal at MacDonald's 8 times you would be paying $45.52 for what you could fix at home for only around $14.56.
How to Make the Switch
The very first thing you must do in order to start eating more at home instead of spending money eating out is to plan. You should figure out the meals you want to eat for the week and create a grocery list. Some of the items you purchase will last longer than the week such as mustard or oil for cooking, which will save even more money.
Watch Grocery Sale Bills
If you do not want to spend hours clipping coupons, that is understandable. Just watch the paper usually on Wednesdays and you will see which stores have items on sale. You can even plan your meals around the sale items. Example: Star-Kist tuna is on sale, so plan tuna salad for one day and tuna casserole for another day.
Meals for One
For one person, it can be difficult to make smaller dishes of your favorite meals such as meat loaf or fried chicken. The good news is that your leftovers can be frozen and then easily heated in the microwave. The same goes for breakfast items. Make your own breakfast burritos or a large stack of pancakes and the entire pound of sausage. Now, divide these up into meals. You can easily put these in the microwave while you are getting ready for work in the morning and have a nice home cooked meal instead of stopping off for fast food on your way to work.
Do not throw out leftovers. Place them in the refrigerator and get them for snacks when you want a quick bite. Once meals are prepared, they will last up to 7 days in the refrigerator.
Good luck on switching and watch your wallet grow!