The cost of eating-out

Maybe you don’t like to cook; or you don’t know how to cook; or you just don’t have time after a long day at work to cook; or you don’t have time to make a lunch box before going to work in the morning. Whatever your reason is, you end-up eating out a lot. Have you ever wondered how much your eating-out habit is actually costing you? Time to stop wondering and time to start crunching numbers!

Before doing this, I have to confess I used to eat-out a lot. Coffees, pastries, doughnuts, lunches, dinners, take-out, order-in…you name it, I have done it and spent on it. Until that one month I decided to track how much exactly I was spending on all of this and almost had a heart attack when seeing the number!

I have improved since….but here it goes. Let’s start with breakfast. Sure it is very tempting to sleep-in an extra 15 minutes then get a coffee with a pastry at one of the many coffee shops around. Depending on where you are going, it will cost you around \$3 to \$5 each time. Let’s assume you buy 5 mornings a week at an average of \$4, that’s \$20 a week, or \$80 a month or \$1 040 if it is a year-round habit.

Who brings lunch to work? I think not! Depending on what you are eating and where, you will most likely spend around \$10 to \$12. Assuming you buy lunch 5 times a week at an average of \$11, that’s \$55 a week, \$220 a month or \$2 860 a year.

Let’s finish with dinner. Prices can greatly vary depending on what you eat, where, and whether you drink booze or not. The cost is around \$25 to \$35 per person.  Let’s assume you dine-out 3 times a week at an average of \$30, that’s \$90 a week, \$360 a month or \$4 680 a year.

If you were to do this, or are actually doing it, you are spending \$ 8 580 a year on “just food”! And that does not include the occasional pizza delivery or the afternoon snack.

Staggering, isn’t it? Imagine what you could do with all this money. Maybe you could finally pay-off that 25% interest credit card. Maybe you could have a solid emergency fund. Maybe you could contribute more to your RRSP. Maybe you could afford that trip to Hawaii.

I don’t suggest you stop eating-out altogether, as this is unrealistic. However, I suggest that you start making your own breakfast and your own coffee. Buying an Americano at a coffee shop is really money down the drain.  Buy your lunch once or twice a week. Dine-out once a week or better, every other week.

But most importantly, track down your spending on these. You probably won’t believe the number until you actually see it.

80% of my meals are now home-cooked. My monthly cash flow is more balanced and I can still indulge in restaurants and lattes from time to time.