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Why I Prefer to Cook Instead of Eating Out – And It’s Not Just About Money

May 26, 2010 · 102 comments

in Health & Fitness, Home & Garden, Personal Finance

When I was a kid, going out to dinner was a rare treat.  As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember going to a fast food restaurant called Burger Chef, where they served the burgers in these little plastic bags, and I loved those burgers.  If I had to eat one of those hamburgers as an adult, I would probably choke.  However, it was a novelty, so that made it that much better.

Today, my kids know every fast food restaurant there is, all too well.  I try my best to pack dinner in a cooler to take along when I know we will be out at dinner time for a sporting event.   However, sometimes I am not home ahead of time to do the preparing and packing of the food.  So, restaurant food is not a novelty for my kids unfortunately.  They also would probably turn their noses up at a semi-wet hamburger served in a plastic bag.

This leads me to my point for the day of why I so much prefer to eat at home.  Besides the fact that I am so sick of eating out (Spring is our busiest time of year), there are so many benefits to eating at home, such as:

  1. The menu is healthy- the kids are not subjected to choices like overly breaded chicken or a hot dog.
  2. I have a great time cooking with the family, and the kids are learning some valuable skills that they can use their whole life.
  3. I know what I am eating.  There are no worries that my vegetables are laden in butter and salt.  I know that I washed all the vegetables well (including the lemon in my water).  I also know that my hands are clean when I prepare the food.
  4. There is no frustration with bad service.   If someone runs out of water, they can get another glass themselves.
  5. I don’t eat 3 loaves of bread while waiting for my meal like I will at some restaurants because I am starving.
  6. The quality of the meal is generally pretty reliable, unless I am trying a new recipe!
  7. There is plenty of room for our family of 5.  It is great to just sit around the table and chat in a nice quiet, comfortable environment.  And, there is no rush to give up your table because you know other people are waiting.
  8. Eating at home is way cheaper.

On the flip-side, there is definitely still something nice about occasionally going out to dinner.  Not having to run to the store for last-minute ingredients or having to clean up a big mess is obviously nice.  However, I am excited for when life settles down a bit and eating out is a novelty again, that can be appreciated and enjoyed.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Teresa Fiore May 26, 2010 at 9:46 am

I loved your article. You mentioned butter and that’s something I control much but I have high blood pressure and controlling my salt is good. All your points is good. MY girls don’t like eating out because they can control their calories and like you said it is much healthier. I am one to visit fast food ($1.00 menus makes it hard to resist) but my girls have been after me to stop and eat healthier. It is slow breaking old habits but I am doing it s-l-o-w-l-y but I’m gonna do it. Your article helped…thanks.


Kris May 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Teresa – Thank you for the kind words! I admit when I am out and about, sometimes some salty fries sound just perfect and it can be hard to resist. But, usually if I ignore it for 20 minutes or so, the craving passes. Its too bad fast food is everywhere because it is just too easy to give in some time.

Keep trying- you can do it!


Young Mogul May 26, 2010 at 10:31 am

I think everything loses a bit of it’s luster when it becomes an everyday thing. I was a kid who was never taken anywhere (just the type of family I come from). So, when I got old enough to go out to eat with friends, I LOVED, LOVED it. Now, it is so regular that it is just ‘blah’. But, I understand the time constraints of the carpooling parent of kids with activities.


Kris May 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Young Mogul- Isn’t that the truth, no matter how good something is, it becomes ordinary when it becomes part of your routine!


Budgeting in the Fun Stuff May 26, 2010 at 11:48 am

My mom and I were broke until I was 8 and then we became a dual-income household with my stepdad. We went from hot dogs and tuna casseroles to restaurants and steak at home. I moved out at 19 and restaurants became unaffordable again. Then I got married at 22 and we became a dual-income household and – surprise, surprise – restaurants were a huge part of life. Then we decided to cut costs this year (I’m 27). Now we’re eating 70% at home and 30% out instead of the other way around. Funny cycle.

Restaurants have their place, but I do think that food at home can be even better most of the time although I know my veggies at home are laden with butter and salt, lol, since we put it there…I actually smiled when I read that healthy part in your post. My husband and I are just big kids with a house sometimes…


Kris May 26, 2010 at 12:05 pm

BFS- Well at least if you cook at home, you have the CHOICE of buttering and salting your veggies! 🙂 Take those biscuits they serve at Red Lobster… who doesn’t just love them? However, I am sure if I looked at the ingredient list, my heart would just clog up and roll over right then and there. I guess ignorance is bliss!


Money Reasons May 26, 2010 at 12:28 pm

You are at a point with this topic that I would like to be at. We eat Papa John’s pizzas way too much, not to mention a slew of fast food restaurants! In fact the workers at Papa Johns know me by name. I feel like the Norm character from the TV show “Cheers”…

This summer, I plan on eating out on the grill more and more! Last year I started, and this year I hope to double the amount that I use it!


Kris May 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Money Reasons – but don’t you just love that butter they give you to eat your crust with at Papa Johns? (At least they do here in Michigan.)

For me, planning is key. Keep in mind, I don’t work outside the home and my kids are not underfoot every hour of the day, so I have more time than you probably do. But even when I have the perfect plan in place, some days I am just lazy and don’t feel like dealing with it. A 5 dollar hot and ready from Little Caesars sometimes makes more sense than me cooking and cleaning up.

I do love barbecues. Its so nice to eat outside. Make it your goal and I am sure you will do it.

Thanks for commenting!


Money Reasons May 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Mmmmm, I love Little Caesars crazy bread! I never liked the way it smelled, but it tasted like heaven… 🙂

As for barbecuing, I have to get past hamburger meat this year… My son discovered that he like cheeseburgers last year, so that was the big hit. This year I want to do chicken and steak!

Thanks for the reminder, I’ll have to clean the grill soon!


Kris May 27, 2010 at 10:31 am

Money Reasons – its Memorial Day Weekend, you must clean that grill. I will be in Ohio this weekend playing soccer, so no grill for me. Have a burger for me, ok? I will have some crazy bread for you. 🙂


Squirrelers May 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Healthier and Cheaper = better choice. Eating at home is better, clearly.

Now, with my work I have to pack food from home, or occassionally eat out. It’s just a part of the deal. That’s ok, and sometimes it comes with the territory – you have to have lunch with people in business.

But as a rule of thumb, eating at home or home-prepared food should be the norm, not the exception, for health and wealth! I think a lot of folks do the opposite, and I have done that too in younger days, but it’s best to eat at/from home.

Plus, as you allude to, showing kids how to cook is rewarding. I think it shows them some life skills, imprints in their minds that eating home-cooked food is the norm, and it’s good bonding time.


Kris May 27, 2010 at 10:28 am

Squirreler – I used to love packing my lunch for work sometimes if I had stir fry leftovers from the night before, or some spaghetti. But on days I didn’t have something delicious, I ran to the local restaurant with friends. It is also nice just to get out sometimes too. However, if you feel the need to escape the workplace, it is also a great time to go for a walk too.


Divine and Debt Free May 27, 2010 at 7:07 am


thats all I have to say about that lol


Kris May 27, 2010 at 10:32 am

Divine – I loveeeeeeeeeee not cleaning up too! But I do start to OD on that restaurant food. You are probably better than me and eating out is more of a rarity for you than I.


The Wealth Artisan May 27, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Hi Kris!

I absolutely understand what you mean. Options 3,4, and 6 are probably the most important to my wife and I. For a while we lived with her parents to save money for our home down payment. In order for us to go out and enjoy alone time we had to go to restaurants. What we realized is that the novelty of restaurants wore down very quickly. The food never seemed to be good, it always seemed manufactured and heartless, and our favorite fast food restaurants quickly became places that we loathed.

I suppose part of the reason we noticed it was because we were there so often. When you go on occasion, you might overlook a missing item, or a mis-cooked item, but when you go consistently, and they consistently make the same mistakes, you start to build a resentment. All I can say is that after living off of restaurants for a good amount of time, we will never miss them again!

Great write up!

Wealth Artisan Team Member


Kris May 27, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Hi Timothy! Thanks for commenting! There is nothing worse than expecting a great meal and getting something tasteless, or have terrible service.

I look forward to the day when I do miss a restaurant again. I take that back. I do miss Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse because we rarely go out for expensive meals like that.


Jeffery Crull November 13, 2010 at 9:37 am

Thank you , I’ll have to subscribe your feed and read the rest I think. The first date my wife and I had nearly 20 years ago now was a lovely seafood restaurant in Napoli, so I’ve been spending ages trying to rediscover a decent grilled lobster recipes like we had that night – our anniversary is next month so I’m hoping to surprise her!


fitness girl January 31, 2011 at 2:43 am

Cooking at home can increase family bonding and know more each others attitude,show how to help like preparing the ingredients to cook.That kind of moment you will see how you treasure each others companion.


Kris January 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm

FG- I couldn’t agree more! I love cooking with the family!


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