The Cost of Eating Out vs Cooking at Home

The Cost of Eating out vs Cooking at Home

The Cost of a Lifetime of Takeout

With the dawn of Door Dash and Uber Eats, Americans are eating out more than ever. The ease of opening an app, clicking your favorite restaurant, and having a meal delivered directly to your door is tempting as you drive home from a long day of work and you just don’t feel like cooking.

Everyone knows that it’s less expensive to cook at home, but the effort it takes to find a recipe, make a list, shop for ingredients, and then cook is reason enough for some people to forego it completely. Is it any wonder that people would rather tap their screen a few times?

Since we’re always hearing that ordering takeout is more expensive than cooking at home, we wanted to know how much this habit of ordering takeout and eating at restaurants actually costs people.

To find out, we analyzed government consumer data for the cities across the US. We collected the average number of meals Americans eat out each week for each city, how much money is spent on eating out annually, and grocery costs.

Based on this data, we calculated the amount that people spend annually, over 10 years, and over a lifetime, estimating 60 years worth of takeout and restaurant outings. These are the cities that are spending the most on takeout and which cities are spending the least.


The Cost of Takeout in Each City


The cost of takeout in each city chart

Seattle took home the gold as the most expensive city for takeout. At a lifetime cost of nearly $8,000 more than the second place city, Seattle residents have to foot a hefty bill for the convenience of delivery.

An interesting point to note is that Seattle only averages $11 more than Pittsburgh monthly for takeout, but over a lifetime, that extra $11 really adds up.

On the other end of the spectrum, the city with the most affordable takeout habits is Detroit. At only $142 monthly for takeout, this is the city where your takeout habits will put the least amount of strain on your wallet.


Top Ten Cities Spending the Highest % of Income on Takeout


Cities spending the highest percent income on takeout map


In an interesting twist, Cleveland, Ohio spent the highest percentage of their income on takeout annually. Among the cities spending the highest percentage of their income on takeout were Miami, Rochester, and Detroit, all of which spent over 6% of their annual income on food outside the home.


Top Ten Cities Spending the Most on Takeout Annually


Top ten cities spending the most on takeout map


Seattle walked away with the crown for the most expensive city for takeout. Meanwhile, California was home to not one, not two, but four of the ten most expensive cities for takeout!


Top Ten Cities Spending the Least on Takeout Annually


Detroit, Memphis, and Richmond were the most spendthrift cities when it came to takeout, spending the lowest annual dollar amount.


Annual Potential Savings from Cooking at Home


Cooking at home savings map

Of course, we know we have to provide evidence of how much you could save cooking at home, so that’s what we did! Based on the amount people spend on groceries in each city, the number of meals they order in, and by extension the number of meals they must prepare themselves, we calculated the cost of a meal prepared at home.

Using this number, we calculated how much people can save annually by cooking at home rather than ordering in the average number of meals.

Seattle offered the most savings for cooking at home rather than ordering out. Just behind Seattle is Pittsburgh followed by San Francisco and Miami. San Jose and Virginia Beach were also top cities for savings by cooking at home.

Take-out is a great option for those days when you’re working late or in a pinch, but the cost of those lazy nights adds up quickly, and generally, the options you’re reaching for are less healthy!

If you’re looking to fulfill a New Year’s Resolution to spend less and eat better, cooking at home is a great first step, and if you want to go a step further, you can learn how your body processes foods and exercise so you can customize your food prep for a diet that works with your body.

Don’t let those late night pizza cravings derail you from meeting your New Year’s resolutions!

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Matt Nia
Matt Nia
3 years ago

Great article, I did not know how much we spent in takeout, it is crazy.

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