Eating out is a waste of money

There I said it. I Know that the panda express in the dining center looks delicious, and that cooking yourself at home takes time, but there are so many more benefits to eating at home then eating out. When you buy food, your not just paying for the ingredients to make it, your also paying for the time it takes for them to make your food, and then also your paying a profit margin. Take Olive Garden for example.

At the grocery store, you can buy fettuccine noodles for .98 cents, butter for four dollars, heavy cream for 2.78 and parmesan, for 5 bucks. To make your at home Olive Garden noodles. That’s about 13 dollars in ingredients for your dinner, and approximately a half hour of your time. That’s compared to the cost you pay for one serving of Alfredo at Olive Garden. The price for one entrée is 17.99.

Those prices seem about the same, especially when you consider that you can add chicken to that entrée at Olive Garden. However, when you consider the amounts that you’re getting in ingredients, you can have four savings at approximately 4 bucks a serving. At that price, you can even afford chicken, and your own bread sticks from the frozen section. 

So yes, it is significantly cheaper to cook at home. Furthermore, a lot of restaurants get their ingredients cheaper because they can buy in bulk in a way that college students just cant. 

Now there are obviously benefits to eating out I haven’t addressed. You get to support small businesses, you save time by eating out, it can be easier to not have to clean up after yourself etc. However, I dont think that these benefits are as great as they seem.

Many restaurants do have long wait times, in which you can be sitting there starving waiting for your food to come out. Some restaurants are good at getting your food to you quickly, and some are not it’s always a gamble. Often, we pay extra for more food so that we can have something to munch on while we wait for our food to arrive. 

That begs the question, did you really save time? A pick up order on your way home and you have all the groceries you could need. Depending on what your making, it could be ready within half an hour and your dollar will get you so much farther. 

Finally we justify paying so much more for our food because we are “supporting a small business” which is obviously a great thing. There are lots of locally owned restaurants that I enjoy here in Fargo. Juice It, Black Bird Pizza, The Boiler Room, are a few that come to mind immediately.

However, when I am rushing from work to school, my first instinct isn’t to stop at these places. It’s to run by Taco Bell, McDonalds, or some other fast food chain  and eat something that’s overpriced and going to make me feel gross. 

If you have stayed in this town long, I am sure you have noticed that the fast food at Taco Bell isn’t very fast. You can be sitting in line for your soft shell taco for an hour. Furthermore if you stop at McDonalds their prices have also massively increased over the last few years. 

With tuition needing to be paid (which is also not getting any cheaper), rent costs increasing, gas getting more expensive, I have come to realize that I just can not afford to eat out the way that I used too. If your looking to save some money then this might be a good place to start. 

You may find that you wont feel so much pressure to eat out if you plan ahead a little. Packing myself a lunch for in between classes has been a game changer for me. My fridge is always full of leftovers, and if my suspicions are right, there are probably some leftovers in your fridge too that could be eaten up. Don’t even get me started on how many students I know who have a block plan, and then don’t use it! 

If your looking to save money, there are creative ways to do so surrounding your food. I’m not saying don’t eat out. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, our you just want to have fun and get some half-priced apps at the Applebees on 19th. I get it. 

Just not be afraid to try new recipes, and don’t let NDSU profit off you by forgetting to use your meal plan swipes. The dining centers have so much room for creativity in them with the salad bars, panini press, and the griddle. So get in there and start cooking.

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