It’s an American staple as old as the NFL, it influences nearly all of us and it is damn tasty too. What am I talking about? Why it’s everyone’s favorite greasy, artery clogging meals, fast food. Now not all fast food is bad for you, in fact many places have nice, healthy options for the gluten and fat intolerant. But this isn’t a health blog, but rather a financial health blog and going out to eat is the financial equivalent of the Quadruple Bypass Burger.
The average burger, fries and coke fast food meal costs anywhere from $5 to $7 and believe it or not people end up at these establishments multiple times a day. However for this comparison lets say you go there once a day, after you get done taking a barrage of insults from your boss that you hate. In total terms the average person is spending anywhere from $1,825 to $2,555 a year . Also not to mention that this is just for one meal, this figure doesn’t account for the other two meals that this person will eat in a day. If this person was exception in fast food consumption they could easily spend upwards of $5,475 to $7,665 a year on food, for one person.
Instead I propose buying your food at the grocery store. Now before I start breaking down numbers keep in mind that in order to save money here, you cannot be going Whole Foods and Trader Joes. Instead shop at nice, but decent quality grocers and make a list before you go shopping. This will ensure that you are not going to spend frivolously on impulse buys, like those 20 pieces of cake you just had to have.
Anyways for me personally the average trip to the grocery store will run me around $55 a trip and these trips are usually enough to get me through the week. Do this 52 weeks through the year and you’ll up with $2,860 in total yearly food costs. More than the one meal a day cost of the fast food but much less than the lower estimate of $5,475 that would be spent if you went out to eat fast food 3x a day for a year. Also keep in mind that fast food is much cheaper than going out to a proper restaurant. The average restaurant meal costs around $12 (entree with a side), and if you did that 3 times a day that would run up to an astronomical $13,140 in food costs a year.
In conclusion, it should be common sense that having someone make and prepare your food will cost more then if you just prepared it yourself. It should also be common sense that if you’re trying to be frugal to not eat out. Also fast food is mighty tasty and if you still want to eat it once and a while that is totally O.K just make sure to get most of your calories from the grocery store, not the fast food joint across the street.