Section I: The issue at hand
Is Eating Out Cheaper Than Cooking? from MSN Money
The conclusion they come to is that most times, yes, eating out is cheaper than cooking. They cite that the cost of purchasing food at the supermarket are rising “6% a year, about 2.5 times as fast as the cost of restaurant meals.” This, and a few comparisons such as the following, serve as the main support for their claim:
Meal: seafood alfredo (unlimited salad and breadsticks).
Total price: $15.50
Grocery store: fresh shrimp, $5.33; scallops, $3.99; pasta, $1.99; bag salad, $3.99; breadsticks, $3.99
Winner: Olive Garden
Grocery-store items were calculated using prices at FreshDirect. Seafood estimates based on one-third pound of shrimp and one-third pound of scallops”
They admit that their method was “highly unscientific” mainly because they didn’t try to find sale items, the prices of groceries vary across the country and they did not consider the nutrition or environmental friendliness of each meal.
Section II: Minor versus major misleading factors
Luckily, the commenters (both on the article and on Reddit) seem to see glaring faults with the article. What STILL gets me though, is that most people seem to be missing the BIG hunker, here. Many people are noting that they didn’t include tip, tax, gas money, drinks and the varying costs of food by region. A minority mention what’s really throwing us off here:
You do not eat one box of pasta, an entire baguette (more common than breadsticks at the store) and an entire bag of salad in one sitting.
It’s like saying a $2 bag of one pair of socks is cheaper than a $5 bag of three pairs of socks. It is cheaper right now, but you’re still gonna “eat” the other two pairs of socks, just not right this second.
Divide the pasta, baguette and (arguably) salad by FOUR. You go from $9.49 for all that to $2.49 (spread out over four people or four sittings for one person). That lowers your total at-home to $11.81 compared to Olive Garden’s $15.50 (yes, plus tip).
New Jersey’s tax versus North Dakota’s tax and other such factors will not alter the cost of your meal by SEVEN DOLLARS, you guys. I guess people are just pointing that out for the sake of being complete, but the portion thing is really the thing I feel we should be rallying behind here.
Even if you are a single person living alone, you can’t really tell us that 3/4 of a box of pasta would just eventually be thrown away, considering that you apparently like pasta since you bought it in the first place. Buying a normal box of pasta is buying in bulk for a family of one. You’ve won.
Section III: Inadvertent harm and hopelessness causing to average shoppers
While this portion thing is wildly clear to the recipe-obsessed, who already have seven pasta sauce recipes bookmarked, it may not be clear to the average eater who does go to the store buying the ingredients for the first meal they’ve made in ages, chicken parm for two, and is shocked and angered when it comes out to… I don’t know how much… way more than they expected.
And they will say “I thought cooking was supposed to be cheaper,” and now they’ll read this article and say “I was right. Now I know for sure” and be mad they’ve been told lies for so long by advanced home chefs who think that two hours prep isn’t that long at all!
And they’ll have enough jarred pasta sauce, pasta and shredded mozzarella cheese to make however many more meals, but they’ll just have the frustration in their mind, it’ll go bad, and they’ll still have been ripped off as far as they’re concerned.
And the time you spend cooking? Well, that is just for you to decide. It’s time or money, you can’t really win out on both. Same as hiring someone to paint your living room instead of doing it yourself or buying clothes at the store instead of making them. One is cheaper, the other is faster.
Section IV: Conclusion and photographic evidence
So to me, the main inflation we see in this article that wanted to jump on the whole economy thing and dispel some “common knowledge,” is that you’d count the cost of an entire box of pasta on one side, but only the cost of the pasta on your plate at the Olive Garden. Which other people had pointed out but not as many as I would have hoped! So I felt I should really REALLY point it out and here we are! Chicken parm once a year grocery store shoppers, DON’T BELIEVE THESE LIES AND EVENTUALLY BECOME POOR!!!