Prior to the birth of the Internet, getting takeout food from restaurants or calling for delivery was the normal thing to do if you’re hungry but would not like to prepare home-cooked dishes.
Today, all you have to do is go online or call a restaurant which offers delivery services and you can have your favorite dishes delivered straight to your doorstep – without having to lift a finger. The problem is that if you rely on takeout or delivery food too much, you are not doing your personal budget any favors. Takeout food may be mightily convenient, but you are paying extra for such convenience. If takeout food has become a big part of your everyday life, how can you actually save money on it? That is what we will find more about here.
Quick Statistics About Takeout Food
First, let’s take a look at a few figures. How much do Americans really spend on takeout food, and how often do they order in? Here are a few key statistics from Statista.com:
- For July 2013, 46% of males and females order food once a month or more often for delivery. Meanwhile, 75% of males and 71% of females order takeout food once a month or more often.
- For 2014, here are the reasons why people order from restaurants online, with millennials as the main respondents:
- 83% – It’s easier to order.
- 79% – The order is more accurate.
- 78% – They don’t have to wait, it’s ready.
- 73% – I can easily reorder my favorite or have a customized order.
- 67% – I can prepay online using my credit card.
- For the baby boomers, convenience is the number one reason for their ordering from restaurants online.
- For 2014, those who think that takeout food is essential to their way of life by age group is as follows:
- 18 to 34 years old – 38%
- 35 to 44 years old – 39%
- 45 to 54 years old – 40%
- 55 to 64 years old – 28%
- 65 years and up – 29%
10 Ways to Save Money on Takeout Food
As you can see from the above list, the number one reason why people rely on takeout food is the ease by which they can place their orders and the utmost convenience that they enjoy. If you’re part of the population who orders takeout food once a month or more, how can you save money on it? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Realize that cooking at home is cheaper than takeout food.
The number one way to save money on takeout food is to actually stop paying for takeout food. You need to realize that cooking at home is a lot cheaper than getting takeout, simply because restaurants and fast-food or pizza joints need to pay for overhead expenses on top of the ingredients used to cook whatever dish it is you’re enjoying. Surveys show that if you rely on takeout food for your daily lunch, you can spend up to $3,000 per year. For daily dinners, this amount could double.
When you think about saving this much money on an annual basis, you will definitely put paying for takeout at the back burner. Aside from saving money, you can also eliminate food wastage if you rely on good old home-cooked meals for your daily nourishment.
2. Know how to make the food items that you usually order to go – right in the comfort of your own home.
Whether you prefer Chinese takeout or pizza delivery, there are ways for you to make these comfort, easy food right in the comfort of your own home. Look for recipes which require no more than ten ingredients. The time that it would take for these dishes to cook should be the time that it takes for delivery to arrive. The bonus is that you’ll get to eat healthier meals and you can control portions. You can even have leftovers for lunch the next day.
3. Use a slow cooker.
If you dislike the effort that it takes to prepare home-cooked dishes, invest in a slow cooker. There are plenty of recipes that you can make which simply involve throwing all the ingredients inside the slow cooker and letting the equipment do all the work. You can have pot roast with veggies, pub corned beef, banana spice cake, beef, and beans – the variety of non-takeout recipes that you can enjoy are practically endless!
4. Throw away your takeout menus.
The best way to avoid temptation is to steer clear of it in the first place. If you have an entire menu of your favorite takeout place near the telephone, throw it away or hide it somewhere inaccessible. This way, you won’t be tempted to simply order in when you don’t feel like cooking.
5. Stock up on convenient food items.
Next, stock up on convenient food items that you can include in your recipes to save time – and without having to put in too much work. Some examples are dried foods, canned goods, frozen foods, cold cuts, commercially-prepared dried goods, and out-of-the-box or straight-from-the-store food items.
6. Make Sloppy Joes ahead of time.
Instead of relying on burger joints for your comfort food fix, make them ahead of time. Sloppy Joes, for example, can be made ahead of time. Follow your recipe and leave the mixture simmering in a crockpot. Pour some onto a thermos for an easy, on-the-run meal or simply heat it up from a jar. If you’re in the mood for burgers and fries, you can make the patties ahead of time and simply grill or fry them when needed. For deli sandwiches, make sure that you have a supply of bread, cold cuts and condiments so that you can prepare whatever you need in an instant.
7. Make your own loaded nachos.
The cost per serving of hearty nachos is about $1.50 when you make your own. They’re the perfect party appetizer or snacks while watching a big game. Instead of buying them, making your own will save you a lot of money in the long run, and you can add all your favorite stuff without having to pick them out of the dip or the sauce.
8. Make your own oven-fried chicken.
With a cost per serving of less than $3, oven-fried chicken is actually cheaper homemade. Use fresh breadcrumbs instead of panko, and follow a recipe that is almost similar from what you will enjoy out of the bucket. What’s good about taking this route is that you can choose the leaner cuts of chicken and pay attention to portion control because it’s up to you to decide how much to serve your family.
9. Make your own milkshakes.
If you already keep your pantry well-stocked, anyway, you don’t have to rely on takeout milkshakes. All you have to do is whip up your own using the blender that you have at home. It will cost you less than $1 to enjoy a glass of refreshing milkshake. If you want some variety, look for milkshake recipes with cookies and cream, mint chip, coffee ice cream or chocolate. You can even take the healthier route of blending in berries or other healthy fruits with your milkshake to cool you off during hot summer days, while giving you a cheaper way to quench your thirst, too.
10. Know which food items are cheaper to order in than make at home.
Finally, know which food items are cheaper to order in or get for takeout, than make at home. Let’s take spicy tuna rolls as an example. When you order this item from a delivery place, you need to spend only $7 to $10 for a few pieces. But when you make them at home, they’re actually more expensive – with the price ranging from $15 to $18.
If you’re in the mood for some Greek food, lamb souvlaki will cost only around $12 to order but if you will make them yourself, it will set you back around $15 – and you’re not really sure if it will taste the same. A steak burrito costs only $10 to order, but more to make. Even pizza is cheaper to order in. Making one at home will cost you more than $20 but one order is only about $10 to $12.
If there really is no way for you to completely say no to takeout food, there is no harm in enjoying convenience every once in a while. But when you consider the costs that you are racking up, you will definitely think twice about getting delivery or takeout food on a regular basis. With plenty of home-cooked alternatives out there, you can feed your family on the cheap and a lot more healthily – without having to constantly rely on takeout or delivery menus.