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Apr 23, 2007 10:25 PM

Dining "In" or dining "Out": where do you spend?

We eat simply, for the most part. When we want something on the high-end, we cook it ourselves. When we want to have something not-cooked-by-us, we usually opt for soups and sandwiches on the road. I have many friends who do the opposite: noodle casseroles for two weeks and then a very expensive steak dinner out, with high-concept desserts.

What do you CHs do?

If I want scallops for the three of us, I will buy 9 scallops and do a Provençal preparation with some salad. To get Coquilles St. Jacques a la Provençal for three in a restaurant would cost me waaaay more than my weekly food budget. If I want a submarine sandwich, I would have to buy all the bread, meat, cheese, veggies, etc., to make it at home, and truly spend more than I would for three 6-inchers from Subway for our impromptu picnic by the river. Yeah - maybe they’d be better ( or a LOT better) if I’d make them at home, but I’d be dealing with the sandwich makings for a couple of days, and everyone would get sick-to-death of subs. I know it costs less to eat in versus eating out, but it’s spring, and we’ve got to weigh our treats accordingly!

What do you do, Chowhounds? High-end *in* and low-end *out*, or the opposite. I’m curious. My budget doesn’t allow for high-end *out*, but I still like the occasional*out* meal, even if it’s sandwiches on a riverbank.

I’m curious as to where we spend our money - “in” or “out?”

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  1. Both. Most of the food money goes on ingredients to cook at home, where I make dishes that would span the range of restaurant menu prices. When we do go out, which is maybe once a week or two, the price range depends on the occasion, or on the type of food we want, or on what's available. But I tend to avoid eating out things I could easily make at home. That keeps me out of a lot of Italian restaurants.

    1. We spend a lot on both. We eat out 4 nights a week on average at about $100-$125 per meal. And then we spend probably $75-$100/week just on food. My husband buys too much when he shops and I have a thing for cheeses and pricier meats, seafood and convenience items (like the Fage 2% individual servings with honey or fruit on the side). We also spend a lot on wine...both at home and out.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Janet from Richmond

        WOW! You must have a lot of good restaurants in Richmond. Not only would $400-$500 in dinners each week break me, there aren't enough good restaurants in Greenville to go out at that price level 4 times a month, let alone, 4 times a week.

        OTOH, my grocery bill is worse than yours....I have to cook dinner + I also have a "thing" for Fage and overpriced cheese.

      2. both. That said, when eating out, we eat v.ery high occasionally and very low end quite often

        Steak, scallops etc that we both like and can do well, we do in. Things we are super fussy about we do in like cheese, chacuterie, a lot of wines, fruits.

        Shrimps, certain fish preparations that only one of us likes, we tend to eat out.

        Things that are high effort and available cheaply around us we eat out often -- though our taste is peasant when it comes to decor etc. It's not worth the effort to make injera, shiro wat and goman wat at home when we can eat it out for under $35. Similiarly sushi . . . I'd spend a fortune on the best rice experiments etc when in 3 minutes or less we can be at any number of good places and eat for decent prices. Some thai dishes fall into that 'too much trouble to make at home and low cost out' category. As do wings. Some chinese food preps really need a high heat stove and we don't have one in our rental right now.

        because of what we like when we eat in and the low cost of good food around us to eat out, eating in is often about the same cost as eating out.

        2 Replies
        1. re: orangewasabi

          I'm with orangewasabi. I eat out at least 4-5x a week but I typically dine at low to moderate priced places serving good food. I find that sometimes when I buy all the ingredients it ends up costing equal or more expensive than eating out and then it may not turn out as tasty. Luckily, in NYC there are plenty of options for affordable dining. What I do cook at home are what I refer to as "village" food aka homestyle, family recipes, simple "peasant" food that I can't find in restaurants. I try to keep my food budget however, (breakfast lunch & dinner, in or out) to $100 a week.

          1. re: moymoy

            The purchasing ingredients to cook in thing is dicey in terms of economy. If you're shopping for one meal, I think its easy to spend something approaching what you might spend at a midlevel place. To make home cooking more economical, you've got to take a long view and stock the pantry, etc and look for deals.

        2. At home its 100% me cooking 97% of the time using good ingredients and with 98% no processed foods--largely because they're unavailable here. The reason for eating in is that I have to eat out more than I want when I'm on work trips, which is a lot (although far less than before our daughter was born). We would eat out more if there were restaraunts that could do something better than I could easily do at home.

          1. low end in, high end out, sort of. We do dinner in 6 days a week, eating mostly simple, low-cost dishes. One night we go out to a moderate-priced dinner where I get my scallops fix.