Wellness & Education

The Downside of Eating Out

Despite the high price of eating out, only half of Americans regularly cook meals at home. Whether they don’t know how to cook, they’re too busy, or they just don’t want to cook, people often overlook the downside of eating out.

Eating out means giving up control over our food.

  • You don’t get to choose the ingredients, so you don’t know how fresh they are or where they came from. You don’t know for sure that they have been safely stored.
  • You don’t always know what is in each dish.
  • You don’t know how sanitary the kitchen is.
  • You may accidentally eat something you are allergic to.
  • Other than adding salt and pepper, you don’t get to season a dish to your taste.
  • You can’t control the portion size, so you may get a huge portion that you don’t need but can’t resist eating.

Eating out is expensive. 

When you eat out, it’s easy to overlook all of the costs that go with the price of the food.  Ben Atkinson, dietitian at Harborview Medical Center says, “When we eat at a restaurant, we pay for not only the food, but also the costs of running the business. The lights, the water, the building and the staff- in addition to the meal we are eating. The same goes for the pre-made or frozen meals at the grocery store.” 6 Benefits of Homemade Meals + 7 Recipes | The Whole U (uw.edu)

In addition to food costs, of course, we also have the cost of driving to and from the restaurant.

Eating out takes time.

If you don’t know how to cook at all, eating out may very well be faster than cooking at home.  It’s always easier and usually faster to pay someone else to do something you don’t know how to do. This is why people pay car mechanics and heating and air conditioning repair people. However, once you learn how to cook a few quick and simple meals, cooking at home may be as fast or faster than eating out. And this doesn’t include your drive time.

Eating out is less healthy. 

Food that is commercially prepared is rarely as fresh as the food we prepare at home. This is because restaurants have to prepare food quickly in order to keep the customer happy. To save time, much of this food is at least partially pre-prepared. In order to pre-prepare food and preserve it, many restaurants purchase food that contains chemical additives and preservatives. This is equally true of many pre-prepared foods that are sold in grocery stores.

While chemical food additives and preservatives have been approved by the FDA, foods that contain them are not as healthy as fresh foods that don’t need them. Preserved foods do not have either the flavor or the nutrition of fresh foods.

Just try it. 

If you belong to the 50% of Americans whose default dinner is a restaurant meal, you may want to try a bit of cooking at home. Even if you just cook one dinner a week, you’ll get be able to taste of the benefits of home cooking. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a faster, cheaper, healthier and more delicious way of eating.