Cooking at home: beat the rising cost of eating out

Eating out is more expensive than ever, with a 4.2% increase in the consumer price index for food away from home. Food costs across the board continue to rise, even as inflation slows. However, Vericast’s 2024 Restaurant TrendWatch reports restaurant prices climb much higher and faster than groceries — an average of 5.1% annually versus 1.2%.

In addition to the financial benefits, variety, healthier options, lower prices, and the comfort and convenience of home make eating in more appealing. Dining rooms may become the new popular spot to have dinner on the weekends.

Let’s Stay in for Dinner

68% of Americans now forego restaurant meals to save money, instead investing in their local supermarket.

Generally, Gen X, earns a higher salary than their younger counterparts. A median household income of $101,500 last year. Meanwhile, Statista’s 2023 data shows adults aged 25-34 earned an average of $80,240 a year. That might be why 71% of Gen Z and millennials transitioned to the grocery store, rather than dining in a restaurant or even ordering from UberEats or Grubhub as inflation rose.

“The steadily increasing cost of dining out is testing the limits of what consumers can and will spend. There’s a noticeable decrease in consumers dining out, especially with consumers that have a household income under $75,000,” explains Dana Baggett, executive director of the Restaurant Division at Vericast.

And there is no shortage of options to explore for creating restaurant-worthy dishes at home.

Better Deals and Cheaper Meals

For the few diners still eating out, getting them to leave the home takes more incentive.

“Many diners are choosing to dine out less, trade down to less expensive restaurants, order less, or opt to eat out for more affordable mealtimes like breakfast or snacks. As consumers are intentionally spending less at restaurants, acquiring new guests should be a key area of focus for restaurant brands,” Baggett continues. “With the intensifying competition for share of stomach, I anticipate acquisition strategies such as offering deals and coupons to increase, as this is the fastest way to drive incremental sales and traffic.”

Deals drive more foot traffic than ever before. So called tipflation also impacts diners’ motivations to eat out. Guilt is a motivator for at least one quarter of the 2000 people Talker Research surveyed. The pressure or awkwardness of the options presented left many spending an average of more than $450 in gratuities every year. At home, no tips are needed.

For those who still want at least an occasional night out, special deals, online and app offers and old fashioned coupons received in the U.S. mail are a significant driver of where and when they’re going. 30% say they won’t try a restaurant without a coupon or discount offer.

Creating Takeout-Inspired Meals at Home

Social media posts are the new cookbooks for today’s generation. Inspired by recipes and videos they see on social media, 39% of consumers opt to cook more home-cooked meals and even experiment with new dishes and cooking methods.

It helps when websites feature built-in shopping lists to make meal prep easier than ever. Some even create online communities, allowing novice cooks to learn from seasoned home cooks. Swapping recipes and hacks allows aspiring chefs to improve their skills for the tastiest meals at home.

On a side note, the newest generation of smart refrigerators can also provide meal tips and recipes, based on what you have on hand.

Finding deals on ingredients allows for budget-friendly meals. Taking the time to prep for weekly meals makes fulfilling nutritional goals easier. Easy copycat recipes from popular restaurants can be an entry point for inexperienced home chefs.

Or you can keep it even simpler, with prepared frozen foods easy to thaw, reheat or pop in the microwave. 55% of respondents saved money just by a switch to frozen pizza from the grocery store versus pizza from a restaurant. Instead of fast food tacos, invest in some better-quality meat and make even more at home. With practice, even the most complicated meals feel doable.

Making takeout food at home is a cost-effective, healthy, and convenient alternative to dining out. By embracing the cooking trend at home, people can enjoy delicious meals, save money, and take control of their dining experience. Next time the temptation to order out arises, consider trying to make those favored dishes at home instead.

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This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


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