Every day we are faced with the same simple question: ‘What will I eat today?’ From locally made meals to continental dishes, the possibilities are almost endless. We also ponder on whether to cook at home or to go to a restaurant. In the end, this decision boils down to three major things: money, time and convenience.

Both home cooked meals and take outs can be a bit pricey, and when you are living on a budget, it is important to know how much a meal will cost as well as how it can affect your monthly savings. Let’s put it in perspective:
If we are to compare the standard restaurant price of “Jollof Rice” to a single serving of home cooked “Jollof Rice”, you will find out that it may be cheaper to eat out. This is because you have to factor in the prices of ingredients needed to prepare one meal plus the time and effort put into the cooking which can be quite a difficult task especially if you are a young business professional. However, if ingredients are bought in wholesale with meals prepared over the weekend and refrigerated, cooking at home becomes a cheaper option.

A quick analysis of the cost of eating lunch per month at a standard restaurant for business professionals earning up to N150,000 monthly in Lagos can be as high as N22, 000 (i.e N1, 000/day using 22 working days in a month). Considering that this is just the cost of lunch, you can only imagine what the feeding budget will be in a month. On the other hand, if you budget up to N40,000/month for groceries, and you spend some time cooking at home, you can comfortably eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. As long as each cooked meal is to be eaten over a period of time, cooking meals at home may be a smart way to save.

Some are of the opinion that single people do not need to cook since they may not have anyone to share the food with while some do not like eating food that isn’t fresh. When deciding on which option to go for, you will need to consider your marital status as well as how comfortable you are with eating refrigerated food.

There are valid points on both sides; eating out may be more convenient while cooking meals at home may be generally cheaper and healthier. The next time you are trying to decide between going out for lunch and cooking at home, take a minute or two to think about your wallet and your food budget to ensure that your finances doesn’t suffer.

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