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The husband cooks at the stove and the wife looks on, both smiling.

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The cost of dining in and ordering out can really add up.

Main points:

  • Some people don’t have the time or desire to cook.
  • Not cooking can cost you so much money that it gets in the way of your other financial goals.
  • Simple recipes and meal kits can help you get started with cooking, as well as getting family members into the kitchen with you.

I really enjoy cooking. And I’m actually pretty decent at it. The reason I don’t do it more often has to do with time, or the lack of it.

Not only do I have kids and a household, but I also work full-time, and often part-time, which means more than 40 hours a week. Between that and some of the volunteer work I do, there are weeks when I just don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen cooking. And those are the weeks when I go shopping again, despite the higher credit card tab it leads to.

But my boyfriend almost never cooks. And the reason has nothing to do with lack of time. Rather, it is a lack of desire.

Dining out can be a big expense

My girlfriend claims she’s a terrible cook. I didn’t know because I’ve never sampled anything that comes out of her kitchen. But it’s not just that he doesn’t like to cook. She also feels that since it’s just her and her husband, it’s more cost-effective to eat out and order in than cook.

Last year I challenged that line of thinking and asked her to count her spending on restaurants and food. We then compared that cost to the cost of supplementing her grocery expenses by $200 per week (bearing in mind that she and her husband usually eat breakfast and lunch at home and cook themselves). Overall, we found that even if cooking cost her an extra $200 in groceries, she would save about $5,000 a year compared to the cost of dining out and ordering food in, as she often does.

It was eye opening to say the least. And one of my friend’s New Year’s resolutions this year is to try to get a little better at cooking.

If you tend to avoid cooking because you don’t like it or don’t know how to do it, the reality is that it can save you a lot of money. So here are some options to consider.

1. Sign up for the food collection service

Meal kits are often more expensive than buying groceries at the supermarket. But they can be a source of savings compared to dining out and ordering in. And they make the cooking process easy because you get all the ingredients you need at your doorstep in easy-to-use recipes.

2. Stick to very simple recipes

You don’t have to go from not cooking at all to preparing complex three-course meals in your kitchen. Instead, keep things simple. Stick to basic recipes like chicken and rice or pasta and vegetables until you get more comfortable experimenting with different ingredients and techniques.

3. Make it a family affair

There is no rule that says you have to suffer alone in the kitchen while cooking. If cooking isn’t really your thing, enlist the help of your family members to help you get better at it. Prepare meals together with your spouse, and if your children are old enough, ask them to help.

Never cooking at all can really cost a lot of money. Although I don’t see my girlfriend becoming a regular cook, I think she’ll try to do better at it this year. And if you’re tired of spending big bucks on restaurants and takeout, it’s worth doing what you can to cook.

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