Answering Life’s Greatest Question: Eat In, or Dine Out?

To eat out or to stay in, that is the ever-pressing question. From cost efficiency to product freshness, it seemed the only way to go to maintain a healthy diet, and checkbook, was to eat in. However, tides are turning. When it comes to freshness, restaurants are now raising the bar of what it means to dine out.

Instead of greasy food prepared in a kitchen to match, dining establishments have turned a downhill spiral of high caloric and fatty foods towards that of the health, and experience, minded.

The Experience

\ Burger date night // #junestilllate

A photo posted by June's All-Day (@junesallday) on

So why eat out over dining in, and how can you possibly save any money when doing so? There are ways, believe it or not, and we’re going to break it down for you step by step. One main shift in the dining world over the last few years has been to take the extravagance and elaborateness of the food and shift it towards the experience.

This isn’t to say that the food has taken a backseat or simply isn’t as important, taste and content wise. It just means that rather than selling consumers on a specific, elaborate dish, they’ve began shifting the idea to the experience. Instead of spending money on the food, it’s more about who you’re with and how it can and will be remembered.

Whereas before, people were going out to eat as a form of decadence in itself, to treat themselves to another workweek in the books with an expensive meal that didn’t come with the waiting and dining bells and whistles of exceptional service and environments that are more common today.

The Quality

There’s no denying the shift in ingredient freshness and quality throughout the food industry over the last several years. This is likely due to the public’s new opinion and views on healthy living, which oftentimes starts with food.

It was once thought that to eat a well-balanced meal without loads of sodium and preservatives, you had to cook it yourself in your own home. Now, there are restaurants and stores that are sculpted particularly around the health-conscious society that’s growing today.

Our red enchilada sauce has a tasty, smoky kick thanks to chipotle peppers in adobo. ?

A photo posted by Blue Apron (@blueapron) on

Places such as True Food Kitchen and My Fit Foods have sparked a revolution on the eating world. No preservatives, no artificial ingredients; just real food. With this in mind, there’s no harm by wanting to be even more frugal with your eating, thus dining in.

This way, you know exactly what’s in your food, what amounts of seasoning, and more importantly salt (and hopefully the lack of sugar!), you’re putting into your food, and can ration out proportions precisely, rather than having them handed to you in whatever format the restaurant or shop desires.

The Price

Mango salad all dressed up for a photo shoot. Crowd pleaser! #ESCeats #mango ?@henry_hargreaves_photo

A photo posted by Elizabeth Street Café (@elizabethstreetcafe) on

Eating out has always had a bad rep for taking more money from your pockets than it’s seemingly worth. But with the shift in experience comes the shift in prices, both in stores and at restaurants. If you’ve noticed prices dropping at restaurants and slightly rising at stores, your mind isn’t playing tricks on you. With dining out becoming more and more cost effective, more and more consumers are partaking.

Even restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory have started shelling out dishes with lower calorie counts and price tags to match, forcing other restaurants to switch things up, too.

If you’re not sure whether you spend more dining out than eating in over a week, think about how much you spend on a weekly basis at the grocery store on things you never make and end up throwing away. If that money was spent on food you actually ate, it wouldn’t be going to nothing and dwindling your checking account away.

On the opposite side, if you’re a generally conservative eater and grocery buyer, making it through the week with under 50 dollars of groceries and are content with that, then creating your own concoctions in the kitchen may be your best bet, from a financial standpoint.

Ultimately, whether you decide to dine out or eat in, it’s all about keeping it well-rounded and sharing the food love with the ones you love.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Meal Prepping + 3 Easy Recipes