The True Cost of Dining in Vs Out

The True Cost of Dining in Vs Out

  • Laurie Kane
  • 01/27/20
Today, I want to share my thoughts on dining out and our foolish spending. I don’t know about you, but we find ourselves dining out quite often. Do you ever look at the menu or wine list and say “oh wow, that’s crazy!” But you find yourself indulging in the moment and ordering that ridiculously overpriced glass of wine or chicken dish anyway. Knowing that we have just paid double the price of a bottle for a 6-ounce glass...  And don’t you love it when your server asks “would you like a 6 or 9 ounce?”

A few weeks back while eating out, I ordered a chicken dish over shredded zucchini at a restaurant, which name I will refrain from revealing, and my husband ordered the short ribs, a story for another day. Our bill was $133.10 for a chicken meal and a small short rib over potatoes with a glass of Decoy. After a tip, we dropped $159.72 on one meal without dessert or appetizers! The most baffling part for me is that when we look around, these restaurants are always packed! The next time you go out take notice. You’ll see that consumers order cocktails and wine like it are going out of style! Because we frequent restaurants at least twice a week, I wonder how much money people are really spending eating out. The better question: Can they afford it or is it all on plastic?! I think we all have wondered the same thing at one time or another. But here is what I know for sure. If I don't make ameliorations to my own pecuniary habits, I am going to make these “gouging restaurant owners” wealthier while foolishly making my bank account skinnier or worse…..
Yes, I realize that we are all in business to make money. However, I’m a firm believer that anything can be good in moderation and fairness. You must agree that the markup in the restaurant industry, especially on liquor, is totally outrageous, right? One of my family’s New Year’s resolutions is to be wise about our spending. Please pay close attention to the difference in cost. Furthermore, this unnecessary spending is putting millions of Americans in financial distress. I’ll get to that later on….
Below you’ll find what it really costs to make a stuffed chicken breast with shallots in white wine sauce… This dish took about an hour to finish, and if I say so myself, mine was much better!
  • 2 organic stuffed chicken breast from Fresh Market - $7.18
  • 1 yellow zucchini
  • 1 green zucchini $1.67
  • 1 carrot $0.20
  • 1 shallot $0.89
  • 6 tbsp of butter $0.50
  • 1 cup of white wine $3
  • 1 cup of chicken broth $0.50
  • salt and pepper to taste; and yes, some fresh parsley $1
Melt 3 tbsp of butter in a deep heavy pan over medium heat. Add chicken breasts and brown for 5 minutes on each side (or until golden color) set aside. Melt the rest of the butter on the same pan. Add the finely chopped shallots. Saute until translucent. Add wine, let it simmer for 2 minutes, and add chicken broth salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken, cover the pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350 (or until safe poultry temp). 10 minutes before the chicken is done, steam shredded carrots for 2 minutes. Add shredded zucchini to the same pot and steam for 3-4 minutes. By now your chicken should be done. Serve the desired portion of vegetables on a dish, place 1 cooked chicken breast on top, and pour some of the wine sauce over it. Sprinkle some fresh parsley. BonApeti!
The breakdown for the chicken in wine sauce for two at home: $15 and the bottle of Decoy was $19.99 instead of $27 for a glass, remember? The exact dinner with a glass of wine total cost $25/2 = 12.50 vs $159! It gets better; we had leftovers and if we decided to indulge and drink the entire bottle, we are still ahead of the game. Now, remember, if you add the amount of money you spend eating out each month, you are going to be shocked! We were.
So we are ceasing the restaurant frenzy and are going to enjoy more time at home cooking delicious meals with YouTube or BuzzFeed for a fraction of a dollar. How about you? Let me know your thoughts on this topic….
Now, remember I mentioned that it’s very costly eating out and it is getting Americans, especially young people, in financial trouble? You better believe it! How do I know this? Well, whenever I get a call from someone looking to buy a house; I normally ask, have you been pre-approved for a mortgage? And the answer is always yes. Unfortunately, what I have found is that my “potential clients” have been “pre-qualified” but have not been transparent with their credit card debt or didn’t realize that high credit card debt will sabotage a buyer’s buying power. A lender doesn't know this until they pull your credit; which is when you are actually “pre-approved”. In the last two years, I have lost 15 buyers due to a lack of savings for a downpayment and debt-to-income ratio qualification issues because of their high credit card balances and student loans. Now student loans are a subject for another day….

Here is what Mark Illingsworth (Click here ) a local mortgage finance expert at UsBank had to say about this topic during a recent interview.  “Laurie, you bring up very good points,” he said, “When it comes to spending in general and in particular, dining out and the daily costs related to Starbucks and other “fast food options” as well as meal preparation at home vs. dining out. Far too often when working with buyers in an attempt to get them pre-approved for Mortgage Financing, I commonly see high credit card balances which in the world of credit relates to high utilization percentages. What most common consumers don’t realize is that high utilization rates with respect to credit cards result in a negative impact on credit scores. I find myself coaching consumers on the pros and cons of credit card usage and what impacts it has with respect to a Mortgage approval when attempting to qualify them for financing. Credit scores are quick to react negatively with a significant drop in scores when high utilization rates occur and are sustained over an extended period of time. I often advise clients to use credit cards in an attempt to build their credit but also to be diligent about paying the account off from month to month. This helps to build credit, increase scores, and show mortgage lenders like me that they are much less likely to default not only on credit accounts but mortgage accounts as well when they purchase a home. Preparing yourself to purchase a home is no small task. Sticking to a budget whether dining out or with your daily expenses is a must!” 

My friend Mark mentioned Starbucks. While chatting on the subject above, we touched on the Starbucks unnoticed spending. So I did quick math. Between me and my daughter, we frequented Starbucks last year at least 4 times a week. Our latte is always over $5. Our spending averages $80-100 monthly, just on coffee. YIKES! Well that too came to a fast halt in our household!

In conclusion, make a conscious effort to plan ahead; cooking is easy and fun! Enjoy great meals and watch your savings balance increase instead of theirs….#theAmericanDream.
This coming weekend I am giving the short rib over mashed potatoes dinner a try. I’ll let you know how it turns out. I hope you enjoy my chicken in shallots white wine sauce recipe. Until then….

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