CleverDudes Can Cook

The Cost Of A Great Burger: Restaurant Vs Cooking At Home

homemade food, burger costs, cooking at home

My wife and I spent all day Saturday doing tasks around our home. I had planned on grilling hamburgers for dinner, but when dinnertime rolled around we were both exhausted. We still had a craving for a good burger, but neither of us had the energy nor the motivation to fire up the grill.

Because we were both tired and hungry, we decided to go out to a popular burger place near our home.

We each enjoyed a perfectly made burger along with a beer. When we were almost done eating, we ordered two burgers and fries to take home to my son and one of his friends. After tip, our bill came to just under $48.

Four burgers meals and two beers cost me $48.

Suddenly I felt like I should have stayed home and fired up the grill. I wondered just how much it would have cost me to stay at home and have almost the identical meal. When I went grocery shopping that evening I added up the prices of the supplies needed to make 4 half pound burgers, fries, and two beers:

  • Two pounds of 80/20 hamburger ($3.79×2) $7.58
  • Hamburger Buns: $2.39
  • Bag of French Fries: $2.99
  • 2 Beers ($0.67 per beer x 2): $1.34

Total: $14.30

I would have saved $33.70 by staying home and making my own burgers.

Granted, there are a couple of things to keep in mind regarding the cost of making my meal at home:

  • The price of the drink at home beers is from buying an entire case at once. I can’t buy just two beers.
  • There’s a nominal cost of the charcoal needed for my grill
  • There was also an initial cost of my grill, although over years of ownership the cost per use becomes increasingly lower.

The real reason for the difference in cost between our restaurant burgers and making them at home is convenience. Was having someone else do the work of making our burgers worth $33.70? Thinking about it a couple of days later, the answer seems to be, “No.” Posed with the same question on Saturday night, my answer could have very well been the opposite.

How about you, Clever friends, do you think having someone else make a meal as easy as a hamburger is worth over $30? Have you ever calculated the difference between a restaurant meal and making the same thing at home?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

Disease Called Debt

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Hard to argue the value of staying home in terms of dollars and cents, but sometimes it just feels good to go out, have someone else take care of the cooking, serving, and cleaning. There’s value that can be applied to each of those things.

  • When I order a burger out, I’m going to want to see some good cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and some kind of really good sauce on that burger. I don’t see those “fixins” included in your home budget. When I make burgers at home, I buy angus beef, some good aged cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, vidalia onion, lettuce, awesome bbq sauce, pickles, good onion or pretzel rolls, etc. Depending on the burger place, I can sometimes get it cheaper if I go out. : )

    Now I want a burger….

    • Ah, the “fixin’s”……..good point. Those definitely can add up too…especially, like the beer, that you can’t just buy one slice of cheese, or one slice of bacon. While the “per unit” cost is low, the overall expense needed to make the meal could be much higher if a person didn’t already have them on hand.

  • Food always tastes better when someone else prepares it.

    Like Susan said…don’t forget about the condiments.

    For example, I always throw away at least half of every head of lettuce I buy. So I get lettuce for my burger and chances are I waste a minimum of 50% of it.

    You also got a couple hours out away from your kid and his friend. If you cooked at home they would be present I assume. I imagine time away from the kids has value.

    So, is it worth $30 extra? Yea, definitely…a couple times a month. Is it worth $30 a day? No way…

    • Oh, I’m not sure if food tastes better when someone else makes it…..I make some pretty good food. Now, the time away alone with my wife…that is priceless!

  • Restaurant food of any sort has value if you enjoy the eating out experience, but it is a luxury, not a necessity. Hopefully your budget has room for luxuries; which luxuries you choose is up to you and your family.

    • Good point, RAnn…’s OK to spend money on luxuries. However, I can think of better luxuries than a burger I can cook at home.

  • This is a tough one. For me, there are just days when it seems worth it. I can only do so much and suffering from simple exhaustion sometimes gets the best of me. I know that I could plan better for days like this, but having food in the house really isn’t going to motivate me to cook when I’m in one of those moods. Of course, I could save tremendously; however, I’m a big advocate of “life and a budget.” Sometimes life just gets the best of us and as long as I’ve got the money in the budget, I’m going to spend it without the guilt of saving money attached to it.

    • I can see how some days it may seem worth it. It think it’s the fact that we spend money on something I could easily make at home…..

  • This is one of the things I debate myself over all the time. I don’t have a grill & don’t know how to use one, but I can always fry up a very nice burger for way less money than it costs to have one outside the house. Yet… every once in a while you just want one that someone else cooks because it just tastes different. I figure that as long as that’s not my norm then I can forgive myself when I do it.

  • We don’t eat out often, and most of our burgers actually end up coming from fast food joints. I do know that if I eat a good burger out, I generally want toppings that I probably wouldn’t put on at home like blue cheese and carmelized onions, and have them with side dishes we wouldn’t make.
    But I do get the point. It’s easy to make a burger (or sandwich, or pasta, etc) at home. It’s more challenging to make Indian or Thai food, so eating exotic is probably a better bargain.

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