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Is It Cheaper To Eat Out or Use a Meal Delivery Service?

In a society where we are always going, it can get tempting to want to eat out to save money or order food that we can just throw together. But is it cheaper to eat out or use a meal delivery service? Let’s take a look.

Is It Cheaper to Eat Out or Use a Meal Delivery Service?

This post was written by our staff writer, Kimberly Studdard.

Look At How Much You Spend

Both options are going to be more expensive than buying groceries and making meals yourself. However, if you’re someone who is always on the go or is a busy professional and doesn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to shopping and cooking, both of these options are available. So the question you need to ask yourself is how much you’re willing to spend to eat out or use a meal delivery service.

Related: How to Feed a Family For Less Than $400 a Month

Eating Out Pros & Cons

If you choose to eat out, here are some of the pros and cons.

eat out or use a meal delivery serviceQuick & Easy

Everyone knows that it’s quicker to go through drive-thru than it is to make a meal from scratch. And you don’t even have to lift a finger. So a big pro with eating out is that it’s quick and easy, a benefit some people may need based on their lifestyle.

Can Be Cheap

If you’re single or if you don’t mind dollar menu items, eating out can also be inexpensive. Now, this isn’t to say that it’s going to be the same price as buying and making your food, but it also doesn’t have to completely wreck your wallet.

Enjoy New Cuisines

Wondering if you should eat out or use a meal delivery service? Well, if you’re lucky enough to live in a diverse neighborhood, you’re more likely to have a plethora of available cuisines at your disposal. This is great if you’re an adventurous eater, or if you want to get the most bang for your buck. Another perk to trying new cuisines is that many are affordable, like Latin and Asian dishes.

Can Be Unhealthy

Of course, with eating out, you take the risk of not eating as healthy as you could be. Eating out, especially at a fast food restaurant, could be detrimental to your health. If you’re going to choose to eat out, it’s important to weigh the cost of your health as well.

Can Get Expensive

If you love good food, want to stay healthy, or have dietary restrictions (ex. vegetarian, vegan, etc), eating out can quickly become a large expense in your budget.

Meal Delivery Service Pros & Cons

Eat out or use a meal delivery service? Well, just like eating out, getting your meals delivered has its pros and cons as well.

Fresh Food

The food that you receive from delivery services will typically be significantly fresher than you would get while eating out. On top of that, some delivery services even offer organic options, if that is something you prefer.

Options like:

…are all great choices and can be customized to fit your taste and dietary needs.

Great When You’re Busy

If you’re a busy professional that enjoys cooking from home but doesn’t always have the time, a meal delivery service may actually benefit you. You’ll get all of the ingredients shipped straight to your door, and you’ll only have to worry about the prepping.

No Food Waste

With meal delivery services, you only get what you will use to make the meals. So, you won’t have to worry about wasting food or food going bad before you ever even get the chance to use it.


The great thing about ordering meal delivery is that you can customize it to your personal needs. You could get meal delivery weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly if it suits your fancy. If you’re able to stretch out meals, this could also save you money while giving you easy and healthy meals to prepare.

You Still Have To Prep

The biggest benefit to eating out is you don’t have to do the prep and clean up. With meal delivery, you still have to cook your own food (unless you get meal delivery with pre-made food). If you’re not the best cook or don’t really have the time to prepare food, meal delivery may not be for you.

Still Not As Cheap As Making Homemade Food

Even getting fresh groceries delivered to your door isn’t as cheap as buying food at your local grocery store. Homemade food will always reign supreme, but at the very least, meal delivery can get pretty darn close.

Eat Out or Use a Meal Delivery Service? Maybe Neither…

Here’s the thing — both eating out and a meal delivery service are more expensive than buying your own groceries and preparing your meals. However, if you’re managing your money wisely, and if you just don’t have the time to cook, these options are plentiful and can offer you more variety.

I wouldn’t recommend either of these options to someone struggling with high figure debt, or someone who doesn’t make wise financial choices. However, if your ducks are all in a row, and you’re looking to add time back into your week, a meal delivery service might just be the best option for you.

So what’s your take? Eat out or use a meal delivery service?

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AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard

Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.


  1. Hi Kim,
    I think most people generally eat out as its a change of scenery with no cooking or mess!
    An alternate option to a food delivery service is to set up automatic food deliveries from your local food shop. This will generally be cheaper than receiving the portioned sized pieces that come in those other services.
    I think eating-in is the way to go as I like to cook and eat at home. Another alternative is to do your shopping and food preparations on the weekend, then freeze ready-made meals for the week.

    • Yeah, bulk cooking is a good option. Definitely takes discipline though! For us, we eat in often (big thanks to the wife on this one!). We eat out maybe once every couple weeks. And, I can’t ever see us paying a premium for a meal delivery service.

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