Don’t go out to eat

December 3 is dine in day.

Could you be one of 200,000 people that “dine in” on Dec. 3? The American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) wants to double last year’s 100,000 commitments to dine in. This Dec. 3 the Family & Consumer Sciences Day – “Dining In” for Healthy Families. You can make your commitment at the AAFCS website.

So are there benefits to making the commitment? According to the Family Dinning Project website, sharing a meal together is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members. Another benefit may be to your wallet. However, this may not be as apparent at first glance. After all, take a survey of most fast-food restaurants and you will discover that there is some version of a reduced-price menu. Many have one dollar selections. So if a family of four spends $5 each for a complete meal, the total is only $20. Could you prepare the same meal at home for your family of four for less than $20?

According to the bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of all uncooked ground beef was about $4.36 per pound in October 2015. If each family member had a quarter pound, the cost for the beef would be $1.09 per person. Chicken is less expensive at $1.26 per pound in October. Pork is somewhere in between. Consider the bun, the lettuce, tomatoes and other extras. If your fast food consists of meat, it may be hard to beat a complete sandwich for a dollar. If your appetite is greater than the low cost menu, or if you add a nice atmosphere and a server, your costs can quickly increase. Therefore, the debate may continue. However, there may be other costs to consider.

In the Michigan State University Extension article “Obesity is a money problem”, I detail the added costs of obesity. We may even get a deal for larger portions of food, but the added fat and calories may add to our waist line. Healthcare costs for being overweight can be significant. So let the debate rage on, but maybe give “dining in” a chance, at least on Dec. 3. You just might benefit. If you would like more information about money management, visit the MI Money Health webpage for more information and answers to your questions. 

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