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The Full Cost of Takeout

by Bartley Creasman |

Everyone knows that eating out or hitting the takeout line is usually more expensive than preparing your own meals at home. Given how little time we all seem to have, it's no surprise that we are willing to pay for this convenience. The average meal outside of the home is around $12.75. While this includes the lower end of the spectrum (i.e. McDonald's and Chick-Fil-A at $6.25 and $7.65, respectively), even a fast-casual option like Chipotle costs between $10.24 and $13.05 based on various estimates. 

Aside from the easily measurable cost, there is the hidden cost that is more difficult to quantify - health effects. The average person will consume 200 more calories eating out (fast food or sit-down restaurant didn't make a difference), and over the course of a day those who eat dinner at home 6-7 nights per week consume 140 less calories per day than those who prep dinner once per week or less, so people aren't necessarily cutting back on other meals to make up the difference. And those calories add up. Considering there are 3,500 calories per pound, eating out regularly would cost you one pound of body weight per 25 days, or about 15 pounds per year, all else being equal (this varies by individual, but small daily habits, good or bad, add up over time). 

This caloric "cost" directly translates into a monetary cost if it causes you to be overweight or obese. According to a George Washington University study, the health repercussions of being obese in the U.S. costs "$4,879 for women and $2,646 for men each year. The overall annual costs of being overweight are $524 for women and $432 for men. The researchers defined “obesity” as a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30, and “overweight” as a BMI between 25–29." The article has more details about the breakdown of this cost, and does add in a cost for decreased life expectancy, but it's mostly due to direct medical costs. Really puts your health into a different perspective...

Everything we've discussed here motivated us in the beginning to get 80Fresh off the ground. From the personal experience of our co-founders, we found that it was very difficult to consistently prepare a healthy dinner after a long day. While being active helps, we were only able to improve and maintain a healthy weight by making sustainable changes to our diet - including eating home-cooked meals regularly (which has been linked to increased longevity). We still haven't found a way to make the day any longer, but we can make a home-cooked dinner as easy as it will ever be, while keeping you from paying the high health cost of eating takeout all the time... all for the same price and time as a Chipotle visit.