My Friend Never Cooks — and It Costs Her Almost $5,000 a Year

A husband cooking at the stove while his wife looks on, both of them smiling.

Image source: Getty Images

The cost of dining out and ordering in can really add up.


Key points

  • Some people don’t have the time or desire to cook.
  • Not cooking could cost so much money, it ends up impeding your other financial goals.
  • Simple recipes and meal kits can help you get started cooking, as can inviting family members into the kitchen with you.

I happen to really enjoy cooking. And I’m actually pretty decent at it. The reason I don’t do it more often boils down to time, or a lack thereof.

Not only do I have kids and a household to maintain, but I also work full time — and often beyond full time, meaning more than 40 hours a week. Between that and some volunteer work I do, there are weeks when I simply don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen whipping up meals. And those are the weeks when I fall back on takeout, despite the higher credit card tab it leads to.

But a friend of mine almost never cooks. And the reason doesn’t have to do with a lack of time. Rather, it’s a lack of desire.

Dining out can be a major expense

My friend claims she’s a terrible cook. I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never sampled anything that comes out of her kitchen. But it’s not just that she doesn’t like to cook. She also feels that because it’s just her and her husband, it’s more cost-effective to dine at restaurants and order in than to cook for themselves.

Last year, I challenged that line of thinking and asked her to tally up her spending on restaurants and takeout. We then compared that cost to the cost of padding her existing grocery spending by $200 a week (keeping in mind that she and her husband commonly eat breakfast and lunch at home and make it themselves). All told, we found that even if cooking were to cost her an extra $200 in groceries, she’d save about $5,000 a year compared to the cost of dining out and ordering takeout as frequently as she does.

That was an eye-opener, to say the least. And this year, one of my friend’s New Year’s resolutions is to try to get on board with cooking a bit more.

If you tend to avoid cooking because you don’t like to or don’t know how, the reality is that it could save you a lot of money. So here are some options to consider.

1. Sign up for a meal kit service

Meal kits are often more expensive than buying groceries at the supermarket. But they can be a source of savings compared to dining out and ordering in. And they make the process of cooking simple, since you get all of the ingredients you need delivered to your door with easy-to-follow recipes.

2. Stick to very simple recipes

You don’t have to go from not cooking at all to whipping up complicated three-course meals in your kitchen. Instead, keep things simple. Stick to basic recipes like chicken and rice or pasta and vegetables until you get more comfortable experimenting with different ingredients and techniques.

3. Make it a family affair

There’s no rule stating that you have to suffer alone in the kitchen while cooking meals. If cooking really isn’t in your wheelhouse, enlist the help of your family members to help you get better at it. Cook meals jointly with your spouse, and if your kids are old enough, have them help.

Never cooking at all could really cost you a lot of money. Although I don’t see my friend becoming a regular cook, I do think she’s going to try to do better in that regard this year. And if you’re tired of spending a fortune on restaurants and takeout, it pays to do what you can to get on board with cooking.

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