An LA Times editor did the kind of food experiment I would do if I had the time (and no kids): eat at mid-range restaurants and compare the cost to cooking at home.
He started out with quite a few rules, but most of them made sense to me: dinners only (because breakfast and lunch are so cheap to make), no $1 burgers from fast food joints, no alcohol. And he seems to have made the kind of meals I would make if I had the time: “seared, sesame-crusted wild albacore accompanied by haricot verts with shiitake mushrooms and toasted almonds and a side of organic yams” sounds delicious, although I probably wouldn’t pair tuna with yams.
Here’s the pertinent number-crunching:
The total for a week’s worth of restaurant dinners for two was $257.08; home cooking: $148.14. Removing the outliers, a mid-range L.A. dinner was $40 for two, while shopping for insanely high-end ingredients at a snotty supermarket ran $18.
Sure, you might be able to eat out for less than you spend on groceries if you eat only the most inexpensive fast food. But if you want a healthy, well-rounded diet, cooking at home will always save you the most money. (And probably be healthier too!)