The cost of eating in versus eating out

Vintage industrial decorated restaurant

Staying in instead of going out has always been the desirable option for those looking to save money. But when it comes to eating in versus eating out, how much do you really save? How does cooking up a meal for yourself match up to eating in a restaurant?

Here, we look at how much it costs to eat the nation’s favourite dishes – both at home and out – in the UK’s 3 largest cities.

What are the UK’s favourite dishes?

In 2014, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, BBC Good Food surveyed 100,000 people on YouGov about their eating habits. Respondents cited the following as being ‘food heaven’ for them:

  1. Roast dinner (43%)
  2. Steak and chips (35%)
  3. Scones, jam and clotted cream (30%)
  4. Apple crumble (29%)
  5. Chocolate brownie (23%)
  6. Lasagne (22%)
  7. Pizza (22%)
  8. Spaghetti bolognese (21%)
  9. Strawberry cheesecake (21%)
  10. Steak and ale pie (20%)

How much does it cost to make the nation’s favourite dishes?

We’ve calculated how much it costs to make the dishes at home, to see what the cost of eating in may be.

We’ve chosen to calculate the costs of ingredients from Tesco, the UK’s leading supermarket with 28.1% of the market share, and the top-rated recipe on BBC Good Food. The total cost is based on the cost to buy all of the ingredients needed.

Roast chicken dinnercredit

Roast dinner (43%)

Recipe: One-pan roast dinner

  • 1½ kg chicken
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 50g softened butter
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 750g potatoes, chopped into roastie size
  • 500g carrots, chopped into chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp Marmite

Total cost: £15.54

Grilled steak and chipscredit

Steak and chips (35%)

Recipe: Steak, chips & quick pepper sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large potato, cut into chunky chips, skin left on
  • 1 fillet steak
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 125ml beef stock
  • 2 heaped tbsp extra thick double cream

Total cost: £8.57

Scones with jam and clotted creamcredit

Scones, jam and clotted cream (30%)

Recipe: Classic scones with jam & clotted cream

  • 350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 175ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  • Beaten egg, to glaze
  • Jam and clotted cream, to serve

Total cost: £9.23

Apple crumblecredit

Apple crumble (29%)

Recipe: Apple & blackberry crumble

  • 120g plain flour
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 300g Braeburn apple
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 30g demerara sugar
  • 115g blackberries
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla
  • Ice cream, to serve

Total cost: £10.53

Chocolated browniescredit

Chocolate brownie (23%)

Recipe: Best-ever brownies

  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 185g best dark chocolate
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 50g white chocolate
  • 50g milk chocolate
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g golden caster sugar

Total cost: £10.34

Plate of lasagnecredit

Lasagne (22%)

Recipe: Lasagne

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot (about 100g/4oz) finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 140g pack Cubetti di Pancetta
  • 500g pack beef mince
  • 500g pack of pork mince or British veal mince
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 500ml red wine
  • 400g dried pasta sheets
  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1½ litre of milk
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 3 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • Grating of nutmeg

Total cost: £25.38

Stone baked pizza

Pizza (22%)

Recipe: Pizza margherita in 4 easy steps

  • 300g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast (from a sachet or a tub)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 100ml passata
  • Handful of fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 125g ball mozzarella, sliced
  • Handful of grated or shaved Parmesan
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Handful of basil leaves (optional)

Total cost: £8.97

Spaghetti bolognaise

Spaghetti bolognaise (21%)

Recipe: The best spaghetti bolognese

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
  • Small pack of basil, leaves picked, ¾ finely chopped and the rest left whole for garnish
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 125ml red wine
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 75g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
  • 400g spaghetti
  • Crusty bread, to serve (optional)

Total cost: £19.29

Strawberry cheesecakecredit

Strawberry cheesecake (21%)

Recipe: Strawberry cheesecake in 4 easy steps

  • 250g digestive biscuit
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 600g soft cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 284ml pot of double cream
  • 400g punnet strawberry, halved
  • 25g icing sugar

Total cost: £9.93

Steak pie and chipscredit

Steak and ale pie (20%)

Recipe: Proper beef, ale & mushroom pie

  • Small handful of dried porcini mushrooms (about 10g)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1kg braising steak
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 large carrots, chopped into large chunks
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 300ml dark ale
  • 2 beef stock cubes mixed with 400ml boiling water
  • Small bunch each of thyme, bay leaves and parsley, tied together
  • 200g smoked bacon lardons, or chopped rashers
  • 200g chestnut mushroom, halved
  • 650g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250g lard or cold butter (or half of each), diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten, to glaze

Total cost: £27.35

Eating out

The nation’s largest cities

In order to determine the cities to examine in this research, we’ve chosen the 3 largest cities by population size, according to Centre for Cities:

  1. London
  2. Birmingham
  3. Manchester

Calculating the cost of eating out

To determine the cost of eating out, we’ll examine the top restaurants and take-aways on TripAdvisor in that city, that sell the dishes.

Included in the list of restaurants is the average price range as specified by TripAdvisor. This will dictate how much it costs to eat out at the top five places in the 3 cities.

Big Ben at sunset

LONDON

Restaurants

  1. Liman Restaurant

Price range: £10-23

  1. The Five Fields

Price range: £55-80

  1. Mr Piadina

Price range: £3-6

  1. Andy’s Greek Taverna

Price range: £15

  1. Typing Room

Price range: £29-£75

Post Box in Birmingham at sunsetcredit

BIRMINGHAM

Restaurants

  1. Adam’s

Price range: £35-£110

  1. The Wilderness

Price range: £50-£100

  1. Original Patty Men

Price range: £7-£12

  1. Wrapchic

Price range: £2-£4

  1. Purnell’s

Price range: £35-£150

Arial view of Manchester at nightcredit

MANCHESTER

Restaurants

  1. Bar San Juan

Price range: £10-£20

  1. Alexandros Greek Restaurant

Price range: £15-£22

  1. Pasha Restaurant

Price range: £3-£12

  1. Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill

Price range: £20-£40

  1. Federal Café and Bar

Price range: £4-£10

This research was created by Oldrids & Downton, who specialise in the sale of dinner sets and other homewares.

[disclosure*]

Apple and chilli jelly

Spoonful of home-made apple and chilli jelly | H is for Home

We spent about an hour this week picking apples in Justin’s parents’ neighbours’ garden. Got all that?

Chopped apples, chilli and lemon zest

We must have harvested about 10 to 15 kilos. I wanted to make something where I didn’t need to peel and core that many apples. Though they’re delicious (they’re cooking apples), a lot of them are small and misshapen – a nightmare job!

jelly making equipment | H is for Home jelly making equipment | H is for Home

Justin suggested apple and chilli jelly. It would utilise the apples – and some of the 300 glass jars I’ve managed to accumulate over the years!

Strained juice and bags of sugar | H is for Home

I weighed out 4 kilos of apples – so doubled up this recipe. I barely made a dent in the pile!

Sterilized jelly jars and funnel | H is for Home

It’s not a complicated process, but a bit of time is required for chopping, boiling, straining, re-boiling. No problem if you’re in the house as you can get on with something else as it bubbles away.

Jars of apple and chilli jelly | H is for Home

The resulting jelly is a wonderful colour – and tastes amazing! The perfect accompaniment for vegetarian or meat dishes which is ideal for this household. Perfect with cheese, burgers and kebabs. Justin thinks it will be absolutely awesome with slow roast pork and has vowed to try it at the weekend. If you have an apple harvest ready to pick then we can thoroughly recommend this recipe. It will last for months (even years) in your store cupboard – or make perfect presents for anyone deserving enough!

Jars of apple and chilli jelly | H is for Home

Now… what to do with the other 10 kilos of apples?!

No churn pistachio ice cream

Home-made no churn pistachio ice cream | H is for Home

Remember last week, I failed to use the bag of pistachios in my store cupboard? Well I’ve used them this week… well most of them, anyway.

Milk and pistachios in a saucepan | H is for Home

I’ve puréed them and whipped up a batch of pistachio ice cream adapting my basic no-churn ice cream recipe originally borrowed from Nigella.

Pistachio purée in an electric blender | H is for Home

It tastes nothing like the pistachio ice cream you can buy in a supermarket (in a good way).

Whipped cream in a food processor | H is for Home

It looks nothing like it either – but if you like it like that, by all means add a couple of drops of green food colouring to the mix.

Tub of home-made pistachio ice cream with chopped pistachios sprinkled on the top | H is for Home

Finish with a generous sprinkling of chopped pistachios and you’ve got yourself a quick, simple summertime dessert to enjoy on it’s own, in a cone or as an accompaniment to a hot fruit pie or brownie.

Redcurrant ice cream

Home-made redcurrant ice cream | H is for Home

This week, Justin spent a few hours on our allotment picking kilos of redcurrants. When he got home, they immediately got decanted into plastic tubs and put into the freezer until I decided what I was going to do with them. In past years, our redcurrant haul has been turned into tarts, jelly, cordial and relish.

Redcurrant juice concentrate being added to caster sugar | H is for Home

Seeing as the UK is in the midst of a mini-heatwave, there was only one thing for it – redcurrant ice cream.

Whipped cream and redcurrant juice | H is for Home

Redcurrants make the most bright, beautiful pink swirly ripple ice cream with a sweet, tangy taste.

Home-made redcurrant ice cream before putting it into the freezer | H is for Home

And best of all, you don’t need an ice cream maker and it’s only 3 ingredients! If you don’t have access to redcurrants, most other berries can be used in their place – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants… or a mixture of all of the above. The recipe below makes about 1 litre.

Step up your healthy eating game

Selection of healthy foodcredit

Gone are the days where you can just look at food and know where it’s been. Now, you don’t even know what’s in your food or where it comes from unless you read the packaging. Although there’s an abundance of unhealthy foods around, you’re by no means limited in your selection of healthy and tasty foods. Before you throw all caution to the wind with your eating habits, take some time to adjust them so you can enjoy better health.

Japanese mealcredit

You can’t judge food by its appearance

Often times, you may use the appearance of your foods to determine whether or not they’re suitable for you to purchase and eat. However, many foods, especially processed ones don’t spoil or show signs of being poor in quality right away. Sometimes the best way you can judge your food is to sniff and taste it. If it smells or tastes like something that turns your stomach, then you may want to avoid eating it.

Of course, there are some foods and dishes in other cultures that may not look like many of the foods you’re accustomed to eating. However, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid them.

Full chest freezercredit

Storage appliances

Depending on where you live, your local climate and other environmental factors, you need to be careful about how you store your food. Some items cannot be left out at room temperature for too long or they’ll begin to spoil. You don’t want to waste any food that you spent time and money to get. Invest into some good food storage appliances like a refrigerator. If you plan to keep certain food items for several months in the freezer, you should use a deep freezer instead of the one on your refrigerator.

Deep freezers are designed differently and are made for freezing and storing foods for long periods of time. Also, your frozen food is better protected because you won’t open and close the door to the appliance as much which helps to keep prevent the viscous cycle of thawing and re-thawing your foods.

Reading food packaging in a supermarketcredit

Read the package

Sometimes food, no matter how good it looks, isn’t healthy for you. Some foods have a lot of unhealthy things in them that can ultimately affect the way you feel and look and your health. It can be the case that foods are made using questionable practices and equipment that may pose a risk to your health. Play it safe by paying close attention to the information that is on the packaging of the foods you buy.

Compact kitchencredit

Kitchen design matters

The way you prepare and cook your food matters. Many people who have small kitchens try to minimize the time they spend in them because the lack of space affects their moods. A great way to make the tasks of food preparation and cooking more enjoyable is to design or decorate your kitchen so that it uplifts your mood and makes you want to be in it. Certain colours and accents can improve lighting and create visual effects that give the illusion of more space. Strategic storage cabinets and utensil placement can add more space and comfort into your kitchen as well.

Hamptoncreek food products

Buy better foods

You may need to spend a little more money just so you can eat foods that are of good quality. Certain manufacturers like Hamptoncreek Foods have an impressive line of plant-based food products that you can use to transform your health and taste buds in a healthy way. There’s nothing wrong with spending a little more money for quality.

Food preparation in a kitchencredit

Make cooking a priority

If you struggle to find time to cook and spend more of your time eating fast food and processed meals, then you may need to make some adjustment to your schedule so you can adapt healthier eating habits. Pick one day out of the week to prepare your meals. Use that day to plan out your dinner menu for the entire week and complete any preparation work so all you have to do is to select a meal and put it into the oven. You should also consider doing all of your grocery shopping for the week on a designated day.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires you to be committed. Start making better food choices now so you can enjoy the benefits for the rest of your life.

[disclosure*]

Save

Nettle pesto

Home-made nettle pesto | H is for Home

The nettle patches around here are in fine form at the moment. For the past week or so, I’ve been telling myself off for not carrying rubber gloves and a large plastic bag when I go for a dog walk. Finally, I remembered to do it yesterday and picked myself a bagful of bright green, vibrant nettle tips.

Freshly picked nettle tips |H is for Home

I’ve previously shared recipes for nettle soup and nettle loaf. This time I’m making a batch of nettle pesto.

Grated Parmesan | H is for Home

The nettles take the place of basil and I’ve replaced the more traditional pine nuts with walnuts.

Nettle pesto ingredients in a food processor bowl | H is for Home

The taste and smell is much earthier than traditional pesto but can be used in exactly the same way. It’s a very versatile store cupboard ingredient. I like it with an extra glug of olive oil and mixed through plain spaghetti then finished with a spoonful of grated Parmesan. I also like adding a few small dollops of pesto to the top of a pizza before putting into in the oven. Justin thinks it’s great with roasted or pan fried meats too – and has just made chicken breast wrapped in smoked ham and filled with nettle pesto butter for this evening’s meal.