Do you ever wonder why your money disappears so fast and where it goes? If you grab a coffee and muffin for breakfast at Starbuck’s or your local café, buy lunch at a restaurant or carry-out and swing by Whole Foods or another place with prepared foods for quick dinner take-out, then lots of your money is going for those take-out/restaurant meals. You can save money and eat better if you do just a bit more home-cooking.
Have you ever kept track of how much you spend on take-out and restaurant meals in a typical week? Don’t kid yourself – whether you pay cash or use a debit or credit card – even if each expenditure isn’t big, it all adds up. Start small, but measure the difference. I’m betting that in no time, you’ll have saved quite a bit.
Using a breakfast or snack muffin as an example, here’s the math. This morning I checked the price of muffins at Starbuck’s, a local bakery (Firehook) and a supermarket (Giant) that has stores throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Starbucks muffins cost $1.89, Firehook’s muffins are $1.55 and Giant charges $1.29 per muffin/$3.99 for a package of four. Using my banana bread recipe, home-made muffins cost $4.25 - 6.25 for 12 muffins or $0.36 - 0.53 per muffin. (The cost variation for home-made depends primarily on the type and cost of the add-ons like chocolate chips and nuts.) So if you eat a muffin each weekday morning, you save between $20.60 and $9.35 every month if all you do is make home-made muffins instead of buying them from a café, bakery or grocery!
Taste matters, of course, and you’ll have to judge for yourself which muffins meet your standards. In my experience, home-made wins hands down. Firehook comes close and Starbucks isn’t bad, but as far as I’m concerned, the least expensive (grocery store) brands typically don’t make the grade.
Baking and shopping for ingredients do take time and you may not have a muffin pan, so there may be additional costs (pennies in the long run) that are not accounted for in my example. But to the doubters, I say that you’ll find it’s not so time-consuming to add a couple of ingredients for muffins to your shopping list, you’ll learn to love the break from routine that baking provides, and the smell of fresh muffins in your apartment or house will more than make up for not being able to socialize while you stand in long lines at Starbuck’s or your local café, waiting for their mass-produced muffins.