Nutrition Made Easy

Our nutrition experts and registered dietitians translate the latest nutrition research into tips you can use to eat healthier every day.

Nutrition Showdown:
Homemade vs. Restaurant Lunch

We crunched the numbers to learn the real cost of eating out. See what lunches from leftovers can save your waist (and your wallet). By Katherine Brooking, MS, RD

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Laura Doss

About Our Methodology

Restaurant nutrition data was culled from publicly available information provided by each restaurant. Some chains do not disclose nutrition data in most states, but are required by law to do so in Washington state. In those cases, we verified the nutrition content with a Washington branch.

Recipe costs were calculated using supermarket prices (from in the Milwaukee area. Recipe ingredient costs were calculated by dividing the full cost of the grocery item by the amount of the ingredient required for the recipe. Total recipe cost was divided by the number of servings per recipe to arrive at the cost on a "single serving" basis. Grocery items selected were generally mid-to-lower-priced brands. For example, we used olive oil that was $10.49 per 17-ounce bottle. Some brands were a few dollars less, others substantially more expensive for the same amount. Restaurant prices were taken from the St. Louis and Milwaukee areas. We used single serve entrée, sandwich, salad etc. costs for comparison with the single serving cost of our recipes. For both groceries and restaurants, we used medium-sized cities with moderate pricing/cost of living. Restaurant prices do not include tax or tip.

About the author: Cooking Light contributor Katherine Brooking is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition education from Columbia University. Additional reporting by Kirsten Soelling.

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