Getty Images / Stephen Chernin

A new report shows that the cost of eating out is increasing while groceries have remained at steady, historically low prices.

Zee Krstic
August 24, 2017

If you’ve been spending more and more time in your kitchen lately, you’re not alone – the Orlando Sentinel published a report that confirms the age-old adage that cooking at home really does chalk up to being much cheaper than eating out.

The July 2017 Consumer Price Index report shows that the cost of enjoying a meal outside of your home has risen more than 2 percent on average in the last year alone. But you’ve probably already noticed that groceries, on the other hand, have not risen in cost and are relatively affordable for most.

The Sentinel reports that USDA food economist Annemarie Kuhns says groceries have remained at a lower cost to consumers because wholesale foods are also relatively cheap at this time. Farmers and producers are also profiting from lower fuel prices across the nation, a streak of luck in weather patterns, and the current market favoring meat, vegetable, and dairy consumption.

You can see this price trend when comparing the cost of staple items, for example a loaf of white bread clocks in at 2 cents cheaper than a year ago (currently $1.32 on average), and a dozen eggs are 21 cents cheaper than last year. Fruit and vegetables are also priced extremely similar to the previous year’s prices, the report says.

Photo: Andrew Irving / EyeEm / Getty

You might wonder just where your money goes when you are eating out. Kuhns says 30 cents of every dollar you spent on meals at restaurants are going towards actual food costs, while the remaining 70 cents are towards service costs.

Changes to the industry like online grocery shopping are also combating trips to restaurants by saving shoppers time usually spent at the market. And the boom in delivery programs for both restaurants and markets are another reason to avoid leaving the house altogether.

The clear evolution in how consumers are interacting with food costs aren’t going unnoticed: grocery chains have increasingly deployed pick-up-and-go foods that are convenient alternatives to dine-in meals elsewhere, and meal preparation kits are also newfound sources of increased revenue.

The Sentinel reports that restaurants are trying to combat this with a few initiatives, including Tijuana Flats’ standalone taco meal kits that appeared in stores in July 2017 and increased efforts to improve mobile app-based ordering.

“There’s no denying the trend,” says Tijuana Flats CEO Larry Ryback, “We see it as a shift in our business and intend to meet the demand.”