How much money does cooking it yourself REALLY save you?

Before you get into this blog post, know that I am a busy mom, wife, and entrepreneur. Even though my passion is to help women make their money pretty… I am NOT gonna tell you that going out for dinner or ordering meals in is a no-no. I GET what it’s like to come home at the end of the day (or emerge from your bedroom-turned-home-office-because-covid) and NOT want to cook. I personally don’t consider myself much of a homemaker and find myself in woe if I have to come up with dinner on the spot. BUT I have also noticed that food delivery services and ordering in has increased (in my home and in my Pretty Money Club members.) I read comments on Facebook threads where women were wondering aloud how much more it reallllly costs to just get that take-out instead of going to all the trouble making it at home. So I got curious. I did a lot of math. The short answer is YES; making food at home DEFINITELY saves you money. But you might be shocked to know just how much.

Get the whole family involved in burger making tonight! In this blog post I compare the cost of a burger meal from three different restaurants, and then show you my own burger recipe in an effort to show you how easy it is to make a meal that everyone will enjoy while saving money and eating healthier. Good for your wallet, good for your body!

Fast food versus home cooking… how much do you save?

McDonald’s: Quarter Pounder with Cheese combo


Cost per person: $10.89 + tax
Total Cost for family of 4: $48.79 incl. tax


  • 100% Canadian beef
  • Pepper & salt for seasoning
  • Processed Cheese Slice
  • Pickles
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Toasted sesame seed bun

Fries (medium size):

  • Potatoes, Cooked in vegetable oil blend (canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil)
  • Salt


  • Coca cola (med) with ice

Although a night out at McDonald’s is the cheapest option out of all three restaurants, it does not mean you are getting your money’s worth. It’s also not the most glamourous night out, as I’m sure you can imagine. Not only does the caloric intake of this meal total half of an average adult’s daily recommended intake, but the calories in this meal are not healthy ones. The reason for this is primarily because there many more additives in McDonald’s food that gives it a distinct flavour, but that also makes the food less natural and therefore a lot unhealthier to consume. You can easily make this meal at home using cleaner food choices.

[For instance, make French fries from scratch with Canadian russet potatoes simply by peeling, rinsing, slicing, and baking for 40 minutes.] [Another way to cut the calories and is to opt out Coca cola with a cleaner beverage, such as soda water with a squirt of fresh-squeezed lemon juice. ]

Moxie’s: Cheeseburger


Cost per person: $16.00 (not incl. drink) + tax and gratuity
Total Cost for family of 4: $71.68 incl. tax, before gratuity


  • Beef patty
  • Aged white cheddar
  • Red relish
  • Pickled mustard seed mayo
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Red onions
  • Pickles
  • Toasted sesame brioche bun

Served with fries

Moxie’s does a good job of packing their burgers full of goodies. I especially like the fact that they include lettuce and red onions (although there’s currently a recall on red onions in North America, so you’ll have to settle for white or yellow). I also appreciate that they use real cheese. Yum! While this is a better option than fast food, in terms of both dining experience and health consciousness, the cost is much higher. You’re looking at more than $70 for a family of 4, before drinks and gratuity. The burger meal does not include a drink, so you can expect to add at least an additional $3.50 each for a soda, or more if you and/or the hubby wants a glass of beer. The costs add up quickly if you include the whole family.

OLO Restaurant, Victoria BC: Cheeseburger


Cost per person: $23.00 (not incl. drink) + tax and gratuity
Total Cost for family of 4: $103.04+ incl. tax before gratuity


  • Beef patty
  • Mushroom ketchup
  • Onion
  • Lettuce
  • Pickles

Served with fries

I appreciate that this burger includes a unique mushroom ketchup. Still, this is a pretty penny for a cheeseburger meal, especially for a family on a budget. Again, drinks are not included in the meal cost. OLO does not list the cost of a soda on their website, but one can assume a class of Coca cola or the like would be in the range of $3.00 or more.

Make it from home:

Cost per person: $5.58 (not incl. drink)
Total Cost for family of 4: $22.32 (not incl. drink)

I was pretty generous in OVER estimating the cost of portions of things that you could buy in bulk… so this example would be if you went into a grocery store, had to buy ALL the ingredients, and didn’t bother to look for sales. Normally the recipes that I recommend come in at $12.00 for a family of four. Yep. TWELVE DOLLARS. If you need to know these recipes, join my facebook group exclusively for women who want to make their money pretty. I’m gonna be running a grocery challenge soon and I’ll definitely be sharing some winning eats.

BURGER:Price per burger (prices are approximate)Price per family of 4Bulk price before tax
6 oz. ground beef $1.68$6.73$4.49 /lb, buy 1.5lbs = $6.73
Salt & pepper for seasoning$.10*$.40*$5.64 for S&P shakers, 155g ea.
Slice of cheddar cheese (20g)$.49$1.96$7.35 for 300g
Vegetable oil$.02$.08$4.59 for 1.42L
Sesame hamburger bun$.37$1.49$2.99 for 8 pack
Pickles$.15$.60$4.79 for 500ml jar
Ketchup$.03$.12$2.99 for 750ml container
Lettuce$.37$1.49$2.99 for 1 bunch
Onion$.09$.37$.74 each
TOTAL PRICE to make burgers:$3.30$13.20$39.08

FRIES:Price per portionPrice per family of 4Bulk price before tax
2lbs Potatoes $1.98$7.92$0.99 /lb
Vegetable oil$.80$.80Already purchased above
Salt$.10$.40Already purchased above
TOTAL PRICE to make fries:$2.88$9.12$10.01

TOTAL COST to make dinner @ home:$5.58$22.32$49.09


Burger (yield: 1 burger):

  • 6 oz. ground beef (for the best burgers, use ground beef with 80/20 meat to fat ratio)
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning
  • Slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Sesame hamburger bun
  • 1 pickle, sliced
  • Ketchup
  • Lettuce
  • 2-3 slices of onion


  1. Heat vegetable oil on a pan using high heat (preferably cast iron).
  2. Form beef patties and season with salt & pepper. Poke a thumbprint in the middle of each patty and place cheese on top of patty.
  3. Place each patty on the pan and cook on high heat for 3-4 minutes. Ensure the cheese is melted.
  4. Place sliced pickles, lettuce, onion and ketchup on toasted bun.
  5. Place cooked burger patty on bun & close. You’re done!

French fries (yield: 4 servings):

  • 2 lbs (6) potatoes, sliced into strips
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Salt


  1. Peel & rinse potatoes. Cut them into sticks by cutting potato into 4-5 vertical pieces, then cutting each piece into sticks.
  2. Place in large bowl with cold water. Allow them to soak for 2-3 hours (or overnight if it’s easier).
  3. When you’re ready to make fries, drain water & lay potatoes on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. Blot the potatoes with paper towel to dry them.
  4. Heat a few inches of oil in a large pot. Cook potatoes in 2 batches until soft, 4-5 minutes per batch. This starts the cooking process; do not cook fully. Remove each batch and drain onto new/dry paper towels.
  5. Turn up heat, and when oil is hot, fry potatoes in batches again until fries are golden crisp. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and voila!

In this recipe I’ve drawn from each of the three restaurant orders in an effort to show how you can make a dish similar to theirs for much cheaper at home. For vegan/vegetarian option, substitute beef for Beyond Meat™ burger patties. They are a bit pricier, however, and will run you about $9.99 for two. Also you can substitute cheese slice for Daiya cheese (20g per burger), which is approximately $4-5 per 200g bag. The prices were extracted from the Save-on-Foods online shopping portal ( If you already have ingredients on-hand, like salt, pepper, vegetable oil, and ketchup, this whole meal will cost you even less than what is listed above.

So, you can feed a family of 4 at home for cheaper than what you’d pay even at McDonald’s, with better ingredients. Even if you have to go to the grocery store and pick up ingredients in bulk, you’ll still pay less than what you would pay at McDonald’s for one dinner… and you’ll have ingredients left over for future meals. And with a little elbow grease, you’ll feel better knowing you made it all from scratch. Amazing, right?!

If you wanna get on board with me and learn some grocery hacks that will save you hundreds of dollars every month… join my free facebook group. I’m gonna be going live to share my secrets with you… and I’ll be hosting an awesome challenge in September with a yummy prize. I’d love for you to join in!

OR if you want some FREE recipes, I’ve got a few up my sleeve. How does $4 dinners, $3 lunches, and $2 breakfasts sound??? Yummy. That’s how. Click here for some recipe inspo!

Published by theprettymoneyblog

To all you women that are working too damn hard to feel like you’re just getting by paycheque to paycheque… To all you ladies that just don’t have the freaking time for financial jargon and complicated budget systems… ​To all you women struggling to feel in control of your money, ’cause you know you can rock it if you just had a simple map… I see you. I GET you. I'm a busy mom of two boys and a wife to my business partner. I love baseball, red wine, and our family trip to Mexico every year. After more than a decade as a licensed professional in the personal finance industry, I’ve figured out strategies that are simple, but have massive impact on your wallet. I’ve left out the jargon and fine print because I know you don't have time for that. The Pretty Money Club enrolls new members twice a year for the 8 week course that will turn your ugly budget into top model pretty money... and most of our members stay in the club after class is done to keep learning and stay in touch with all the women they built community with.

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