Bringing Leftovers Home Isn’t Always A Money Saver

Bringing Leftovers Home Isn’t Always A Money Saver

Often, when I go out to dinner, I’ll order something large knowing that I’ll take half of it home for lunch tomorrow. The Simple Dollar notes that this isn’t exactly a money-saving trick.

Photo by Ginny

Say you have the choice between a smaller meal that you’ll finish for dinner, or a larger meal that you can take home — for only $4 more. It may seem like an easy $4 lunch, but chances are the lunch you make at home is much cheaper:

Right now, I’m eating an egg sandwich I made myself for lunch. It consists of a piece of bread, a poached egg, and a little bit of salt and pepper. The total cost of this sandwich is about a quarter. If I wanted two, the total cost would be about $0.50.

. . .When I tack on a few more bucks to essentially get another meal to take home with me, that extra meal amounts to leftovers and is costing me several bucks.

Of course, if you would have gone out to lunch anyway, it might be a better deal. Similarly, if you don’t have the choice between a large dinner and a small one, then saving the leftovers gets you your money’s worth. Or heck, maybe you just really like the food and are fine paying $4 to have it twice. But ordering the large meal with an intent to “save money” is one of those little fallacies we believe in all too often.

Large Portions and Doggie Bags [The Simple Dollar]


  • This is prob slightly off topic.. but similar… it really annoys me when you go to a supermarket and you buy a meal.. but you only want half of the meal.. you either have to use it or throw it away… ie a steak… too much for one person or one meal.. you have to either use it in a few days or freeze it…and there’s ALOT of examples

    • This. I’ve found I’ve had to get very creative with leftovers over the years, simply because smaller packs aren’t available or it’s just not economically viable (often the smaller the pack the bigger the per-unit cost). Most things now I can turn into either a different meal the next night or something interesting for lunch the next day. That steak you used as an example makes a great thai beef salad the next day :).

    • … or if you have chicken, you just feed the leftovers to the chooks. Our green bin is always empty, as all our table scraps go to the chicken. You can have chicken in suburbia, as long as you don’t have roosters. Check with your council what the regulations about chickens are. And as a side effect, you also get fresh eggs every day.

        • Check with your landlord – I got friends who are renting and they asked if they could have a few chooks – approved!

  • This is a very american thing to do. I couldn’t make a decent sandwich for $0.50 if I tried. Cheapest eggs at Coles is $3.30 for 12, 0.275 each. Cheapest bread at Coles is Coles brand white $1.00 for 22 slices, 0.045 each. Total sandwich cost of $0.37 (assuming no waste). Total energy is 885 kJ (10% RDI). Because that isn’t very balanced you will probably use multi-grain, and add some lettuce, tomato, maybe even a condiment, or include a piece of fruit, yoghurt, or snack, all increasing the cost. Just like how feed your family for $10 doesn’t include basics you already have and assumes your family don’t eat their RDI.

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