When eating outside is cheaper than cooking yourself

I have a confession to make- I have stopped cooking since a few months ago. Most of the days, I would cook the rice and then pack some dishes from the economy rice stalls.

Reason why I buy food outside instead of cooking:

1. The dishes sold outside cost almost the same and sometimes cheaper than what I had to cook myself
I always remember this incident- I went to the market and tried to buy a small angel fish to steam for my mom. The seller sold it to me for RM9 per fish. I came back and had to wash, processed, marinate and steam the fish myself. It turns out edible, but not really nice.

One day, I got too tired to cook so I picked up the same steam fish from the mix rice stall. My eyes blinked when the guy told me the price. Looking at my reaction, the guy thought I wanted to complaint it is too expensive. He tried to explain… well, the fish itself cost RM8.

I told him that I was surprised because when the fish from the market itself cost me RM9. I know it is probably cheaper if you buy from hypermarts but I’ve always preferred to buy fish from the wet market. After this incident, I started to think seriously that buying dishes may be more worth it.

And after a while of going to the same place to buy mix rice, some of the owners would charge me a little cheaper. There is an uncle who charged me a ridiculously cheap price (I am his regular customer) that I actually have to bargain with him… not to reduce but to increase the price a little because I doubt he is making any profit. He often shrugged it off and say it is okay. Very kind person.

Mix rice dishes

Note: Seriously, the guy charged me RM8 for the 3 dishes above. It is enough for 2 to 3 persons. Even if I were to buy the chicken meat itself would almost be RM6. And that does not include the mushrooms which are quite expensive.

2. More dishes to choose from
I am quite fortunate that I live in an area where there are abundant of food available. There are a few mixed rice stalls where I can rotate. Any self respecting mix rice stall would have more than 10 dishes available.

Mix rice stall dishThe above is just a part of the dishes being offered. The display is too long (with queuing customers) for me to take the entire selection of dishes.

3. Lack of interest in cooking
I can go without sleep when I need to work on a site or while doing research but I will not put out even 10% of the effort to improve cooking. Granted, I was cooking for a couple of months and my cooking did improve. But it is still not good enough to have my family (myself included) looking forward to my dishes.

4. Save time in cleaning up and washing
If you want to keep your house clean, you need to wash the ingredients, pots, pans, cooking utensils, and then after the cooking is done you need to wipe down the counters. This is followed by sweeping and moping the floor as kitchen floors get oily (unless you are just steaming food with no oil involved).

Cooking only take about 15 minutes but the preparation and cleaning would take at least an hour and often more. If I go and tah pau food, it takes me about 30 minutes- I get some exercise walking to pack my food.

When I wanted to grow my blog, I decided to priortize my extra time on my blogs. Since there is not a lot of price difference, I made the decision to pack food from outside.

However, this post would not be balanced if I do not write about the obvious downsides. Most of these are written from my own experience.

Disadvantages of buying food from outside

1. It is more healthier to cook at home
This is almost definitely. When I was growing up, my mom persevered to make homecook food for us each day even though it means that she has to get up before the crack of dawn to cook before going to work. As the result, we seldom feel sick when we were growing up.

You would not use recycled oil (meaning oil that had been reused again and again till it becomes toxic) and wash your vegetables and food more thoroughly before cooking them. I’ve had people commenting to me that they saw with their own eyes how the mix rice seller does not wash the vegetables properly. I’ve also eaten food that I had to spit out because I bit into something that had cockroach smell…. yucks!

And most of the dishes are fried, more salty, contains more sugar and even colouring. Not forgetting the abundance of MSG that would turn me into a zombie after food. But this usually happens when you pack noodles (the soup), chicken rice and heavily spiced item.

Also if you tend to go for food that taste nice, you will find yourself putting on weight even though you did not increase your food portion because of the hidden oil and sugar that often needs to go into making the dish more delicious.

I’ve learned to add in more bland tasting food like steamed tofu and vegetables in my daily dish. And I also try to minimize buying from stalls that like to use tonnes of MSG in their food.

2. It is much cheaper to cook if you need to feed more than 3 persons
My friend told me that it would cost her more than RM100 if she, her husband and 3 kids were to dine out for 2 meals. She find it healthier and more cost effective if she cooks at home… even though she usually got her ingredients from Cold Storage.

You will only pay less if you are eating alone and that also provided you opt for more economical choices like mixed rice.

A lot of families would go out and eat as a family probably once a week and cook on most days of the week.

3. You would get sick/bored of the food selections after a while
No matter how rich the variety of dishes that you can choose from, you would get sick of outside food after a while. We have a number of shop selling a large variety of dishes… sometimes up to 50 dishes to choose from. But you may find yourself getting sick of it and wondered why. Reason being is because if you think about it… out of the 50 dishes, there may be only less than 10 dishes that you like. And if you are picking 2 or 3 dishes per meal, there are not many rotation for your favourite 10 dishes.

After eating outside for a while, sometimes I feel a simple homecooked omelette with baked beans, stir fry vegetables and slow cooker soup to be more mouth watering than the huge variety of heavily flavoured outside food that I could choose from.


During my daily rounds to buy dishes, I have always observed seniors eating quietly by themselves or with their spouse. Most of them have grown up children who are working and some of them stay by themselves. It become easier to just walk to the nearest mix rice stall and have a simple meal. Usually the healthy looking seniors would tend to take steamed or bland tasting food, without much meat. Even when I go to different outlets, I would see this generation of folks here.

There are pros and cons for everything as well as a price to pay. Even though I miss home cooked food (and could have cooked myself), I decided that I need to focus my energy on my goals to build my blogs and write more content. But to maintain our health and prevent ourselves from putting unnecessary weight, we can learn from the older folks who are wise to make smarter food choices… sticking to non fried or oily food and go for food that are more bland.




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