Waiting in the line for Olive garden I witnessed atleast ten groups of people marching outside, all of whom had a take out bag with them.
The financial part of me started thinking about the comparative costs of take-outs, dine-in or the to-gos.
A typical dinner menu at a restaurant like Olive garden varies from around $11-$12 to around $20 . This might not include appetizers based on what you chose. For an average price of $15 with taxes and tip we round up around $36 for a dinner for two.
If you take do take left overs home and use it as next days lunch it counts for $36 /4 which on an average is $9 per person which is not that bad. However if your intention is to cover next day's meal with the leftovers then this is not a bad choice unless ofcourse you are too hungry or your whole intention was to spend time together and did not care about take-out.
On the other hand if you go for a buffett at a restaurant at night the pitfall is you pay the price pretty much for that meal and cannot take-out. That being said specials like the Sweet Tomatoes deals for $8.79 dinner specials still end up around the $9-10 average per meal.
Can take-outs be cheaper? Answer is it depends. If you already have some food and want something more substantial to make a meal,say like left over curry, combind with the fact that you want to watch a favourite movie at home then yes it makes sense to take out. Moneywise you might save tip if you are the kind who does not tip take outs.
This is ofcourse comparing restaurants of reasonably similar standards and not comparing fast-food or subway type of food outlets.
Ofcourse at the end it depends where you are comfortable and would like to eat.