It’s just not true. Yeah, everyone says it but apparently no one has ever tried it. Otherwise they’d know.
I’m talking, of course, about the age-old question of whether it’s cheaper to cook your meals at home or to eat out. It’s a problem that concerns us all, right? In the west, restaurants are almost invariably more expensive, but with street food and cheap cafes, many Asian countries claim to reverse that dynamic.
And it seems like every blogger and travelers and expat in Chiang Mai has bought into the idea that going out to eat is cheaper than cooking at home. This is for two reasons, I think: 1) They’re lazy and want it to be true and 2) No one has actually tried it.
Which isn’t to say that it isn’t cheap to eat out. Restaurants serve curries for 60-100 baht (2-3 USD). Street food (a plate of noodles or a spring roll) is as little as 25-40 baht.
Here is some of the cheap food you can get at the restaurants around the city.
As you can see, the restaurants aren’t exactly bank breaking. It’s simply far cheaper to eat in. There are 4 massive supermarkets within a 10 minute bike ride of our place, and we’re not even that centrally located. Several fruit and veggie markets are likewise strewn across the city. The markets have tons of fresh fruit, veggies, noodles, etc.
Now the price of your home cooking depends greatly on what you are whipping up. If you are making any kind of stir fry or curry or salad or soup, it will be cheaper at home than at the restaurant. Western food will siphon a few more baht, but even Italian or Mexican can be quite cheap. And things like spices, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and chili sauce are ubiquitous and all quite cheap.
Here are some of the meals we’ve made.
Whether you eat at home or at restaurants, Chiang Mai is a pretty awesome place to live. There’s a reason that some 30,000 expats live in Chiang Mai at any given time. And we have to admit that there are a thousand reasons not to cook at home. Maybe you don’t like the taste of your cooking. Perhaps it seems like too big a chore. Possibly you didn’t get an apartment with a kitchen. Valid reasons, all. But let’s please put to rest the idea that it’s cheaper, because that’s just not true.