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7 Stores Where You Can Find Cheaper Meals Than Takeout

Thomas De Wever / Getty Images
Thomas De Wever / Getty Images

The cost of dining out is usually more expensive than cooking at home. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that the typical American household spends $3,639 a year on food away from home — which includes takeout.

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While convenient, takeout isn’t exactly the best way to save money. If you’re trying to cut costs, many stores, like Costco and Publix, offer some great alternatives that are easier on the budget. Many of these options are easy to prepare, too, so you won’t have to spend hours in the kitchen.

Here are seven stores where you can typically find cheaper meals than takeout.

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Costco is known for selling items in bulk. So, as long as you can use what you buy, you can save money throughout the year — even with the $60 annual membership fee.

“Costco is one of the kings of cheap home meals, thanks to its rotisserie chickens,” said Scott Lieberman, founder of Touchdown Money. “A fully cooked bird costs just $4.99, no matter where you are in the U.S. Add a side and some bread, and you can feed a family for around $25.”

If you’re looking for a really cheap meal, check out Costco’s food court. They have a hot dog and drink combo deal for about $1.50. They also have a selection of affordable pizzas.

“Costco has basic pizza choices in that you can opt for cheese or pepperoni,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews. “Getting a takeout pizza for $10 these days can be a rarity, especially a good quality one, but to also get a hot and fresh-made pizza of the sheer size of Costco’s food court pizzas for just $10 is hands down one of the best meal deals you can find.”

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Another store where you can find affordable meals is Walmart. The store already emphasizes savings, but it also has a decent selection of frozen meals that are cheaper than takeout.

“Walmart has long been [a] leader in cost-saving, and it’s one of the top options for takeout alternatives,” said Lieberman. “An already seasoned pork loin and a vegetable medley can usually be bought for under $20, and you’ll have dinner ready in 30 minutes.”

If you have a Walmart Supercenter in your area, don’t just check out their freezer section. Head to their deli section to see what’s on the menu.

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s has a diverse selection of food, including options you might not find at other grocery stores. This means you can still satisfy that specific craving without breaking the bank.

“Trader Joe’s is a great place to shop for prepared foods that are much cheaper than takeout,” said Samantha Landau, consumer expert at TopCashback. “While many basic grocery items are expensive here, they have many frozen dinners and pre-packaged, refrigerated meal options that can save you money compared to takeout.”

For instance, you can pick up Baingan Bharta Roasted Eggplant Curry for under $4. This tasty frozen entre is easy to prepare and far less than even an appetizer at most restaurants.


Like Walmart, Target’s motto is to keep most of its goods at reasonable prices, and that includes its food section.

“From to-go salads with forks included to frozen dinners, Target has some great meal options that are cheaper than takeout,” said Landau. “And if you have a RedCard, you save 5% on your purchase, which can really add up.”

The Asian Style Chopped Salad Kit by Good & Gather costs $4 and can serve as a stand-alone meal or a side. And if salad isn’t quite up your alley, check out Target’s produce section, their bakery, and their deli for other affordable options.


Aldi’s one of those stores that prioritizes cost savings for its customers. So, whether you’re on a strict budget or you just want to cut food costs, check out their selection. It might be a little sparse compared to Walmart or Costco, but you can still find some great options there.

“Trader Joe’s and Aldi are my go-to stores for meals that are more economical than takeout, offering a great mix of quality and affordability,” said Larry Zhong, personal finance expert and Founder of YieldAlley. “These stores focus on private-label goods, so the items are cheaper without compromising on quality, perfect for budget-friendly yet tasty meals.”

Aldi’s selection and prices depend heavily on location. You can check what they have online by inputting your zip code and choosing a store near you. Options range from frozen meals like pot pies, gyros kits, stir-fries, and burritos, to fresh meat, produce, and salads.

Sam’s Club

If you live near a Sam’s Club, check out their selection of ready-to-eat and frozen meals. Like Costco, you’ll need a membership to purchase most things.

“Just like Costco, Sam’s Club features plenty of cheap home meal ideas,” said Lieberman. “Its chicken alfredo checks in at $4 per pound, a price that works with just about any home budget and leaves everyone satisfied.”

For context, a plate of chicken alfredo at Olive Garden costs about $20 and can comfortably feed one or two people.


Last but not least is Publix. This grocery store offers a wide range of high-quality meal options that, while a little pricier than places like Aldi, can still be more cost-effective than takeout.

“As a runner-up, if you happen to be near enough to a Publix store, you can get whole subs for around $10,” said Ramhold. “These tend to be decent sized overall and usually are good for 2 meals, especially when paired with something else on the side.”

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This article originally appeared on 7 Stores Where You Can Find Cheaper Meals Than Takeout