Burgers: Homemade vs takeout, which is cheaper?
Friday night fake-aways are a Kiwi classic served on dinner tables around the country – with burgers high on the list! Yet how much your fake-aways cost depends on where you shop.
This Friday night, in homes around New Zealand, friends, flatmates and families will be looking for something simple to cook. With a few key ingredients, burgers are among the easiest, and tastiest, takeaway items to replicate at home.
But, as the cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation continue to bite, how much will those key ingredients set you back? Is it even worth cooking burgers yourself, or are you better to buy them from a takeaway joint?
Consumer NZ decided to try and find out.
For the next six weeks, we’ll be choosing a popular meal served on Friday nights around Aotearoa, then surveying our four big supermarkets to see just how much it will set you back to cook a feed for four people.
First up: homemade Kiwi-style burgers.
To make your four burgers
First up, you’ll need mince, cheese and onions. Burger buns, tomatoes, lettuce and at least two sauces are a must. You’ll also need eggs, because what kind of a Kiwiburger would it be without a fried egg to melt the cheese?
Lastly, you’ll need frozen fries, because if you’re not serving your Friday night fake-aways with a few chips on the side, you’re almost definitely doing it wrong.
How we tested supermarket prices
We chose 10 ingredients to go towards our Friday night feast, including brands that were available across all the major supermarkets. This included a six-pack of Tip-Top burger buns, 500gm of premium beef mince, a lettuce, two tomatoes, three onions, Watties tomato sauce, Heinz aioli, a six-pack of free-range eggs, 500gm of Mainland Colby cheese, and a bag of McCain’s frozen beer-battered fries. Supie didn’t stock McCains, so for that order, we got Mr Chips. For the eggs, we chose the cheapest option at each store.
We went online, selecting the supermarkets nearest to my Waterview home in Auckland, and loaded up carts at the big four: Countdown, New World, Pak’nSave and Supie (the online-only grocer is only available in select regions).
What our Friday fake-away price test discovered
We found it pays to shop around. Consumers can save up to $10 at the checkout for the key ingredients needed to make burgers, depending on where you shop.
You could save close to $4 just through savings on three of the key items – a six-pack of free-range eggs ranged between $5–$6.49, a 500gm block of Colby cheese between $8.99–$10.89, and a bottle of tomato sauce $4.50–$5.49.
At Countdown, a single lettuce was $2 more expensive than at Pak’nSave. If you bought your two tomatoes from Countdown, you’d pay $6.40 – more than double what you’d pay at Supie. And if purchased your mince from New World, you’d be paying $4.25 more than if you went to Pak’nSave.
Which supermarket was the cheapest?
In total, New World was the most expensive place to buy your burger ingredients, coming in at $63.20. Next was Countdown at $59.57, followed by Supie at $53.49. The cheapest option was Pak’nSave with a total of $53.33.
Those results would change if delivery costs and bag fees were added.
How does that compare to actual takeaways?
At McDonald’s, four Big Macs, along with drinks, fries and dessert would set you back $60 for the Family Dinner Pack, plus a fee to have your order delivered through DoorDash, one of the company’s delivery partners.
At KFC, four Zinger burgers and four large chips would cost you $91.43, plus a DoorDash delivery fee.
Locally, at the highly regarded Avondale burger joint Lucky Gs, a Smashburger will set you back $11.99 and a large fries $4. To feed four people, that’s a total of $63.96.
(Prices were for the week beginning 21 August 2023.)
Cooking burgers yourself comes with plenty of benefits, including having leftovers to go in the fridge for later, tailoring burgers to family members’ tastes, and knowing exactly what goes in them.
But you’ll also have to do the dishes afterwards. It’s your Friday night: now you know the costs, you can make the call.
Next week, we’ll tally up the cost of the ingredients for lasagne.
We've tested 22 frying pans.
Find the right one for you.