Is Indian Food Cheap To Cook?

Cooking for your family on a limited food budget can be challenging, especially nowadays. So, should you consider cooking Indian food?  Is Indian food cheap to cook at home?

Not only does Indian food taste and smell amazing but most curries are cheap to make and can last several days in the refrigerator.  Once you have bought all the spices, the average lentil curry can cost around $3-$4, the average vegetable curry can cost around $4-$5 and the average meat curry can cost around $5-$10.  And each curry can feed your family up to 4 days depending on the size of your family.

Restaurant table setting

If you have ever eaten in an Indian restaurant or got an Indian takeaway you will know that Indian food can be very pricey.

However, you would be surprised how much you can save if you were to cook your own Indian food at home.

Cooking your Indian food at home will not only keep more money in your pockets but it can also be refrigerated and eaten up to 3-4 days after being cooked depending on the curry.

The best thing about cooking your curries at home is that you know exactly what is in them and you can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste buds.  Oh, and have I mentioned it is cheaper!

Why Are Curries Expensive in Indian Restaurants?

I approached one of my close friends with this question who owns his own restaurant and has worked as a head chef in some of the best-known restaurants for over 20 years. 

His answer was “to pay the bills and make a time-worthy profit”. 

If you think about it, a restaurant like any other business needs to bring in enough income to cover all its bills, pay the salaries, rent, insurance etc etc and on top of that, still make a profit.

For this reason, eating out in a restaurant can cost a lot of money.

So why are we talking about how much it costs to eat out? simple, so we can know how much cheaper it is to cook Indian food at home and how much we can save.

A few years ago, we were in Seattle visiting my wife’s family and decided to take the family out for an Indian meal, totally my wife’s idea, she loves Indian food more than I do and she’s American and I’m Indian well half lol.

The prices ranged between $10 -$18 per curry as you can see it is pricey to eat out.

Why Is Indian Food Cheap To Cook?

Basically, once you have bought all the spices that are needed to make a curry, they can be used to make multiple curries depending on the size you bought.

For example, if you buy a jar of Garam Masala (one of the main spices) which costs $8.99 for 85 grams and for each curry you use 1 teaspoon which is 4.2 grams it can be used to make 20 curries.

Not forgetting that a curry can last up to 3-4 days depending on the portion size you cook, which means less time in the kitchen cooking. 

Even if you can’t finish a large portion of curry in time before it goes off, most Indian curries can be frozen.

So as you can see it’s a win win situation.

What Are the Ingredients Needed For Indian Cooking?

The secret between a good Indian curry and a GREAT Indian curry is fresh ingredients.  Use fresh ingredients whenever possible.

So , lets look at what we need to cook Indian food at home.

  • Spices (jars & packets) – used to make the gravy (masala)
    • Garam Masala
    • Turmeric
    • Red Chili Powder
    • Curry Powder (optional but great for extra taste)
    • Cumin Seeds
  • Fresh Ingredients
    • Cilantro
    • Onions
    • Ginger
    • Garlic
    • Green Chilies
    • Tomatoes
  • Other
    • Oil
    • Salt

These are all the main ingredients needed to start cooking your own Indian food at home and save money.

How Much Does It Cost To Make A Curry At Home?

One thing that most curries have in common is the way the gravy (masala) is made.  To make a traditional curry we need all the above spices and ingredients.

Prices will vary depending on where you are located.  I looked on Amazon for prices to get a reference point.

The table below is a rough idea how much it costs for the spices to make a curry that could feed a family of 4 for 3 days.

Garam Masala (85g)$8.99$0.44
Turmeric (400g)$5.00$0.05
Red Chili Powder (200g)$5.00$0.10
Curry Powder (85g)$3.00$0.15
Cumin Seeds (450g)$10.00$0.18

As you can see the total cost for the spices for a curry that feeds a family of 4 for 3 days is $0.92.

On top of this you will add the remaining ingredients

  • Cilantro – bunch
  • Onions – x3
  • Ginger – 2 inches
  • Garlic – Half a clove
  • Green Chilies
  • Tomatoes – x3
  • Oil – 4 tbsp
  • Salt – 2tsp
  • Main Ingredient (Chicken/Cauliflower/Legume/Paneer etc.)

As you can see, most of the remaining ingredients you would probably have in your kitchen. 

Once you have purchased all the spices you could make a lentil curry for around $3-$4, a vegetable curry for around $4-$5 and meat curry for around $5-$10.

So, if compare the prices in an Indian restaurant to cooking a curry at home you can see how much of a difference there is.

Your typical Chicken Curry in a restaurant would cost you around $13 for one serving whereas if you were to cook one at home it would cost you around $7 AND it would be enough to eat for 3 days.

Final Thoughts

Is Indian food cheap to cook? Absolutely.

Once you have purchased all the spices then you are good to go.  Indian spices have a long expiry date, so, you do not need to worry about them going off.

The spices can easily be used for non-Indian dishes.

I hope this article has given you an idea of how cheap it is to cook Indian food at home.

If you have any questions or any tips when it comes to Indian food, please share them in the comments.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.