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Going out to eat is one of the biggest budget busters of our generation. We simply don’t have the time to make elaborate dinners every night! Some of us were never taught to cook, and so eating out takes way less time than cooking (and it usually tastes better.)
But eating out is terrible on the wallet. For whatever reason, we balk at spending $10 on a 2 pound package of ground beef at the store, but a quick fast food meal for two at around $18 is no big deal.
It is a big deal though, especially when going out to eat becomes a habit. It adds up fast!
(One great way to see how much you’re spending on eating out each month is by using my highlighter budgeting method. You already know you’re spending too much on food, but you may be surprised just how high that number actually is.)
The biggest reason we go out to eat so much is because it’s easy. Cooking is messy and time consuming, and at the end of a long day dinner is the last thing we want to tackle.
So how do we stop going out to eat so much? Make cooking at home way more convenient!
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Try New Recipes
It’s easy to get into a rut of cooking the same thing over and over again. When you’re tired of eating the same old thing it’s much more appealing to go out to eat.
So try cooking a new recipe every now and then. Experiment with different spices, ingredients you’ve never used, or something you’ve always wanted to try but never got around to it. You might spend a little more at the grocery store but it’ll still be way cheaper than dining out for that meal.
Check out my budget friendly meal plans board on Pinterest for some recipe inspiration!
Use a Meal Subscription Service
Meal delivery services like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, etc. are a super cool way to have more fun in the kitchen. Getting a box is an easy way to try to try out a new recipe and learn how to cook better at the same time.
The biggest downside here is of course the cost. Full price, you can expect to pay up to $9 a serving, so it will cost you about the same as going out to eat (although still cheaper than a meal at a full-service restaurant.) The good news is though, these companies often run specials for new customers and you can get really good savings.
I recently took advantage of HelloFresh’s “friends and family sale” and paid only $25 for three meals for me and my husband! That’s still more expensive than cheap meals like spaghetti, but it’s way cheaper than restaurant meals, and the taste is seriously just as good. I was highly impressed with their food.
even my baby loves HelloFresh 😉
Keep Easy Meals in the Freezer/Pantry
Make it more convenient to eat at home than it is to eat out. If you’re running to grab something to eat just because it seems easier than cooking that night, start keeping a few meal options you can make in just a handful of minutes.
How much time does it take to load up the kids, drive to the restaurant, wait in line, then finally make it back home to eat? It may seem easier at first to go grab something, but it’s probably actually quicker to whip something up at home.
Some quick dinner ideas with ingredients you probably already have: tacos, spaghetti, frozen pizza, pre-made dinners such as beef tips, breakfast for dinner, salads, and sandwiches.
Rethink Going Out to Eat as Something Special
My dad says he doesn’t remember eating out hardly ever growing up. It really seems like eating out all the time is something families just didn’t use to do.
What if we start thinking of going out to eat as something special again? If we can save dining out for special occasions, I bet we’ll enjoy it even more. When it becomes something special, going out to eat will be something your family looks forward to because you know you don’t get to do it all the time. You know that phrase about too much of a good thing? That’s what I’m talking about here.
How to Break the Eating Out Addiction
I hope this post has showed you some practical tips to stop eating out so much. I still love restaurants, but these tips have helped me to break the eating out addiction in my own life.
If you’re serious about getting out of debt, saving money, and sticking to a budget, then learning how to stop eating out is a huge step to getting there!
What tips do you have? Let me know down in the comments!