How to Stop Eating Out So Much
Hamburgers, Fish, Chicken, Mexican, Tacos, Steaks, Sandwiches…and the list goes on. So many fast food choices! Why did these restaurants build so close to the road? Now adults have to make a daily decision about what they want to eat for lunch, where they want to eat, and if they can afford to eat out or not!! Yes, I am joking a little bit here- just a little! 😉
My family just went through January NOT eating out. We decided to have a month with no fast food or restaurant dining. And we survived! It really was not bad at all.
After looking over our credit card statements for the past few months, we saw a large chunk of money spent on eating out. Most of the time we were eating out twice a week. That adds up fast!
It cost us around $50 total, at a minimum, for us to eat out. Multiply $50 twice a week ($100 a week) by four weeks a month. That’s $400 a month we were spending eating out!! Yikes! And this amount is not including buying groceries.
I will pause for just a moment and let you gasp–because I did when I realized what we had been spending on eating out each month.
This wasn’t counting the times we would grab something fast for lunch, or run grab a bite before church, pick up something quick while running errands, and so on.
Just think about how much money we could save in a year if we chose not to eat out each month. Now and then it is fine, but twice a week…
Time for a change!
We had to make a change. We agreed on a challenge and decided January would be a “NO” eat out month and we stuck to it. There were some nights, after getting in later than usual, we ate leftovers and some simple meals.
But we have to eat…
Food is a necessity, and my family likes to eat dinner every night, so fasting was entirely out of the question! 🙂 I love to cook so this was not a difficult challenge for me. It did take some planning ahead on some meals, but for the most part, it wasn’t hard at all to make it through the month. A few nights we had soup and grilled cheese, breakfast for supper, or a sandwich. And it was okay! Our bellies were just as full as if we had eaten out, and our wallet wasn’t empty.
How to make eating at home NOT boring
To make this a successful month, I asked my family for suggestions on meal ideas. They picked some of their favorite meals for me to cook at night.
Cooking at home doesn’t have to be time-consuming. If you plan ahead, you can have a meal on the table in 30-45 minutes most nights.
I have talked to some people, and they think cooking at home is more expensive than eating out. How? Cooking at home doesn’t have to be costly. You don’t have to prepare a five-course meal with lobster and steak– although that would be delicious!
When short on time, grilled cheese and soup is always a good choice, open your freezer and pantry and let your imagination run wild.
Here are a few ideas and tips to help make eating at home successful for your family.
Use your slow cooker
This is my favorite appliance in my kitchen. Just dump everything into the bowl in the morning and let it do the work for you. Dinner will be waiting for you when you get home.
Plan your meals
You don’t have to be fancy with meal planning or have complicated recipes. Keep it simple. You can fix burgers and fries, or even homemade pizza. I’m sure this will score big with your teenager!
Print out a monthly calendar and fill in each day with a dinner idea. Check your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator for items needed for each meal. Cross off what you have on hand and grocery shop for the rest of the items. Look at your calendar daily and prepare as needed for the next meal.
Make freezer meals
I need to do more of this. Freezer meals are fabulous to have on hand. Grab one out of the freezer the night before and place in the refrigerator. It can thaw during the day and will be ready for the oven when you get home. Here are a few ideas for freezer meals. My goal one day! 🙂
Tuscan Pasta by Six Sisters
Chicken, Broccoli, Bacon, and Potato by Kylee Cooks
Homemade Pizza by Intentional By Grace
We have leftovers at least once a week. Usually, this falls on Wednesday nights after church. Just reheat and serve.
Prepare quick meals
Pasta, grilled cheese, soup, sloppy joes, or even a salad can be prepared relatively fast. Having a well-stocked pantry helps. This goes back to meal planning.
Prep on the weekends
I am not good at doing this. But, if you like to get ahead, prepping on the weekends can save you lots of time in the kitchen during the week. Some people prep their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the whole week. They even have them wrapped, in bowls, and ready to go. Wow, that’s impressive to me. 🙂
Meal Prep Tips by The Bewitchin Kitchen
Eat dinner with friends
Plan a few nights during the month to have friends over for dinner. Make it fun! Have them bring a side dish or a dessert. Grill out, sit by a fire, talk. Use paper plates if you don’t want to worry about clean up. Sometimes we take the smallest and simplest things for granted. Enjoy your family and friends. You may find this is a whole lot better and more relaxed than going to a restaurant.
Slow down for meal time
In todays world we don’t take the time to slow down. We just go, go, and go! We need everything now and fast. But, when you eat at home it takes slowing down to plan and prepare a meal. Get your family involved. Let someone make a salad, prepare a side dish, grill the meat, or fix a dessert. This is a great time for family conversations.
After dinner clean up
I’ll be the first to admit–I HATE to clean up the kitchen after dinner. I mean- I just spent an hour preparing dinner and now I have to clean up…really?? This would be a great time to train your children to clean up. Get them involved in loading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, washing pots and pans, and wiping down the table. Even small children can help with some of the task of cleaning up. Don’t be afraid of using paper plates some nights. I am guilty of this- especially when I have had a long day and clean up is not on my list of things to do.
Try it for a month and Take the 30 Day Challenge
Eating at home for the whole month was not difficult for us. It took a little planning ahead, but in the end, it was worth it. We not only saved about $400, but we also ate healthier foods.
We are planning on having more “Eat at Home” months this year. Are you up for the challenge?
If you decide to take the monthly challenge, let me know your outcome and tips.
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