A few years ago one of the recurring expenses I saw on my bank statements was restaurant charges. Yes, lots of restaurant charges! Have you had to break the habit of eating out? I won’t even go into how I got here, all I know is that I made a concerted effort to reduce this amount. Eating out is definitely a money sucker for me and my goal is to get this aspect of my finances aligned with my overall financial goals.
The Cost of Eating Out
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report detailing the jump in the cost of food. Restaurant prices have increased by 5.8% since the beginning of 2021, which is the highest 12-month increase since 1982. And grocery shopping got more expensive this year as well, with the overall cost rising by 6.4%, which is the largest 12-month jump since 2008. As experts predicted, the cost of beef has risen the most, with a 20.9% jump. Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that consumer price inflation for goods across the board has risen by 6.8%.
No doubt eating out is always easier than cooking your own meal. It’s also way more expensive. Below are a few tips to use to break the habit of eating out.
Make Small Changes
As with any lifestyle change, the key to lasting success is to take small steps. Start by gradually cutting out lunches at your favorite restaurant and by avoiding your regular pit stop to grab a specialty coffee on your way to work from here on out. Alternatively, start by packing lunch for four days out of five. Each subsequent week, do a little more. Pretty soon, you’ll find that eating out is the exception rather than the rule.
One of the main reasons to set parameters is it helps you to keep your ‘why’ as a motivator. If it is for financial reasons, what would be a more reasonable amount of money to spend on eating out each month and how many meals does that realistically allow you to treat yourself to?
Plan Your Meals
Planning out your meals for the week is the number one way to start saving money on food. With a solid day-by-day meal plan, you won’t be left in a lurch wondering what to eat and you will be way less tempted to eat out.
Being unprepared for workweek lunches can turn out to be a costly mistake, but it is one that is so easy to circumvent! In fact, it was my first step in learning how to stop eating out at restaurants. The incredible amount of savings I realized persuaded me to eat out less and make more meals at home.
Keep A Budget
If you want to stop spending money on eating out, then start budgeting your food expenses.
A budget is a fantastic tool that helps you spend your money more wisely. In your budget, you get to dictate how much money gets spent on what, and that includes what gets spent at restaurants and what goes into your savings account.
Get the Family Involved
Families often struggle with eating out too much. Busy schedules, picky eaters, and pure exhaustion are the top contributing factors. When everyone is involved in menu planning, not only can you reduce the number of times you eat out a week, but you can also have a lot of fun!
Once everyone is on board with the overall plan, getting everyone to help in the kitchen might be a little bit easier.
Plan More Frequent Grocery Trips
Always have the food you need at home to prepare a meal. If you do not use grocery items such as produce and milk, consider shopping more often in smaller quantities. you may need to make more frequent trips to the store, but you’ll end up wasting less food and spending less money in the long run.
Learn Some Quick Meals
Always have some quick meal ideas for those evenings when you’re exhausted from work and tempted to order food. Avoid recipes that have a long list of obscure ingredients and had complicated instructions.
Plan exactly what you can rustle up in 15-20 minutes.
Allow Yourself a Treat
One way to stop eating out at restaurants is to allow yourself to have it, but within your set limits. Easing out of eating out all the time might have a longer-lasting effect than completely cutting the cord.
If you are getting takeaway or delivery 6 nights a week, cutting it off completely might be too much to take at first. Instead, in the first month, commit to cutting the number of times you eat out in half and stick to it.
Eating out is an expensive habit and, expensive habits can be hard to get rid of. Can you break the habit? The steps above are a good starting place to help you to kick this habit. These include planning your meals, cooking at home, and getting the family on board.
What are your strategies to break the habit?