Then I found your website. Dias de, Burton E. But restaurant eating is essentially a rip-off and cutting it is a great way to increase your savings rate, as you said. This is great at the race track as a hosing a wreck makes it not burn. My mother a full-time teacher pretty much raised us on frozen fried chicken and Hamburger Helper, so made-from-scratch, feed-a-family weeknight meals are something I had to mostly figure out for myself.
Another go- to for me…Costco frozen veggie burritos Cedar Lane brand, I believe One gram of fat per burrito…accompanied by several Sriracha squirts-has saved me many a trip to the hospital cafeteria! Currently we eat out about twice per month. I like that concept—eating out as an event, not just as a default. Mmmm frozen veggie burritos do sound pretty good! But I love my pizza: These are great tips. My husband and I never enacted a formal eating-out ban, but we eat out drastically less than we used to.
We also had a restaurant meal usually once a week or so, plus happy hours with friends after work several times a month. Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!
Sounds like you two have a good system going with the dinner leftover for lunch! I know, I too shudder to think of how much money we wasted eating out over the years. The frugal is our future: This is my situation! We still eat out way too much but it is something we are actively working on. Great job on paying for eating out just twice in the past 15 months. Do you invite them over?
Has it altered any relationships? Just curious how you mange that. Agreed, I would love to see a post about the social aspect of living the frugal life. Or when someone invites us to see a movie in the theater, or check out a new brewery, or go to a music festival.
Great questions on the socializing aspect of frugality. I think for us, there are a few different factors at play. Our strategy with restaurant invites is to counter with an invite to our home. Another factor for us is that a lot of our friends are frugal as well.
We host board game nights, potlucks, BBQs, etc. I wonder if your ability to do that will change as you become parents and getting your kid to sleep and to stay sleeping becomes a priority. I will be reading with great curiosity as you become parents. We have a wonderfully vibrant community of friends who all had kids at around the same time, and we never eat out together anymore!
We also live in a very high cost of living area. Only three of the families in our friend group have houses big enough to entertain in, so we all take turns hosting dinner at these three houses. We used to do a lot of backpacking together but those days are over for a while.
Sounds cheesy, but it allows us to spend time together being creative, surprising one another, and allows us to expand our culinary skills with one another! We look for fried chicken sandwiches. Mmmm, a fried chicken sandwich sounds pretty tasty to me: Yes to advance prep! FW cooks batches of stuff for us on the weekend to cut down on his weeknight prep time. Makes such a huge difference! In fact, it comes out of our entertainment budget.
A new thing I have tried is mystery shopping. I actually did a shop yesterday at fancy schmancy restaurant. This helps our budget and lets us still enjoy eating out especially at restaurants I would never actually pay their ridiculous prices. I totally just started mystery shopping! This was a great post! I find our eating out goes in fits and spurts. Pre-frugal days, it was a LOT. Then we had kids and at the age of , eating out with children is no fun.
I found that when we are stressed, we tend to do it more often. Eating out is a slippery slope, and my 9 year old would do it all the time and then complain that we NEVER go out. There are challenges though. I cook all the meals. On top of a full time job. We do love the Costco pizza same kind you have for emergency meals.
On the weekend I am ruthlessly prepping for the week. So prepared foods from the grocery store are for sure okay in my house. Added to that, my work schedule just changed and I work until 6 pm 3x a week.
My spouse has a tendency to fall back on eating out. Last week our older son was in camp and he took him out to lunch at least twice. I find that not eating out, however, is a bit isolating. My friends like to eat out a fair bit. So now two of my friends have found each other — they go out together a lot as families , and I feel a bit excluded.
Good luck with the eating out ban! I wish you all the very best! Interested to hear how you handle social occasions involving eating out. Like a good friend is having a going away happy hour or a dear colleague is having a birthday brunch, etc. Works well for us and we get to see our friends without the expense. Hope that helps—feel free to shoot me more questions! Great strategies to cut out the eating out habit!
I find what you said about making sure to have some frozen, pre-made dinners on hand that require minimal prep to be key in not eating out as much. Social obligations kill me! I hear ya on that! The last three years, though, we have really focused on our home cooking and meal planning and now we are at the point where we hate to eat out.
Makes all the difference! We were just visiting friends in Rochester yesterday and ate at a Turkish place for lunch. After a few days of not particularly flavorful food with in the in-laws, having some falafel wraps was definitely, super worth it.
Like the baked goods they are selling in Colorado now? You know, I just put similar post on my start-up blog today — I investigated savings achieved by replacing lunches at the office cantine with homemade food.
It happens to us all! Maybe for you the post-game beers are a budgeted treat, and you cut back in other areas to make up for it. But I bet you could drastically reduce your post-game spending and still get all of the social fun. Maybe bring a snack to eat on the way from the game to the bar? And nurse those beers! That is for a family of five. One major thing we did was focus only on places whee kids eat free.
That was a HUGE savings over paying for two kids meals the youngest only has two teeth so far so she does not get one. My wife just started doing mystery shopping. She jumps on the opportunities to evaluate restaurants.
I do know plenty of folks who just bring a tupperware of food for the little ones to avoid both the ingredients and price of the kids meals. Expense account meals are the best. Thanks so much for entertaining us, while you educate us. LOVE the Frugalhound pics too. Also, in addition to the frozen pizzas, I used to really really try hard to make sure I had leftovers for Friday. I have failed lately, but at least this last Friday we had scrambled egg tacos.
This coming Friday is a date night. So we are paying for a babysitter. That meal was disappointing. The more we cook, the more disappointing meals out are — I noticed that for sure. The cheapest was a quick burger and a free movie my spouse traded blood donation points for movie tix. This Friday I think we are going even cheaper, and will aim for a picnic on the beach. We eat out more than I would like—a few times a month, perhaps.
FP likes to do things like go out to lunch as part of a day trip, patronize the excellent taco place across the street, and order pizza. I try to leave leftovers, crockpot food, pasta salad, etc. I strive for an interesting rotation of easy-to-prepare dinners that Mr. The second part is harder than it sounds!
My mother a full-time teacher pretty much raised us on frozen fried chicken and Hamburger Helper, so made-from-scratch, feed-a-family weeknight meals are something I had to mostly figure out for myself. Instead of precooking and freezing whole dinners, I often freeze components: Then if we keep a couple of boxes of mac and cheese around, we can.
Good call on the pre-prepped dinner components! Love all the great ideas and photos! Food is definitely one of the toughest aspects of my budget. Reducing the urges when out and about seems to be one of my biggest problems. I try to pack food and avoid social hangouts at bars and restaurants. If I do go, I tend to get a water and eat beforehand. That tends to reduce cravings when out and about. Snacking pre-event is definitely key.
Eating out is certainly one of the big unnecessary expenses at our house! But I really like the strategies you guys are using to keep things under control. I second the convenience food too. I like to make batches of pinto bean burgers or bean and cheese burritos to freeze for that very purpose on top of freezing other appropriate leftovers.
I keep thinking that someday I should make a few pizzas and freeze them for this exact purpose…. Love this, thank you. Easy meals for week nights is crucial!
Your comment the other day on the June Expenses post actually inspired me to write this, so thank you: Best of luck to you with your July meal plan.
I totally agree—easy meals on weeknights are the key! We eat out a lot on the weekends. During the week I am good about cooking dinner and then we take the leftovers for lunch. In fact we have a group of us that formed a monthly dinner club this year. On the last weekend of each month one couple will host dinner at their house for the group. Everyone brings along some adult beverages and we have had quite a variety of excellent food. I broke my eating out habit in one not-so-easy step: I had a health crisis.
I can count on two fingers the number of restaurant meals available in the small city where I live that I consider healthy.
The benefits of eating healthful food prepared at home are far more than merely economic! I think health is a fabulous reason not to eat out. I estimate we hit up a restaurant twice a month and takeout maybe twice a month. Your numbers are quite low! Treat meals definitely help! I can make a ginormous pot roast on Sunday and we snack on it all week; we have our own laying hens, so I make deviled eggs by the dozen which turn into quick breakfasts, and my all-time favorite: That pre-cooked burger comes out of the freezer and goes into about a zillion things, my favorite being the pressure cooker with a pound of uncooked pasta, jar of pasta sauce, and one pasta-sauce-jar of water or broth, if I happen to have made some recently.
We definitely need to get our eating out habit under control! I will definitely be working with hubby to apply these steps—especially the emergency meal and zero tolerance tips. I love deviled eggs! And, cooking a huge batch on Sundays is a great technique. We do eat out occasionally, but that amount has been greatly reduced as my cooking skills have improved. I totally agree that having a solid plan and a great set of meals that are quick to prepare is crucial, especially when working a full time job outside of the home.
And I think easy weekday meals are the golden ticket! But, there was a time where we were happy to spend that money. I like when this happens. I do cook about every night husband cooks about 1 night a week. But lots of things can derail that plan which honestly stresses me out. Getting invited to dinner ugh no leftovers! I try to cook in bulk but it always results in about 6 servings max!
I did make 2 gallons of curry once, and we got sick of it. Due to the potatoes, it was not a good freezing candidate. Last month we ate out 3x as a couple one was a fun night with 3 other couples , H got breakfast one day, and lunch another day. That was a high month. Eating out is just easier. It has definitely taken us some time to get into the rhythm of cooking in bulk, etc.
And, having super easy weekday dinners has been a lifesaver too. All about that conscious spending: Before we moved to the country we probably ate out times per week.
Not only is the new house far from a restaurant like a 30 minute drive but it also has a beautiful kitchen. It has turned my husband into a wonderful cook. I can live with it. Now, my husband eats out his lunch most days. I am slowly working on that.
I have asked family to give him a lunch bag for his bday. My goal is to get it to 3 days a week. I am happy to report that this week he gave up going for morning coffee and is packing his own extra tea to heat up at work.
I am more like you — make the rule appear black and white and then when it is reasonable to be grey, be grey! Haha, yes, I like that!
Sometimes there just is a grey area! Especially when you have a greyhound in the home ;. Then I met my husband who was a chef, and loved to go out to eat and try new places. I was shocked at the expense, but we did fall into a habit of going out every weekend. It really makes it a special event when it DOES happen.
Are you just counting that as a travel expense, or was it paid for by someone else? Being married to a chef sounds like an awesome arrangement: You have a good memory—we did eat out in NYC, but it was paid for. We were on an all-expenses paid trip to speak about Frugalwoods at NYU, which was awesome. My kinda travel for sure! Plus, I really loved the opportunity to talk about my favorite thing—frugal living.
I eat out less than two times a month. I basically go out of the office around 5: Nice 9 steps Frugalwoods. Eating out is definitely a financial weak spot for me. Love this list of action steps to take to curb that habit and reduce spending in this area! Thanks for sharing how it works for you guys.. It was a tough one for us to overcome for sure.
The one-month timeframe for testing it out really helped us get the ball rolling. Best of luck to ya: Just had a boiled potato and baked beans along with a small cucumber. This is a great and inspiring article. I know my husband and I have a terrible going out habit that we really need to stop.
We found that the one month timeframe was really effective and not too overwhelming for us. I need this advice right now… but I also need to get my fiance on board… we are both pretty bad with eating out. Thanks for this, hopefully I can get the fiance on board and we can cut some eating out expenses in the next few months. Best of luck to you—I bet you can do it: I usually buy organic and healthy produce all the time but that needs to stop!
Hi Paula—thank you so much for reading! The key for us has been to frugalize all other areas of our groceries so that we can spend the money on lots of produce. I wish you all the very best: Eating out is still one of our weaknesses.
We limit our eating out, and use coupons and other deals, but it still costs. Do the one month trial! We found that timeframe to be very manageable and not too overwhelming. I wish you all the best: Eating at restaurants — even very inexpensive ones — is my biggest weakness.
I think I could do that. We have cut down quite a bit, but still are close to once a week. In addition, I am still eating out close to once a week for lunch sometimes 0 now though! We avoid sit down meals, but order pizza sometimes. The biggest way to cut eating out for us has been access to homegrown beef. We have all sorts of cuts and there is no purpose to eat out when the food at home is going to taste better anyways. So he was told to eat better which cuts a lot of eating out.
We go through spells — we can go a few months with out eating out and other times its 2 or 3 times a week. If I have a plan it will take an act of congress to get me to deviate from my plan — I do not like when things do not go as planned its a fault in many cases….
Yeah, the meal plan definitely saves us from going out too. And hooray for frozen pizza and mac-n-cheese back-ups! We attend three times a week and we often find ourselves stopping for something before our after service.
We are moving in the coming weeks — I happen to be sitting at the airport awaiting my flight back home after a visit to our new location. Church will be 10 minutes from home — we could even walk. But the thing that truly scares me is the abundance of places to eat nearby. We have tended to use meals out for celebrations, but like you noted, we celebrate everything. My goal is to be more explicit and mindful about eating out. I definitely subscribe to your tactic of keeping something easy in the freezer!
Skillet meals and frozen pizzas are my go-tos there. Skillet meals are, again, not healthy, but I usually add additional frozen veggies to them. And, they will do in a pinch. The trap we fall into with eating out is social occasions.
FW can churn out on repeat for weeknights. Would you mind sharing some of your most frugal recipes with us? I am eyeing that caprese salad and hummus. Our Epically Frugal Lunch Recipe. FW about writing up some more: Our favorite emergency food: Boil a bag and put them over greens topped with EVOO and parmesan. Thanks for the tip, neighbor. In fact, we have a slot in our freezer that as far as I can tell is the perfect size, and only useful for storing frozen pizza http: Our other go-to backup meal is instant ramen.
Everybody likes a hot bowl of tasty sodium right? We like to spruce it up with frozen veggies and frozen dumplings; the prep work still only involves boiling water, but it comes out tasting and looking like a complete meal: Haha, I love the frozen pizza slot! If I come home from a long, stressful day which is quite frankly most days the last thing I want to do is stand around the kitchen cooking.
Frugalwoods, I am a 24yr old recent college grad. I currently work at Starbucks and occasionally babysit for a family I used to nanny for. All that to say, I have a question. I feel bad saying no. Maybe I need to buckle down and just commit? But I think you can maximize both if you get a little creative. And your friends will totally understand what you are trying to do.
I admire your frugal eating habits, many of which are adopted in our household as well. Just like you, I would never compromise the quality of the ingredients that go into my cooking. Hence, I try to buy organic and locally grown as much as I can, since we much prefer home cooked meals made with quality ingredients than restaurant food going out reserved for special occasions only, if ever.
I do extend the same principles when it comes to food quality to my dog. Kibble, even grain free, is subpar, albeit cheap and convenient, pet food choice: No wonder my husband and I eat out all the time! We seldom eat out expense, plus watching what we eat. Also, in the summer when we grill out, I always fill the grill. Then, I take each food and portion it out into meal-size portions, wrap it in saran and aluminum foil, label it, and freeze. When it comes dinner time, I just yank out a pre-cooked meat, nuke it min.
I love to cook, just not every night. And instead of jarred spaghetti sauce high in sodium and sugars , I just cut up some veggies, saute for min.
Add parmesan to thicken, and voila—homemade sauce in under 10 min. Tastes better and better for you and WAY cheaper. You can cook and large pot of regular rice, strain, portion and freeze. Tastes as if you just cooked it and saves lots of time. I am finding that month 2 of cooking meals in is getting to me. The first month was a game — wow we went this long without eating out.
What do you do when you hit those moments of throwing in the towel? I would and could never be cheap. Sorry, just bad form. I think some meal-planning tips are really all I need. Checking out a new place is exciting.
Like I said, my motivation is health. Some of your tips are helpful. Mostly, I find are too cheap a lifestyle for me. Unless you are eating at very high-end restaurants or are eating very simple foods when you eat out, there is a VERY good chance that you are eating food that is very heavily processed.
It might be true for some things, like seafood. Just found your blog. Fortunately for WLR members this approach is nothing new and for those of you that enter your food diaries regularly you will see your own results speak for themselves. The Weight Watchers Flex and SmartPoints system is showing signs of a faddy diet , not helped by the degree of secrecy.
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