Ah, eating out…
If you’ve been following out budget updates, then you know that eating out is the bane of our budget. We consistently overspend by $1oo or more, and it seems like just when the budget is going swimmingly, something goes wrong (or our willpower gives out) and we give in to our inner laziness. We eat out, and it’s a doozy.
But knowledge is power, and knowing what triggered us to eat out in the past can help us to combat it in the future.
What is it that triggers us?
So, even though I’ve driven how to lower food costs to the ground, let’s take a look at some simple strategies you can employ to curb the temptation to eat out:
Eat before you leave –
This time-tested strategy really works to lower food costs! One of the biggest reasons we run through McDonald’s drive through for chicken nuggets is because the little one is hungry. And we though we had snacks in the diaper bag. But we didn’t. Or we completely forgot the diapers bag. (Be honest parents, you’ve been stranded without diapers before, too)
Eating before you head out, whether it’s to the grocery store, a sporting event, or a family game night, eat a small snack before you head out the door. Aim for filling, nutritious foods, such as a cheese stick, a banana, or a handful of grapes.
Take Cash –
Eating out isn’t exactly convenient when you’ll have to wash dishes to pay for it, now is it. Yes, having someone else prepare delicious food for your and family is awesomely easy. And if you have culinary skills like me, it tastes way better! No dishes to clean up, and they’ll even package up the leftovers for you to take home!
When you head out, take only the cash that you need for the event you’re attending, gas to fill up your car, or whatever you actually need. Take only enough and you won’t even be able to entertain the thought of eating out.
Stash Snacks –
It’s so easy to forget the diaper bag, forget to eat your snack before leaving the house, or any number of slip-ups. One easy way around this is to always carry snacks in your car. In the back of our SUV, there is an in-floor compartment that we use to stow reusable shopping bags, extras diapers, wipes, a change of clothes for the little one, and snacks.
We like to stash things like power bars, shelf-stable fruit “squeezies,” and crackers. Sometimes, we’ll throw a juice box or two back there too, but we try to avoid bottled water, as new research says that chemicals may leech into the water from the plastic bottles when stored in a car. I’ll be honest, I have no idea if that is true, but better safe than sorry.
I’m already getting ready to implement all of these strategies, in hopes of getting our eating out budget under control again. Saving a hundred dollars on eating out is well worth purchasing a few shelf-stable and convenience foods that cost a little more than your normal groceries.
How about you? What strategies do you employ to keep yourself from eating out?
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