Because we're digging our way out of debt, I've been on a mission to cut corners anywhere I can.
I've made many changes to our household including making our own laundry detergent and liquid hand soap, switching to Ooma for our home phone service, negotiating a discount on cable (only because it's bundled with our Internet; otherwise I'd ditch it all together), and air drying all of our laundry, just to name a few.
While all of these changes have helped us find more money to apply to our debt, without a doubt, the change that saved us the most money has been just saying no to going out to eat.
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Saying No To Eating Out
Three years ago, I LOVED going out to eat. I liked not having to cook and choosing from a wide variety of foods. I liked the relaxation and the experience.
If you would have told me that one day I would almost never go out to eat, I wouldn't have believed you, and I might have even cried a bit. That's how much eating out was ingrained in me. Our family went out to eat at least two to three times a week. (And it's not lost on me that this habit is part of the reason why we have debt to pay off.)
But, one day, we just stopped eating out. Every time we got the check at the restaurant, the experience became less enjoyable. As we watched our credit card balances creep up, I felt guilty about my restaurant habit.
And now, three years later, we eat out less than 6 times a year. It's not hard. I don't miss it. In fact, I actually prefer our food at home to restaurant food.
How To Eat Out Less
If you'd like to cut your restaurant habit, here are some tips to make it easier:
1. Invest in good pots, pans and utensils.
If you don't cook much at home now, you must have the basic materials you need to be able to cook.
2. Be willing to spend a bit more on groceries.
I know, this sounds counter intuitive. After all, you're trying to eat more at home to save money.
However, from personal experience, I can say that part of the reason I loved going out was because I didn't like the food we were making at home. I was trying to scrimp on groceries to have more money to eat out, and couponing netted me things like canned biscuits and soups, which I wasn't incredibly fond of. Spending a bit more to eat foods you like at home can still save you more money than eating out and scrimping on groceries.
3. Find easy to make recipes.
Even though I like cooking, I really hate to spend an hour on a meal just to watch my family devour it in 10 or 15 minutes. Instead, I try to make my time in the kitchen easier. I do this by making double of a recipe and putting the extra serving in the freezer for a fast meal later. (This is my version of fast food now.) I also use the slow cooker–a lot!
4. Find recipes you love.
Thanks to Pinterest, you can find many recipes for the ingredients you have on hand. I use Pinterest every week to find new recipes.
5. Have variety.
There's nothing worse than cooking the same meals week in and week out. Every week try at least one new recipe. You'll appreciate the change of pace.
6. Don't deny yourself completely.
You can still go out. However, make it a special occasion and something you're mindful of, not just the default because you don't have any food prepared at home.
Do you need to kick the eating out habit? If so, what's your biggest challenge?
Or, if you've already kicked the habit, what changes in your finances have you noticed?