Innovative Ideas For How To Stop Eating Out So Much

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I struggled for years with how to get my husband to stop eating out so much. Occasionally, I’d get him on board with the idea of eating at home more, but it never lasted long. 

My husband always insisted eating out was his stress reliever after a long day of work.  When he’d have a bad day at work, even if we had a meal planned, he’d insist on eating out.

We went to a sit-down restaurant 2-3 times a week and my husband bought lunch all 5 work days he went into the office. I always knew my family spent too much on eating out but holy smokes, when I did the math the monthly expenditure was jaw-dropping. 

We constantly argued about this area of our life.  It was exhausting! Needless to say, figuring out how to stop eating out so much was not an easy task.

How the Joy of Eating Out Became a Chore

When we were young and didn’t have children, I enjoyed going out to eat.  In the beginning, it was exciting as we often tried new and exotic cuisines.  A taste of Ethiopia or Spain or Japan every few days added a flavor of richness to our lives.  

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Over time, the glamour and excitement of eating out wore off. Instead, we found ourselves frequenting the same restaurants every week. 

We ate out so much that we found ourselves asking the other one, “Weren’t we just there a few days ago?”  There was an unspoken rule between us to not visit the same restaurant twice in one week.  How ridiculous is that?!?

Let’s fast forward a bit to having a toddler in tow with us when we went out.  Our son was always very good at restaurants but the trip to and from the restaurant along with the time it took for food to come on a week night was brutal.  Getting our son to bed by 8:30 some nights was next to impossible.

This vicious cycle continued even after having a second child. It wasn’t until we decided to get serious with our finances that we started making changes.

Before we even started tracking our expenses (which I highly recommend to anyone who’s interested in saving money) we knew we had to cut down on eating out.  For my husband, this meant taking lunch to work and for our family, it meant making dinner most nights.  This was going to be a HUGE adjustment…so we thought.

How We Stopped Eating Out So Much

#1 – Make Taking Lunch to Work Simple

We take the train into the office and while my husband had a laptop bag he didn’t have a bag convenient for carrying lunch.  First thing we did was go out and buy him a proper bag to carry his laptop and lunch in. 

We spent $70 on the bag at a local store and in less than 2 weeks the savings from not eating lunch out every day had paid for itself.  My husband was not exactly excited about this idea, but he was willing to try it with our new goal in mind.  

The key was to make it as seamless and easy as possible.  His lunch is packed and ready for him to grab from the fridge every morning.  All he needs to do is reach in and grab it. 

#2 – Breaking Through the Mental Roadblock

Next, my husband had to get past his mental block that eating out was the only way to make him happy at the end of a long day.  When I asked him how he did this he said the idea of saving more money for a better retirement someday really appealed to him.  

Initially, we decided we’d still eat out once a week since we enjoy it. Plus, this change isn’t about sacrificing our happiness now for a better tomorrow.

Rather, this change is about enjoying today while planning better for tomorrow.  It didn’t take my husband long to see the benefits of eating at home and strangely he’s even considering eating out only twice a month now. 

#3 – Creating a Meal Plan

Obviously, we had to start eating dinner at home more often and we needed a good plan to make this work.  We had several meals we enjoyed cooking and eating that we’d rotate through when we made the effort to cook. 

I started writing down the names to these meals as they popped into my head – I couldn’t think of more than 3-4 to start with.  After a few days, I had about 10 easy to cook meals on my list that we enjoyed. 

This provided enough variety for 6 nights per week to get started.  To save ourselves time and not get burnt out we decided to double up a few recipes each week, so we would have dinner for two nights or food for lunch.  With this plan, 10 meal options were plenty. 

#4 – Create a Grocery List

I created an excel sheet and wrote down what ingredients I would need for each of the meals.  I also created a list of the essential items we keep in our fridge on a regular basis, like eggs, milk and coffee creamer. 

Now every Saturday morning we decide what meals we’re going to eat during the week. Then, I create a list of all the items we’ll need based off the recipes and essential item lists.  This takes less than 30 minutes and is a huge time savings when I consider the number of trips to the grocery store we averaged per week before. 

How To Stop Eating Out So Much And Save Time

Because we had no meals planned we would go to the grocery store and buy items as we needed them.  This often meant 3 trips to the grocery store during the week and maybe 2 on the weekend. 

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Less Time Wasted Grocery Shopping

The trip to and from the closest store to us is about 10 minutes.  Standing in line to buy the groceries easily take 5 minutes or more.  This means each trip to the grocery stores costs us 15 minutes or more. 

We now visit 2 grocery stores on the weekend and avoid the grocery store during the week.  We went from 5 visits a week to the grocery store down to 2, saving us over 45 minutes each week.  This is huge for me since I can never seem to find enough time in the day to accomplish everything I want to.

In the past, it was easy to convince ourselves to eat out since we had no meal planned but those days are a thing of the past.  We are now much better prepared.  Cooking dinner at home is so less stressful for me and adds valuable time back into my day. 

Time Gained Not Traveling to Restaurants

Eating out takes us about 1.5 hours door to door; 30 minutes getting to and from a restaurant and an hour there.  Cooking dinner at home takes 1 hour; about 30 minutes to cook, 15 minutes to eat and another 15 minutes to clean up. 

We’re doubling up recipes, so we only need to cook 4 days each week (some leftovers are dinner, others are lunch).  This is the same numbers of days we used to cook at home.  The difference is for 2 nights a week we just warm up leftovers now rather than go to a restaurant. 

On leftover nights, dinner takes 30 minutes to warm up, eat and clean up – saving us 1 hour each night compared to the 1.5 hours going to a restaurant would take.  That means we’re saving 2 hours each week plus the 45 minutes we’re saving from less grocery trips.  Amazing! 

I never even considered how much time planning out my meals and eating dinner at home could save me.  For a life style change that started off as a way to save money, ironically the true benefit for me wasn’t even in the monetary savings. 

Another huge bonus to eating at home is my 7-year-old is happy to help me in the kitchen when I ask.  He’s learning a new skill and I get to reach over and kiss him whenever I want.  All too soon, I’m sure he’ll start saying, “Ew, gross!” to my kisses, so I have to get them in now while I still can. 

How To Stop Eating Out So Much And Save Money

Buckle up and be prepared to be horrified by how much money my family used to spend eating out.  For a family of 4, we spent about $600 last month in groceries and ate out about 5 times. 

That’s roughly $20 per day in groceries for our family of 4. For simplicity I’m going to assume we would have spent $13 eating dinner at home – dinner tends to cost more than breakfast and lunch. If we ate at home every day that month our monthly grocery budget would have been about $665 (($13 x 5) + $600).

Cost of Eating Dinner at a Restaurant

On days we eat dinner out, it cost us about $60.  So, that means every day we eat dinner at a restaurant we spend $47 ($60 eating out – $13 eating at home) more then we would have if we had cooked dinner at home. 

We used to eat dinner out 3 times a week or roughly 12 days each month (4 weeks x 3 days). Now we only eat out 4 times in a month. That means we are saving roughly $376 ($47 x 8 less visits to restaurants) every month. 

Cost Of Buying Lunch at Work

Let’s not forget my husband is taking lunch to work every day instead of buying it.  We’ll factor in vacation / holidays and assume he works in the office 20 days each month. 

He insists he was spending on average $11 on lunch each day (we live in a metropolitan city)…gulp!  The cost of lunch was included in the $600 we spent last month on food. So, we’re now saving $220 ($11 x 20 days) each month not buying lunch at work.

Total Savings From Eating At Home

Total savings each month is about $600 ($400 for dinner and $200 for lunch). Each year that equates to $7,200 in savings.  That is an incredible amount of money.

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Conclusion On How To Stop Eating Out So Much

Hopefully, you have a few good ideas now on how to stop eating out so much. Not having enough time to cook dinner should no longer be an excuse to eat out each night. You need to re-think your week and plan ahead for what is to come so you have dinner ready to go each night.

Don’t delay.  Take action now. Start putting steps into place that will help you be successful with how to stop eating out so much. Sign up for our newsletter to continue getting tips for saving money.

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