Save Money By Not Eating Out | 6 Genius Tricks to Help You Succeed!

We all are looking for ways to save money, and one of the best ways to save a big chunk of change is to cut your food budget in half, especially this time of year if you spent a wee bit too much over the Christmas season.  However, you can REALLY save money by not eating out!

Let's do some quick math:

  • If you eat at a sit down restaurant with a family of 4 you could easily wind up spending $50 – $60.  Let's say you do that once a week.  Now we're looking at around $240 per month.
  • And let's say you hit the drive-thru once a week on a busy night.  Or maybe even twice?
  • That could bring your eating-out total up to $440 a month.

 

One of MANY frugal feasts in our home ~ we ate dinner for just $1.49!

WHAT???

That's right – changing just your family's dining-out habits could save you more cash than if you cut cable AND ditched your cell phone plan! If you want to save money by not eating out – keep reading for some helpful tips I've learned over the years.

reagan

Save Money By Not Eating Out with These 6 Tips

Just eating at home more often could be a HUGE blessing to your family's budget, as well as giving you more time around the table with your favorite people (and you'll eat healthier meals too.)

But you're more likely to succeed if you go into it with a good plan. (Jump in without one and you're more likely to end up stressed out and frustrated.  I have totally been there!)

Here are 6 genius tricks to kick the drive-thru habit, by making eating at home easier and less stressful.

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Tips to Save Money By Not Eating Out

1 .  Start With Simple Goals

Eating at home doesn't have to be overwhelming.  No one is expecting you to turn into Martha Stewart overnight (except maybe yourself.) 😉  

If your main goal is to save money – then just making spaghetti and a salad for dinner is a WIN if you've saved $40 compared to eating out.

As you get used to the routine of cooking at home more often you can surprise your family and yourself with new and more exciting recipes.  Just about everything in life works better when done in baby steps – so don't set yourself up for failure with super crazy expectations. 🙂

menuplan

(print your free menu plan sheet HERE)

2 . Make a Menu Plan

Seriously – this is probably my BEST tip I can give you guys!  If I don't sit down and at least plan out a bare bones menu for the week – I find myself either:

a) Stressing out right before supper time and running around trying to cobble together just… whatever!
b) Running to the the store for that very necessary ingredient I don't have (and of course it's NEVER on sale when you do that…)
c) Giving in to the convenience of the drive thru

I highly recommend Eat At Home for inexpensive menu plans (in fact right now use the code JANUARY to save 30% off these menu plans!)  You can plug in your dietary needs and your family's preferences and it does the work for you. (Great to get you started right away!)  But you can also simply sit your family down and get lots of meal ideas – then plan around those.

Check out this helpful post – 5 Reasons You Need a Menu Plan

3 . Shop the Sales

One of the most effective ways to save money eating at home is to fill your cart with what's on sale at the grocery. 

I like to sit down with the weekly ad and plan my menu around what's cheap that week.  If ground turkey is on sale – we'll plan meals around that.  If it's chicken breast, I'll do some of our favorite chicken dishes.  Great deal on potatoes?  Sounds like a great week for potato soup and loaded baked potatoes!

And even if you don't need them for the week's menu, I recommend always snagging a really good deal on items your family uses a lot. This way when you need them for a later week's meal plan, you've already gotten them for a steal.

Check out our grocery store deals category for specials near you this week – along with coupons you can print out that match each sale.

 

 

4 . Freezer Cooking!

Many of us just don't have the time to spend an hour or two cooking before dinner.  But that doesn't mean you can't still eat at home most nights!

Pick a time once or twice a month after a grocery trip to prep meals for the freezer.  Add all the ingredients to the freezer bag, dicing and measuring as you go, so that one morning when you're rushing out the door you can dump the whole frozen meal into a crockpot and come home to a fantastic dinner.

This is seriously a LIFE SAVER for busy nights!  If you're curious – check out my post:

3 Reasons Freezer Cooking Will Change Your Life.

I did a freezer cooking challenge this summer and it was SUCH a success – you can check it out here ~ I actually just used one of the our fall freezer meals in the crockpot yesterday. 

5 . Try a Time-Saving Gadget

If you need a little extra motivation to give eating at home a real chance – maybe its time to gift yourself a time-saving kitchen gadget!

Many readers have raved about the Instant Pot (which is basically a modern, digital pressure cooker than can cook a whole chicken in about 30 minutes).

I personally am totally and completely in love with my Ninja Multi-Cooker – you can see why here.

And of course the Slow Cooker (or Crock Pot) has been a busy mom's best friend for decades!  Set it up with a meal in the morning, and 8 hours later it's ready to plate.  See lots of my favorite Slow Cooker Recipes here!

If you really want to save money by not eating out – you can.  Just like any worthwhile endeavor, it takes time and planning – but the benefits are so-so BIG!

Besides saving bundles of money, eating at home means my family winds up eating healthier meals and spending more quality time around the dinner table together.  And I think that's worth all kinds of effort on my part!

 

Do you already eat at home most nights?  Please share your tips for making it easier and less stressful! 

Also if you've seen a difference in your budget since eating out less I'd absolutely LOVE to hear about it !

 

 

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Comments

  1. Mary Ann Sloane says:

    How do you ditch your cell phone plan?

  2. RANDEE HUEY says:

    Hi! Where can I find the meal planning/shopping list printable pictured in your post? Thanks!

  3. Amanda Phillimore says:

    Both my husband and I grew up in homes where scratch meals were prepared every day at home and eating out only happened a few times a year. I learned some of the best tricks from my mom and my mother-in-law and have been doing them for 20 years!

    My favorite trick is making mega batches of homemade spaghetti sauce to freeze. We have a second-hand commercial pot that we make about 20 batches in at a time. We buy a #10 cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and cook it with Italian seasoning, hamburger, Italian sausage, garlic, onion, and green peppers. My husband usually takes a Saturday to cook this all day until it’s thick and amazing. We freeze it in containers and put it in the deep freeze. At least one day a week, we have spaghetti and there’s very little prep. We just reheat the sauce and cook spaghetti to go with it. There is a time commitment to make the sauce, but then you have about 20 meals worth.

    My mom also used to make mega-batches of homemade egg noodles. They are SO cheap and easy to make and freeze beautifully. I pull them out to make chicken and noddles, etc.

    At Thanksgiving time, we always buy turkey when it’s on sale. If you take the time to cook one and freeze it in batches, you can pull it out to make casseroles, turkey and noodles, etc.

    My husband and I only get paid at the end if each month, so we have to really think about meal planning when we do our big monthly shopping trip. I try to write out a menu for the month and decide what we need to buy. I always first take stock of what is in the deep freeze first and use that as part of my meal planning. We live in a remote area and a trip to Walmart or big chain grocery store is 55 miles if mountain driving, so we find that we MUST have a list ready to go shopping. I keep a running list on the fridge and we add to it as we run out if things do that we know for sure what we need and try to stick to the list as much as possible.

    When I make a casserole, I try to make two and freeze the second for later.

    I always have a couple if “emergency meals” that I can grab and prepare fast, if things go horribly wrong and we can’t stick to the menu. These could be some chicken strips that can go in the oven or a higher quality frozen pizza. These are splurges if a sort, but if I buy on sale and with a coupon, it’s definitely better than eating out! We rarely use these if we plan we’ll, but there are always those crazy nights when you get home later than planned and just need to feed the kids!

    We buy pork tenderloins when they are on sale and cut them into chops at home and freeze them in meal-sized portions. This will often save you money. We do the same with roasts; we cut them into steaks ourselves.

    A couple times a month, we have eggs for dinner. Sometimes I make a casserole with leftover ham or sausage. Sometimes we just scramble them up quick. Eggs are a cheap source of protein and my kids love them.

    I am a teacher and work full time and I know it’s hard for working parents to find the time to cook from scratch, but once you get into the habit and get organized and plan ahead, it is so worth it.

    • What great tips, Amanda! Thanks so much for taking the time to share! It’s encouraging to hear how you’ve been able to find a system that works for your family! 🙂 Hope you have the very best day!

  4. One of the many things we do to save money on food is something we call “feed the freezer”. We’ll stock up on ingredients at great prices, re-package, if necessary, and then spend a day or two a month (usually a weekend) cooking big. Then we freeze the cooked spahetti sauce, or soup, or burgers to use at a later time. It’s so great to shop from our freezer, instead of having to run to the store!

  5. I have found that even the simplest things can bring great results. Start by cooking 5-10 lbs of hamburger meat and freezing it in 1lb portions. These can be thawed and used for a quick meal of spaghetti, tacos, pizza, casserole, etc. Do the same with chicken. Use whole chickens or your favorite parts. Bake, boil, use a slow cooker, or pressure cooker to cook the chicken, then either portion it and freeze the cooked pieces or debone it first. Don’t forget to keep the broth (and bones to make broth) for soups or flavoring rice and noodles.
    You can work your way up to freezer meals by starting with the meat which usually takes the longest to cook.

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