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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
(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.
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:
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).
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 !
THE ULTIMATE PRICE COMPARISON SHEET
Download your FREE cheat sheet now!
I won't send you any spam, ever. Promise.