When we create a budget it is smart to include a budget category for “eating out” or “restaurants” since it seems like we are on the go often and eating out is sometimes inevitable.  When it comes time to tighten our budgetary belts one of the easiest budget categories to eliminate is the eating out budget.  Making food at home is much cheaper than eating out for every meal or every dinner.

8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out

8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out

1. Make a Meal Menu.  Print a calendar and fill in every day with a meal.  Leftovers are an excellent choice for the end of the week.  I use a meal menu that has 5 weeks filled out, which is 35 meals.  I have found it easier to have the one menu that can correspond with the monthly calendar.  I am not printing something new every month or brainstorming different ideas.  I have our meal menu in a frame on the wall and I mark off the days with a dry erase marker.  At the end of the five weeks I erase the entire calendar and we start all over.

8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out

2. Grocery Shop Once…for Everything.  Once you have your meal menu planned you can grocery shop for everything you need to purchase.  Make an extensive list of things you will need.  The fewer trips you spend at the store the less money you will spend on impulse buys.

3. Cook Once.  Make all your meals for the week on a Sunday.  You will spend a few hours making all the meals you need and they will make your nights easy.

8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out

4. Create Freezer Meals.  While you are cooking once create freezer meals to store for far away dates.  These freezer meals can be added to a crock pot on a super busy night.

5. Crock Pot Meals help you plan head.  Find some of your favorite crock pot meals and print them.  These are great staples every month of the year.  Slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches taste good every month of the year.

8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out

6. Have a Backup.  We all get busy.  Supplies run out.  Make sure you always have the ingredients for a backup dinner.  Our backup dinners are mac & cheese and chicken nuggets or frozen ravioli with frozen meatballs (both from Aldi).

7. Pre-eat.  If you know you are going to be out and about during a meal time, change your schedule so you eat ahead of time to resist the temptation of fast food.  If you are going to an event around lunch time, eat lunch before you head out the door.

8. Calculate the Cost.  Get out a piece of paper and a pencil or your cell phone and add up the cost of eating out.  Don’t forget the tip if applicable.  Seeing the price of a meal at a restaurant is enough to make you change your mind!

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8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out

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8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out

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8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out 8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out 8 Ways to Avoid Eating Out