We use to eat out a lot when I worked full-time! Being a mother, a wife, a housekeeper, a volunteer with various non-profit organizations, and a cook was a lot of work and sometimes overwhelming to me! I used eating out as a very heavy crutch but now we've been able to moderate it a lot better with me being at home!
Not only are over 3/4's of the choices that you have are bad for you, but it is extremely expensive to eat out also! What didn't make any sense, was that I was still purchasing groceries like I would if I were cooking every night! Nuts I tell ya'! We were spending anywhere from $80-$100 per week just eating dinner out...not to mention that my husband and I both ate out for lunch at work which meant another $50 tacked onto the dinner prices! OUCH!
If you haven't done so...keep a log of what you spend on eating out and what you spend on groceries...you will be amazed at the total! You don't have to sacrifice everything but see if there's any wiggle room to cut down on eating out! You would be surprised at how much you can save if you are consciously aware of what you are spending while doing it! Think of it this way...if you cut one night's worth of eating out each week, around $20 for a family of 3, you will save $1040 per year! That number by itself is astonishing!
I became a work-at-home mom back on July 21st! One of my first goals was to get us eating healthier and eating out less frequently! We now limit eating out to once per week and we make it a special family outing...a real treat! Sure, the coupons I receive in the mail and through email weigh heavily on what our choice restaurant is for that week...but my family definitely feels a lot better eating good home cooked food versus hamburgers and french fries! This method actually makes eating out more enjoyable and good tasting (how many of you eat or ate out so much that it all tasted the same no matter what you ordered?)!
So with this in mind...give it a shot! Start out small and just take away the one meal per week! Idea: Take the money that you would have spent on that meal and put it in a special account of your choice! This would make a great "gift" account! You could use this $1040 per year to purchase gifts for family members and friends! Tip: If you start this week...by Christmas next year, you will have 57 weeks worth of money saved up OR $1140 to fund your Christmas presents!
The savings could be used for almost anything...and will be specific to your needs! Need an emergency fund? Want to buy a CD? Anything goes!
If you have an idea or a savings tip for eating out...please let us know and leave a comment! Good Luck!