Doing this one thing could save you HUNDREDS of dollars every month

We are all looking for a way to save money, and a significant amount at that.

save hundreds every month

There is one thing that can save you hundreds of dollars every month. When I tell you you might not believe me, but please, stick with reading the post and you may change your mind by the end.

Are you ready for it?

The one thing that could save you hundreds of dollars is preparing all your food at home.

Hear me out for a minute.

How many times do you eat out every month? Now, how many times do you grab a coffee through a drive thru? Grab a snack for the kids through a drive thru? Grab pizza on the way home?

While there are going to be some people who really, truly rarely eat out, most of us would probably have to admit we get food out on the go a little more than we’d like.

It’s understandable, because life has gotten so busy over the years. We are constantly on the go and I don’t know about you, but when my family gets “hangry” it’s not a good situation.

However, we often don’t think we spend as much as we do on eating out. You may be thinking “okay, sure, I could cut eating out, but that won’t save me hundreds.”

Possibly.

But then again, it might.

I encourage you, for one month to track ALL your eating out expenses. This includes coffee, snacks, lunch, pizza – anything that doesn’t come from the grocery store. Actually, you can even grab already prepared food at the grocery store like whole chickens already cooked for you, etc. That would count as eating out so make sure you include that.

Track it for 30 days and then add up your total.

I think many of us would cringe at the number.

I’ll share with you where we get out of hand sometimes, and then have to reign it back in. Because we have kids it is very easy to grab pizza on the way home. We can get a medium pizza here for $5.99 which is a pretty good deal. We get two, so that is about 12 dollars, not including taxes.

Because its lot cheaper than many other places it’s easier for us to justify. But when you do it too often it adds up. If we did pizza every week, only once, that’s 50 dollars alone. Just for pizza!

That doesn’t include the times my husband falls into the temptation of the stuffed crust or deep dish pizza (he really LOVES good quality pizza. 😉 ) . So then that brings our regular 12 dollar pizza up even more.

The good news is that most of the time we don’t buy pizza every week. But sometimes life gets in the way and we find ourselves hitting up the pizza place way too often.

And that’s when we need to stop and think about what we are doing. Because if our goal is to save some money, eating out like that isn’t going to get us there.

The bureau of labour statistics reports that the average American spends $3,008 on eating out a year. That’s a statistic from 2017 as well so I’m sure it’s even gone up a little bit. Can you imagine what you could do with an extra $3,008 a year?

You could finally take that trip.

You could pay down some debt.

You could build up a healthy emergency fund.

BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN FRIENDS WANT YOU TO GO OUT

Eating out is the thing to do with friends. It’s enjoyable, and people love to get together and eat food. But here’s the thing – people love to get together to eat food no matter WHERE that is.

That means you could have a potluck at your house, or invite friends over for coffee. You can even make fancy type coffee at home. I love to make my pumpkin latte for a fraction of the price I would pay at the coffee shop.

Chances are you are not going to swear off eating out. I get it because I am in the same boat. My husband and I are foodies. We enjoy eating out. However, eating out should be a rare treat, and not a weekly occurrence. Anymore than once a month just isn’t great for the budget. For our family of 5, on our income once a month is really too much.

Heck, if you have a family and go to a sit down restaurant, once a month alone can cost you around $70 dollars (ask me how I know!). That means just two trips of eating out each month could cost us almost $150 dollars.  By three times we’ve crossed the $200 dollar mark.  and that doesn’t include trips for coffee in between or lunches for work if we did that kind of thing (which thankfully, we don’t.)

Our family goes to a sit down restaurant probably every few months. We enjoy the treat, but we know if we went more frequently it would be detrimental to our budget. We tend to go more often for special occasions (though, as you read up above, we buy a little too much pizza to go!)

When you do go eat out, there are some things you can do to save money.

Order water. Drinks in the restaurants are so expensive.

If you have kids find a place where kids eat free.

Go out for lunch instead of dinner. The lunch menu is usually cheaper.

Skip the appetizers and dessert. Usually the meals at a restaurant are more than enough to fill you anyways. I never have room for dessert!

Go to a less expensive restaurant. When it comes to the prices in restaurants, they range all across the board. Find a place that isn’t too expensive. You can usually find the menus online now with prices.

Use coupons. Sometimes restaurants will have coupons available.

HOW TO AVOID EATING OUT AS MUCH

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So, maybe you have decided you do need to cut back on eating out. Or maybe you want to give yourself a challenge of not eating out at all for 30 days. Whatever the case may be, there are things you can do to avoid eating out.

Pack your lunch.

If you work or go to school and find yourself buying lunch, start packing it. Pack it the night before so you don’t have to worry about running out of time in the morning.

Make your coffee at home.

Stop buying coffee at the coffee shop and make it at home. You can buy a coffee maker that is programmable like this one so that all you need to do is get it ready the night before and you can wake up to the smell of coffee brewing! And, you can easily make your fancy coffee at home still. With flavored creamers, flavored coffee, and coffee syrups, the options are endless. We have a coffee grinder like this one because we love fresh coffee beans.

Invite friends over.

Instead of going out to restaurants with friends, invite them over. Host a potluck so that you aren’t making all the food. Or invite them over for coffee and dessert. It doesn’t have to be a big event every time. We are having friends over for a bonfire this weekend and the food we will share are marshmallows and hot dogs to roast over the fire! Super cheap, and everyone will have a good time.

Keep track of what you are saving

Keep an eye on the money you are saving while not eating out. This will help build momentum. You’ll see the progress you are making and you will want to keep going. Plan what you are going to do with that money and put a reminder of what that is where you can see it.

Stock the freezer with meals

One of the ways I’ve learned to avoid take out pizza for our family is if I make extra pizzas and put them in the freezer. It takes no time at all to grab one out and toss it in the oven.

Put some extra quick meals in the freezer for busy nights or nights that you just don’t feel like cooking a big meal.

Keep it simple

Can I tell you a secret? Sometimes I give my kids oatmeal for dinner. Because, here’s the thing. We’ve made this rule in our head that dinner has to be a three course meal, and only specific things. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you have been running errands all day, or are just exhausted, it’s perfectly fine to serve sandwiches or oatmeal or eggs for dinner.

I used to always make pizza completely from scratch, meaning I made the dough too. However, in recent months I’ve decided on the busy days we can make pizzas on english muffins. So simple and easy and the kids can make it themselves as well! So, give yourself a break. Make simple meals.

If you need some inspiration of what to cook that isn’t overly complicated and is great for a tight budget, check out the cookbook, Dining on a Dime.  I own a copy and have used it many times!

NOT EATING OUT COULD SAVE YOU HUNDREDS EVERY MONTH

Your bank account will thank you if you can cut back on eating out, even if it is just for a time. Not only does cutting back on eating out help your finances, it also makes the times you do go eat out all the more special and enjoyable.

2 thoughts on “Doing this one thing could save you HUNDREDS of dollars every month”

  1. Yes! The way we keep that spending reined in is by getting our eat out money in cash the first of every month and when it is gone it is gone. We have motivation to not spend all of it since we move leftover cash to a fund for vacations or weekend getaways. We use coupons and deals when ever possible and we often have half our cash leftover. Another thing that helps us is that as retirees we have to actually get in the car and go out to get take out and we know that we can have dinner cooked most times in less time than it takes to go out and get food. If we end up eating a big lunch we often just have cereal for supper and we enjoy it!

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