Eating Out Too Much? 4 Tips for Cutting Back

May 24, 2017
Tagged with: Eating Out Too Much? 4 Tips for Cutting Back

If you find yourself getting home from work late several nights a week, the last thing you probably feel like doing is cooking a meal from scratch. It’s so much easier to order delivery, grab takeout on the way home, or gather up the family and head to your favorite restaurant. Unfortunately, if this becomes a habit instead of an occasional indulgence, you may see your wallet shrinking—and your waistline expanding. Eating out is very expensive, and restaurant meals are often served in overly large portions and contain high levels of salt, fat, and sugar. So how can you cut back if your habit is getting out of control? Here are 4 tips for eating well at home.

 

Make a Plan for Eating Out

It’s not realistic to completely cut out meals out—it’s important to allow yourself a treat occasionally. It’s much easier to accomplish this if you make a plan for how often you’ll allow yourself to visit your favorite restaurants. For you, once a week might be a good compromise—or even one breakfast and one dinner out. Other people might find going out to eat once every two weeks or once a month is a better plan. Whatever you decide, it’s important to make a plan and stick to it.

 

Crunch the Numbers

If you’re like most people, you may be unaware of how much you’re really spending on eating out. One couple discovered they were spending about $900 a month on meals at restaurants! While that was within their budget, they wanted to reduce the amount and managed to trim their spending by around $200-300 a month. Take a few minutes to discover how much you’re spending. The sticker shock might just convince you that eating out less could allow you more room in the budget for other priorities. Groceries are much more cost effective—you might even consider starting a vegetable garden, as many families did to save money in wartime.

 

Shop and Cook with a System

Many people feel overwhelmed at the idea of cooking every night. However, this becomes a lot easier when you “piggyback” meals with the same ingredients and eat leftovers some nights. This does involve some planning, but after you learn to shop and cook with a system that works for you, it gets easier. It’s a good idea to plan your meals once a week and create a shopping list around those meals. Don’t just plan dinners, think about what you’re going to eat for breakfast and lunch too (which could always be leftovers!). If you like a lot of variety in your diet, this step can be more complex, but it’s extremely important to know what you’re making and have the ingredients on hand when you need them.

 

Cook in Big Batches

Cooking every night is time-consuming, and you may not always feel up to creating something from scratch. Instead, devote one afternoon a week (or one day a month) to big batch cooking. Crock-pot meals can be prepared in advance and frozen, then cooked in the slow cooker when they’re needed. Preparing healthier staples in advance can make midweek cooking a breeze!

 

A Healthy Choice

While it is possible to eat out healthfully, it’s much easier to maintain your health when you cook at home. Aside from feeling better, you could save on healthcare costs and even lose weight! All it takes is some planning and dedication to make your goal reality.

Author: Audrey Willis