If you’re looking to stop eating out in order to save money, you’re not alone. Most of us recognize that we eat out way too often. You’ve probably tried to stop many times, but with our busy lives, it’s just so hard. Not anymore, use these simple ideas to start saving money today.
With these simple ideas, you’ll see how to stick to your budget and save more money on food. They’re easy to try and won’t turn you into a slave of the kitchen, either.
How to Stop Eating Out to Save Money
First, Know Why You Want to Stop Eating Out
Each person will have their own why. There are really a couple of main reasons:
- You’re spending too much, or
- You’re eating too much
How much have you been spending to eat out? Have you tried to add it up? You just might be surprised to see that the money you’ve spent in the last year could probably pay for a vacation, pay off debt, or help you fund your retirement.
And, how much more food are you eating than you want to? Restaurant portions are way too big and it’s tempting to order all the extras like appetizers, beverages, and desserts.
So, now let’s get started on the “How.”
#1 Make a Commitment
This can be the trickiest part for you. Making a commitment to stop eating out is the first step, tho. You can do it. Just decide to make it so.
It doesn’t mean you’ll never eat out again, but decide that you’re going to restrict and reduce how often you eat out.
#2 Set an Eating Out Budget
Odds are, right now you’re eating out multiple times per week and spending hundreds of dollars at restaurants each month.
A good first step is to start by making whatever changes you need to in order to cut your eating out in half.
Here are some ideas that might work for you:
- Reduce how often you eat out
- Reduce the amount of your restaurant budget
- Cut back and only eat out once per week or month
This post contains affiliate links. This supports my family and allows me to keep providing you with great resources. You can trust that I only promote products I love or would use myself. Read my full disclosure for more details.
- Go Here to Find great deals on Groupon when you do want to use your eating out budget.
- Click Here for 12 Great Tips to Save Money on Food When Eating Out
#3 Make a Meal Plan
If you’re going to be successful at not eating out, you have to make a plan for what you are going to eat. You can come up with your own meal plan or you can buy a pre-made meal plan. Here are some favorite meal plans to buy:
- Eat at Home
- Plan to Eat
- $5 Meal Plan
- Ultimate Guide to Monthly Meal Planning
- Make a Super Simple Meal Plan in 10 Minutes
- Cheap Family Meal Plan – $65 for 1 Week
#4 Use Convenience Foods
There will be nights that you need something fast or you’re just feeling too lazy to cook. Have a few convenience foods on hand to keep you from ordering pizza or going through a drive-thru.
Here are some ideas:
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Batch-Cooked and Frozen Chicken Breast
- Frozen Family Dinners
- Frozen Pizza
- Boxed Macaroni & Cheese
- Instant Mashed Potatoes
- Frozen Veggies
- Bagged Salad
#5 Stock Your Pantry
Your pantry is like a savings account. It will pay off big time when it’s stocked with the right ingredients. Create a list of about 5 of your favorite meals that can be made entirely from pantry ingredients, then make sure those ingredients are always on hand.
You’re not limited to just what goes in your cupboards. Some of my favorite pantry dinners use ingredients from my freezer or refrigerator, too.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Spaghetti with garlic toast
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Soup
- Bean Burritos and Instant Rice
- Nachos with Refried Beans
- Scrambled Eggs with Toast and Canned Fruit
#6 Make Homemade Alternatives
Sometimes we eat out because we just want to eat one of our favorite dishes. This is the perfect time to learn some new cooking skills.
If you struggle with making unique dishes in a quick manner, a meal kit subscription might be just what you need. They come with all the ingredients you need and are usually very flavorful, but easy to make recipes. Our favorites to use are EveryPlate and Gobble. Both are on the frugal end of the spectrum, yet very flavorful.
- Read my Gobble review here – The 15-Minute Meal Kit
- My Honest EveryPlate Review – The Cheapest Meal Kit
You can learn to make nearly every recipe that you find at your favorite restaurant, pick one new one to make each month and you’ll be surprised how much you love making your own.
#7 Have Date Night In
Date nights don’t have to be spent at a restaurant. How often have you gone out to eat with your spouse and blown $100 on food and drinks only to regret it later? Have a simple date night at home instead after the kids go to bed, or try one of these Frugal Date Night Ideas.
#8 Get Together with Friends
So often, we go out to eat because we’re in a rut and are looking for a little entertainment. Food shouldn’t be our entertainment, though. Instead, invite some friends over for dinner or plan a supper club with a group of friends.
#9 Use Your Freezer
Freezer Meals are one of the most frugal ways to make meals. You can pick the kind of meals you like, spend a few minutes preparing the ingredients and stash some nice dinners in your freezer. They’re not as complicated as you might think. I make freezer meals from one type of meat at a time after I’ve picked it up on sale for even more savings.
#10 Take the Free Course
Sign up for the FREE Eat at Home Course to help you finally make a plan that you can stick to. It comes with pantry meal ideas and planning worksheets.
#11 Keep Your Kitchen Clean
Nobody likes to cook in a messy kitchen. Make sure you clean it every night so the next night you’ve got a nice clean space to cook in. Check out my kitchen cleaning tips, here.
#12 Eat Simple Meals
Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated. I think we put high expectations on ourselves to make sure every meal is balanced with meat, fresh veggies, and a healthy carb.
The truth is, real simple meals can be much better than what you’d get when eating out. And, your kids may even be happier, who doesn’t want that?
- Ramen Noodles
- Buttered Noodles
- French Bread Pizza
- Cereal or Oatmeal
- Toast and Eggs
- Chili Dogs
#13 Pack Some Snacks
How many times have you been out running errands and then got hungry? How about the kids? I can’t even tell you how many times the kids have begged for something because they’re starving and I’ve caved just so I can finish my errands.
Now, I keep snacks packed in my purse or in the car just for those occasions. As soon as they start asking for something to eat, I had them something. Here are some easy-to-pack snacks … many of them I get on subscribe and save for extra savings.
#14 And Lastly, Pack Your Lunch
We all know that eating lunch out day after day really adds up over the course of a month. Make sure you pack your lunch ahead of time so you’re not tempted when lunchtime rolls around.
Need some non-sandwich ideas?
- Cup of Noodles
- Hot Pockets
- Pita with Hummus
- Salad Kits
- Cereal or Oatmeal
- Crackers with cheese, lunchmeat, and fruit
I have used this cookbook so many times for easy and delicious dinners. You’ll love how it will help you make easy meals at home when you don’t feel like cooking at all.
It doesn’t matter what your reason is to stop eating out, you can use the ideas here to be successful.
Start by making those baby steps and come up with a simple plan. Grab the meal planning pages below which come with a completed menu including simple meals and Nightly Themes.