6 Ways Eating Out Less Has Made Our Family Better

As you know we are living off of one income now. It’s been a bit different but I think we’re doing well so far.  One thing we’ve done to help stretch my paycheck is to cut back eating out so often.  I didn’t think we ate out too much before the income switch but now I can see that we had a budget leak that could have been more savings for us.  And we’ve discovered there are more benefits than saving money!

We were already in the habit of making dinner at home and having family time together. It was the weekends when we usually ate out.  Saturdays were probably the worst culprits.  We would get up and go to our favorite diner for breakfast.  Then as we’d go and take care of things during the day we’d find lunch somewhere.  This would also tend to be pretty unhealthy.  I’m talking mall food here.  Afterward we’d be too beat to make dinner so we go out for dinner or order in.  Three meals may not seem like a lot but it would drain my wallet pretty quick!  I would usually go to the bank on Friday to take money out for the weekend and often I’d find that I was broke by Sunday!

And that was just eating out on Saturday! I didn’t even get to eating out on Sunday or during the week.  Sundays would usually be breakfast and lunch out again.  During the week we usually ate in but if we were tired we would easily get food out!

Overall we’re really happy with the fact that we have been eating at home more.

Here are six ways eating out less has made our family better:

  • We have more more family time together. When we eat we eat together at the dinner table.  We have more time for conversation to talk about our days.  Our daughter knows that dinner time is “family dinner.”  “A family that eats together stays together.
  • We are eating healthier. Sometimes we would eat out at a nice restaurant with great food but most of the time it would be at a chain type restaurant.  Yeah, we filled up but the food wasn’t really great for us.  Now the food we eat is prepared by us and we know better what the ingredients are.
  • We’re setting a better example for our children. By eating together at home our kids see that we don’t have to eat out for every meal and they can learn how food is prepared.  This will set them up to take care of themselves later on in life.
  • We’re saving money. This is a big one for us.  This is Free From Broke after all!  It’s tough to put a dollar figure on what we’re saving but I can tell you that I don’t have to go to the ATM twice in one weekend anymore!!  We’re finding that although our food shopping expenses have gone up some we still have extra money at the end of the month that we didn’t have when we ate out more often.
  • We’re being more efficient. Now when we go food shopping we know that everything we buy  on our grocery shopping list will be used.  It used to be we would go out to eat and the food we had would spoil.  Even when we ate out our meals were so big most of it would go uneaten.
  • Our home is a home! It’s hard to explain but our home is more complete now that we eat out less.  We’re using our home to it’s fullest extent.  All those things we got for our wedding like salad spinners and cooking sets are being used rather than sitting up on shelves.  It just feels like this is what it’s supposed to be.

It’s a shame it took our going to one income to take advantage of all of these benefits! Imagine what we could have been saving when we had two incomes?!?  Or how much healthier we would have been eating?

We haven’t completely given up eating out.  We still have the occasional pizza night.  And we’ll get together with friends every now and then at a nice restaurant.  But eating out less has definitely benefited our family in more ways than we would have thought!

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Published or updated April 6, 2013.

Comments

  1. Matt @ MyFinancialRecovery.net says:

    Congrats on cutting back the expensive dining out!

    I almost gave in to ordering in last night while I was getting dinner at the grocery store! It can be really tough when you are tired. I knew that last night I would have to do some dishes, clean the kitchen then start making dinner. I struggled to motivate myself but it was worth it to sit down and have dinner with the kids (too bad my girlfriend had class!).

    Matt @ MyFinancialRecovery.net’s last blog post..Frugal Friday Link Love And Happy Halloween!

  2. @ Matt – I know the temptation! A great benefit of my wife not working is that she’s not coming home from a day of work to worry about dinner.

    @ Miranda – I probably should have mentioned that my wife likes to plan out dinner for the week so she knows exactly what we need to buy. By planning we actually use what’s bought.

  3. We’ve cut back on eating out as well. Making a meal plan and a shopping list has been central to us getting what we need so that we’re not stuck just ordering in or eating out when we have no ideas.

    Also, we’ve compromised by doing the lunch date thing once a week. DH and I still get some good “alone” time while our son is at school, we get to go out, but lunch costs MUCH less than dinner.

    Miranda’s last blog post..The Economy and a Barack Obama Presidency?

  4. We cut way back on our eating out a couple of years ago. It was a tough adjustment, but a worthwhile one. We saved a ton of money. You really don’t realize just how much you are spending until you track it for a month.

    Also, I agree that eating at home can have positive effects on your family. I think there is a special bonding that occurs when a family sits down at the dinner table together. We all need to do this more often.

    Great article. Stumbled!

  5. We have the opposite habit. We eat out more on weekdays since I work away from home. I don’t usually get home until 6, so by the time I fix dinner it’s 7 or 8. Some days, especially after a hard day at work, I may just bring a bucket of chicken or pizza or Chinese take out home for dinner.

    I agree with all the advantages of eating in that you listed. Now I’m trying to be more organized and cook something extra on the weekend that we can just heat up during the week.

    Nice post. Thumbed it up. Have a good one!

    JMom’s last blog post..YES WE CAN!!!

  6. Now that my wife has quit her job, we eat at home much more than before. You would not believe how much we have saved. Our monthly food bill used be around 700 a month. We’ve managed to cut that down by over 3x. I still crave restaurant food every now and then but I feel healthier and I’ve lost weight as well

  7. @ Jeff – We didn’t realize how we spent and how much crap we used to eat! Thanks for the stumble!

    @ JMmom – Sometimes you do what you have to do. If my wife were working it wouldn’t be as easy for us to eat as home as much. Still, if she were working again I think we wouldn’t change our schedule too much.

    @ Steve – It’s amazing how much money slips through your fingers when you eat out a lot isn’t it?

  8. I am proud of myself. For work, I had to travel somewhere I don’t go often, and my favorite take-out restaurant is there. Somehow, I mustered up enough discipline to stick to the plan.

    Caleb Nelson’s last blog post..3 Steps To Getting What You Want

  9. @ Caleb – Good work! But hey, it may be ok to eat out once in a while just don’t go overboard.

    @ Craig – Thanks.

  10. Sometimes you have to take the best out of a bad scenario and clearly you used it to your advantage to enjoy your family time more. Can’t complain against that.

    Craig

  11. Deborah Johnson says:

    I knew I was spending money on eating out, take out and convenience foods at the grocery store, but I didn’t realize how much until I signed up for an account at Mint and plugged in the numbers. I think I was spending more on food than utilities.

    I started shopping from a list and sticking to it. Cooking for the week on Sunday also helps. I always have chicken breasts, pasta, salad, veggies and fruit on hand. I buy produce weekly at the farmers market and only buy what I’ll eat that week so it doesn’t spoil and go to waste.

    Not only does cooking and eating at home save money, but it’s healthier. Heart disease runs in my family, so eating well is a priority for me.

    I recommend reading “The Art of Simple Food” by Alice Waters for those who want to cook at home.

    Deborah Johnson’s last blog post..Community Post: Why Do You Write?

  12. @ Deborah – I’ll have to take a look at that book. I also hear a lot about Mint. Might have to check that out too. Thanks for telling us your story!

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