Everybody knows that eating at home can save you money. In fact, there are added benefits, such as increased food safety and a chance at healthier ingredients. But, eating at home can be hard to pull off in our busy days.
Ask me how I know.
Monday we all went to the pool, later than usual, and by the time we left we were all starving. I knew that my dinner plan would take a good hour, so we made a detour and picked up Chinese to bring home. We had the money in the budget, but in my efforts to “save time,” we waited an extra 20 minutes since the restaurant didn’t have the items ready. We could have just gone home and continued with Plan A.
While we enjoyed our meal, that’s $30 less in our eating out money for the rest of the month.
Since I am in a constant state of problem solving, I analyzed the situation to see how I could have played that scenario a little better.
Here’s my thinking on how to make eating at home easier:
1. Have a plan.
Planning out meals is the first line of defense against increased spending. I’ve been all over the map with meal planning, planning for a month, planning for a week, but reality is that having a plan helps me know what we have and reminds of what to do earlier in the day to have that plan actually come to fruition.
2. Keep quick fixes in mind.
But, I am also notorious for forgetting to thaw or do other pre-prep ideas in order to fulfill that meal plan. That’s when it’s helpful to keep quick fixes in mind. Beans and rice comes together fairly quickly as do sandwiches. My go-to Pasta with Red Sauce is quick and cheap. Stocking easy pantry meals is also helpful.
3. Be patient.
I wasn’t patient on Monday. I was thinking with my stomach, especially since I’ve been watching what I eat. (Read: I was ravenous by the time we left the pool since I’ve lowered my caloric intake.) But, I still had to be patient while I waited in the car for hubs to pick up Chinese. Either way, I had to be patient.
4. Offer an appetizer.
If we’d headed home and I’d pulled out cheese and crackers or chips and salsa, we probably would have had no problem waiting for me to pull together dinner. But, since our pantry was depleted on those kinds of items, I had a hard time thinking of something like that to tide us over.
5. Remember the end goal.
Your financial goals come into play when you’re making the decision between dining out and eating in. Three years ago, I would not even have considered dropping $30 on a quick Chinese dinner. Being debt-free allows us a bigger budget for “fun food.” However, that doesn’t mean we throw all caution to the wind. There’s a little less cash in the eating out envelope now and there’s a lot of month left on the calendar.
What do YOU do to save money?
Share a creative money saving idea below or in the comments.