Frugal Friday Tip: Home Cookin’

by Ryan Yates on January 27, 2012

Are you losing money on food?

What do you spend on eating out every month? Is it an embarrassing amount?

We were shocked a few years ago when we added up 3 months of eating out: $745 in March, $925 in April, and $865 in May. No fancy dinners, no steakhouses, just lunches, mid-level restaurants, and fast food.

There has definitely been a shift going on in this country over the past 10-20 years about how we view eating out. What was once a special treat a few times a week has turned into an almost everyday occurrence.

Today, it’s normal to eat out for lunch 4-5 times a week. It’s normal to take the family out for dinner on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. After all, with such long hours at the office, who has time to cook?

But what is all of that “restaurant money” doing to your budget?

Turn Back the Clock

Instead of buying into the restaurant culture, let’s party like it’s 1989. There’s probably a lot of psychology that goes into our obsession with eating out. We liked it so much when our parents took us out on the town that we have turned it into a normal event without weighing the cost.

One of the best ways to cut food costs is cooking meals at home instead of eating out so much. Not only will you save money on overpriced restaurant food, but eating out will turn into a special occasion when it’s done less frequently.

Don’t Be Intimidated

One of the most common excuses about not cooking at home is that people say they don’t know how to cook. Sure, cooking from scratch might be above your experience level, but there are plenty of options at the grocery store for even the most inexperienced chef to cook like a pro.

Instead of having a bad attitude about cooking in your kitchen, look at it as a fun challenge. How can you get better? What new foods can you discover? How can you get the kids involved?

Before you know it, you’ll be able to rival many restaurant dishes, especially if you take some tips from all of the cooking shows.

Health Considerations

You know why restaurant food tastes to delectable? It’s usually full of butter, sugar, salt, fat, or any number of unhealthy ingredients that taste good but have horrible health consequences. When you cook at home, you not only save money, but you control what goes into your food.

Just a thought.

Photo By Valdiney Pimenta

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Hilton January 27, 2012 at 11:45 am

As a kid my parents almost never took us out to eat. Maybe for a birthday or other special event. We’re talking once or twice a YEAR. But, sadly, I’ve totally made up for it as an adult.

The amount of money we spent is extremely embarrassing- an average of $897 per month, every month in 2011! Stupid, Stupid, Stupid…

This is our first month of trying to change our ways…I’m anxious to see how we did. Honestly, I’m a little concerned…

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Ryan Yates January 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm

The odd thing with my family is that we rarely went out to eat when I was growing up. But now, it seems that all my parents do is go out to eat. It’s frustrating, but there’s no way to convince them othewise.

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JMK January 29, 2012 at 6:57 am

Each year when I extend our spreadsheet with the spending plan for the next 12 months I include a row with “January Birthdays, and $180. We have family 3 BDs in January and frankly nobody want to entertain right after Christmas. I assume our gang of 4 can easily eat wherever the BD person chose for $60 (or less if I can locate a coupon). For the rest of the year I don’t even include a line item for restaurants each week in our plans. We go out so seldom it would be pointless. We live on way less that we make and every Friday I skim off the “extra” in our accounts and contribute to retirment savings or make an extra mortgage payment. If we somehow wound up in a restaurant that week, there were simply be a few less extra dollars to transfer. The simple pain of having to add a row to that week’s planned spending to list the unscheduled restaurant meal draws attention to it. The fact that the amount is dollar for dollar deducted off the amount left to go to more important savings goals means I really see what that meal cost us.

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Ryan Yates January 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Great strategy, thanks for sharing! Keep it up.

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