The bane of our budget the last few months has been eating out. It breaks my budget every month. Luckily, there is usually slack in my grocery budget and it all evens out, but I’d love to be able to take some of that cash and add it to my debt snowball. In order to get that budget under control, I started to look at why we were eating out.
Most of the time we were eating out because we were running errands and didn’t eat before we left the house. We’d stop for fast food or something inexpensive somewhere while running errands. Am I the only one who thinks that fast food is getting ridiculously expensive? Seven bucks for a value meal? Really? But I digress… so we were spending a lot of money because we were not prepared. Since I’ve identified this problem, we’ve either eaten before we go out or I’ll plan something quick to make when we get home.
Other times I just don’t feel like cooking something. That doesn’t happen often but it does happen. I’ve now got stuff on hand to make a ton of quick meals that either my husband or I can make. Having a meal plan helps but having back up plans, like grilled cheese or an awesome salad is a budget lifesaver. Hell, even keeping a couple boxes of mac and cheese is a cheap way to fill your tummy without breaking the bank (note to self: we are out of mac and cheese).
A few times, not very often anymore, there were foods that I just loved that I didn’t make at home. Pizza was one of those things, until I found Kristen’s recipe. I found this about two or three months ago and I think we’ve only had takeout pizza once since then. I make it every week to cut out my husband’s pizza cravings. I’ve also remembered to mix in recipes Jeff really loves, like my chicken marsala (recipe can be found on the recipe page of this site). I made it this weekend and it was a huge hit. Figuring out how to make our favorite foods has really helped us save a lot of cash. Have you tried to go out for chicken parm or chicken marsala recently? Wow, that’ll cost you. The chicken marsala I made this weekend cost us… are you ready for this? Less than $3. Not per serving but $3 total (Chicken $2.00, can of mushrooms $.25, clove of garlic $.10, half a box of pasta $.33, Marsala wine $.30, flour and seasonings were all on hand = 2.98). That’s a $40 dinner if we went out.
So if you think you are eating out too much, think about why you do it. Plan a strategy for eating out less and watch those savings pile up.