We have a wonderfully vibrant community of friends who all had kids at around the same time, and we never eat out together anymore! I always have in the freezer hot-dogs, hamburgers and fries for a urgency of eating junk food when I had a not so good day at work… At least, I add a lot of vegetables salad, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, coleslaw, etc to it! As we were leaving, we saw a plump mouse trying to scamper in through the doors we were exiting thru! I would prefer to not eat out so often for health reasons. A series of elegant experiments  conducted by Anthony Dickinson and colleagues in the early s at the University of Cambridge in England clearly exposes the behavioral differences between goal-directed and habitual processes. Kim from Philadelphia says:
Easy meals for week nights is crucial! Your comment the other day on the June Expenses post actually inspired me to write this, so thank you: Best of luck to you with your July meal plan. I totally agree—easy meals on weeknights are the key! We eat out a lot on the weekends. During the week I am good about cooking dinner and then we take the leftovers for lunch.
In fact we have a group of us that formed a monthly dinner club this year. On the last weekend of each month one couple will host dinner at their house for the group. Everyone brings along some adult beverages and we have had quite a variety of excellent food. I broke my eating out habit in one not-so-easy step: I had a health crisis. I can count on two fingers the number of restaurant meals available in the small city where I live that I consider healthy.
The benefits of eating healthful food prepared at home are far more than merely economic! I think health is a fabulous reason not to eat out. I estimate we hit up a restaurant twice a month and takeout maybe twice a month. Your numbers are quite low! Treat meals definitely help!
I can make a ginormous pot roast on Sunday and we snack on it all week; we have our own laying hens, so I make deviled eggs by the dozen which turn into quick breakfasts, and my all-time favorite: That pre-cooked burger comes out of the freezer and goes into about a zillion things, my favorite being the pressure cooker with a pound of uncooked pasta, jar of pasta sauce, and one pasta-sauce-jar of water or broth, if I happen to have made some recently.
We definitely need to get our eating out habit under control! I will definitely be working with hubby to apply these steps—especially the emergency meal and zero tolerance tips. I love deviled eggs! And, cooking a huge batch on Sundays is a great technique.
We do eat out occasionally, but that amount has been greatly reduced as my cooking skills have improved. I totally agree that having a solid plan and a great set of meals that are quick to prepare is crucial, especially when working a full time job outside of the home.
And I think easy weekday meals are the golden ticket! But, there was a time where we were happy to spend that money. I like when this happens. I do cook about every night husband cooks about 1 night a week. But lots of things can derail that plan which honestly stresses me out. Getting invited to dinner ugh no leftovers! I try to cook in bulk but it always results in about 6 servings max!
I did make 2 gallons of curry once, and we got sick of it. Due to the potatoes, it was not a good freezing candidate. Last month we ate out 3x as a couple one was a fun night with 3 other couples , H got breakfast one day, and lunch another day.
That was a high month. Eating out is just easier. It has definitely taken us some time to get into the rhythm of cooking in bulk, etc. And, having super easy weekday dinners has been a lifesaver too. All about that conscious spending: Before we moved to the country we probably ate out times per week. Not only is the new house far from a restaurant like a 30 minute drive but it also has a beautiful kitchen.
It has turned my husband into a wonderful cook. I can live with it. Now, my husband eats out his lunch most days. I am slowly working on that. I have asked family to give him a lunch bag for his bday. My goal is to get it to 3 days a week. I am happy to report that this week he gave up going for morning coffee and is packing his own extra tea to heat up at work. I am more like you — make the rule appear black and white and then when it is reasonable to be grey, be grey!
Haha, yes, I like that! Sometimes there just is a grey area! Especially when you have a greyhound in the home ;. Then I met my husband who was a chef, and loved to go out to eat and try new places.
I was shocked at the expense, but we did fall into a habit of going out every weekend. It really makes it a special event when it DOES happen. Are you just counting that as a travel expense, or was it paid for by someone else? Being married to a chef sounds like an awesome arrangement: You have a good memory—we did eat out in NYC, but it was paid for.
We were on an all-expenses paid trip to speak about Frugalwoods at NYU, which was awesome. My kinda travel for sure! Plus, I really loved the opportunity to talk about my favorite thing—frugal living. I eat out less than two times a month. I basically go out of the office around 5: Nice 9 steps Frugalwoods. Eating out is definitely a financial weak spot for me.
Love this list of action steps to take to curb that habit and reduce spending in this area! Thanks for sharing how it works for you guys.. It was a tough one for us to overcome for sure. The one-month timeframe for testing it out really helped us get the ball rolling. Best of luck to ya: Just had a boiled potato and baked beans along with a small cucumber.
This is a great and inspiring article. I know my husband and I have a terrible going out habit that we really need to stop. We found that the one month timeframe was really effective and not too overwhelming for us. I need this advice right now… but I also need to get my fiance on board… we are both pretty bad with eating out.
Thanks for this, hopefully I can get the fiance on board and we can cut some eating out expenses in the next few months. Best of luck to you—I bet you can do it: I usually buy organic and healthy produce all the time but that needs to stop! Hi Paula—thank you so much for reading! The key for us has been to frugalize all other areas of our groceries so that we can spend the money on lots of produce.
I wish you all the very best: Eating out is still one of our weaknesses. We limit our eating out, and use coupons and other deals, but it still costs.
Do the one month trial! We found that timeframe to be very manageable and not too overwhelming. I wish you all the best: Eating at restaurants — even very inexpensive ones — is my biggest weakness. I think I could do that. We have cut down quite a bit, but still are close to once a week. In addition, I am still eating out close to once a week for lunch sometimes 0 now though!
We avoid sit down meals, but order pizza sometimes. The biggest way to cut eating out for us has been access to homegrown beef. We have all sorts of cuts and there is no purpose to eat out when the food at home is going to taste better anyways.
So he was told to eat better which cuts a lot of eating out. We go through spells — we can go a few months with out eating out and other times its 2 or 3 times a week.
If I have a plan it will take an act of congress to get me to deviate from my plan — I do not like when things do not go as planned its a fault in many cases…. Yeah, the meal plan definitely saves us from going out too. And hooray for frozen pizza and mac-n-cheese back-ups! We attend three times a week and we often find ourselves stopping for something before our after service. We are moving in the coming weeks — I happen to be sitting at the airport awaiting my flight back home after a visit to our new location.
Church will be 10 minutes from home — we could even walk. But the thing that truly scares me is the abundance of places to eat nearby. We have tended to use meals out for celebrations, but like you noted, we celebrate everything.
My goal is to be more explicit and mindful about eating out. I definitely subscribe to your tactic of keeping something easy in the freezer! Skillet meals and frozen pizzas are my go-tos there. Skillet meals are, again, not healthy, but I usually add additional frozen veggies to them. And, they will do in a pinch. The trap we fall into with eating out is social occasions. FW can churn out on repeat for weeknights. Would you mind sharing some of your most frugal recipes with us?
I am eyeing that caprese salad and hummus. Our Epically Frugal Lunch Recipe. FW about writing up some more: Our favorite emergency food: Boil a bag and put them over greens topped with EVOO and parmesan. Thanks for the tip, neighbor. In fact, we have a slot in our freezer that as far as I can tell is the perfect size, and only useful for storing frozen pizza http: Our other go-to backup meal is instant ramen. Everybody likes a hot bowl of tasty sodium right? We like to spruce it up with frozen veggies and frozen dumplings; the prep work still only involves boiling water, but it comes out tasting and looking like a complete meal: Haha, I love the frozen pizza slot!
If I come home from a long, stressful day which is quite frankly most days the last thing I want to do is stand around the kitchen cooking. Frugalwoods, I am a 24yr old recent college grad. I currently work at Starbucks and occasionally babysit for a family I used to nanny for. All that to say, I have a question.
I feel bad saying no. Maybe I need to buckle down and just commit? But I think you can maximize both if you get a little creative. And your friends will totally understand what you are trying to do. I admire your frugal eating habits, many of which are adopted in our household as well. Just like you, I would never compromise the quality of the ingredients that go into my cooking.
Hence, I try to buy organic and locally grown as much as I can, since we much prefer home cooked meals made with quality ingredients than restaurant food going out reserved for special occasions only, if ever.
I do extend the same principles when it comes to food quality to my dog. Kibble, even grain free, is subpar, albeit cheap and convenient, pet food choice: No wonder my husband and I eat out all the time! We seldom eat out expense, plus watching what we eat.
Also, in the summer when we grill out, I always fill the grill. Then, I take each food and portion it out into meal-size portions, wrap it in saran and aluminum foil, label it, and freeze. When it comes dinner time, I just yank out a pre-cooked meat, nuke it min.
I love to cook, just not every night. And instead of jarred spaghetti sauce high in sodium and sugars , I just cut up some veggies, saute for min. Add parmesan to thicken, and voila—homemade sauce in under 10 min.
Tastes better and better for you and WAY cheaper. You can cook and large pot of regular rice, strain, portion and freeze. Tastes as if you just cooked it and saves lots of time. I am finding that month 2 of cooking meals in is getting to me. The first month was a game — wow we went this long without eating out. What do you do when you hit those moments of throwing in the towel? I would and could never be cheap. Sorry, just bad form.
I think some meal-planning tips are really all I need. Checking out a new place is exciting. Like I said, my motivation is health. Some of your tips are helpful.
Mostly, I find are too cheap a lifestyle for me. Unless you are eating at very high-end restaurants or are eating very simple foods when you eat out, there is a VERY good chance that you are eating food that is very heavily processed. It might be true for some things, like seafood. Just found your blog. Love this whole idea. We as a family of 3 have a horrible habit of eating out. I have many excuses small, ridiculous kitchen, hating the amount of dishes, not liking leftovers, etc.
With church an hour away and small group 30 more from church , we find ourselves stuck. And, since that usually takes around an hr, we have more time to spend in limbo from about 1: Favourites include lentil sloppy joes, squash soup, and black beans for tacos. Only place sit down restaurant we eat out occasionally is Golden Corral breakfast buffet. The variety is unbeatable. Most of the time I carry a couple vaccum thermos with brewed iced tea or coffee and take food with me.
Plus my home brewed tea and iced coffee taste way better than their over priced drinks and I do love Starbucks tumblers but I buy all mine at garage sales and thrift stores average price. Starbucks Tumblers are a perfect example of that wasteful consumer stupidity.
As we were leaving, we saw a plump mouse trying to scamper in through the doors we were exiting thru! We also ate out when unexpectedly — waiting excessively long almost 2 hrs! Santa apologized for making us wait so long, and I apologized for not buying any photos, and we skedaddled…! But one thing we still do is socialize with friends. The reason we are so frugal is to be able to enjoy the experiences that matter to us.
Then we can purchase a growler, which is a refillable dark jug, to take home. When we just eat out with friends we often just order something very healthy, drink water, and avoid buying extras. Pubs are best for the occasional beer, while restaurants really jack up their prices on all forms of drinks, plus they push those extra salads, appetizers, and desserts.
I am in the middle of your Frugal Challenge and just read this email. This is a huge area for us that we have been cutting back. We were able to use some gift cards.
I have been planning our meals or at least our ingredients and really making it work. There has been dinner on the table no matter what. I grocery shopped Friday afternoon and realized that there was no way I could cook after working and shopping so we had frozen pizza.
Thanks for the challenge. We'd really appreciate it. Click the AdBlock button on your browser and select Don't run on pages on this domain. How Do I Whitelist Observer? Below are steps you can take in order to whitelist Observer. For Adblock Plus on Google Chrome: Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Enabled on this site.
For Adblock Plus on Firefox: Habit elimination becomes more difficult with age because repetitions reinforce habits cumulatively over the lifespan. An example of a habit loop is TV program ends cue , go to the fridge routine , eat a snack reward. The key to changing habits is to identify your cue and modify your routine and reward. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Habit disambiguation. Behavior modification Cognitive behavior therapy Habit reversal training Paradoxical intention.
The mental fitness guide. Retrieved on August 29, The American Journal of Psychology. University of Illinois Press. Retrieved November 30, Awareness, intention, efficiency, and control in social cognition. An introduction to behavior theory.
How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology. Don't forget your pill!: Designing effective medication reminder apps that support users' daily routines. Beyond selftracking and reminders: Designing smartphone apps that support habit formation. How do habits guide behavior? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48 , The Development of Behavioural Autonomy.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, volume , pages 67— Alcoholism and the Exercise of Freedom". Diseases of the Will: Alcohol and the Dilemmas of Freedom.