7 Ways to Stop Eating Out and Start Saving Money

family%20eating%20at%20dinner%20tableCut back on the amount you spend on take-out and restaurant dining. Although it may be the easier way out to dine out, it will become hard once you realize how much money you actually spend per year at restaurants and fast food venues. The average American household spends almost half of its food budget on eating out — out of about $6,000 spent on food a year, about $2,700 goes to eating out. Alcoholic beverages alone contribute almost $500 to that budget. Eating at home is not only cheaper, but it’s most often a lot healthier too. Here are some ways you can avoid the temptations and cravings of fast food:

1. Grab and eat foods rule. One of the reasons we love fast food is because it’s fast. In just a few minutes, we’re chowing on hot, tasty foods that satisfy our need for immediate gratification. Healthy foods to keep on hand are trail mix, fresh fruits and veggies (precut for easier consumption), granola bars (yes, you can make your own at home), pudding or Jello, pretzels, cottage cheese, salads, and sweet treats like miniature candy bars or Hershey’s kisses. Packaging foods in individual bags makes it easy to take snacks with you when you leave the house, too.

2. Money saved is money earned. Start a special savings fund for something you’ve always wanted, like that new fishing boat motor, an iPad, or an exotic vacation. Every time you’re tempted to eat out, take the money you would have spent on take-out food and add it to your dream fund. The knowledge of saving for something worthwhile is often enough of a motivator to keep you from turning into McDonald’s after work.

3. Make cooking at home enjoyable. Turn up your favorite music, involve the whole family, or splurge on a nice set of spices. Whatever it takes to make cooking enjoyable for you is a worthwhile investment. Trying out new recipes, creating your own dishes, and filling your home with the smells of home cooked food can all be great starting points for fostering a love of cooking. If it’s enjoyable, cooking at home can be healthy and relaxing, making it an ideal hobby.

4. Planning ahead helps you avoid temptation. Menu planning and preparing foods in advance can really help out when you’re feeling unmotivated to cook, and tempted to eat out. You can make your own Hot Pockets and freeze them for later, or keep a prepared menu every week to take the pain out of deciding what’s for supper.

5. Learn to make your favorite fast foods at home. If you simply can’t live without that Big Mac, or you get a weekly hankering for KFC chicken, you can learn to recreate your favorite fast food recipes at home.

6. Make meals a social occasion. Another way to take the pain out of eating at home is to create a meal rotation plan with your neighbors and friends. You rotate meeting at everybody’s homes one day a week to showcase everyone’s cooking skills and to enjoy some fun times. Quite often, the company makes even the most mundane meals exciting.

7. Spruce up your kitchen and dining area. If you take time to make your kitchen and dining area appealing, you will be extra motivated to spend time in those areas of your home. If your kitchen features brightly colored dishes and your favorite framed prints, you might be more likely to be drawn to your own kitchen rather than a fast food restaurant.

Article Source: http://moneyning.com/frugality/7-ways-to-stop-eating-out/

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