6 Ways to Avoid Going Out to Eat

Probably the most common piece of personal finance advice out there is to save money by avoiding restaurants. It sounds so simple: cook at home or brown bag it. For some people, this can be tough.  Here are a few suggestions that can help you if you find it hard to avoid the temptation to go out to eat your meals.

1. Think about why you like to go out to eat.

Is the food better than you can make at home? Do you enjoy the convenience? Are you too tired at the end of the day? Do you find it difficult to cook at home because of a lack of organization and planning? If you know more about why you like to eat out, it will be easier to find a solution that meets your needs. After all, you can have a fully stocked fridge and a gourmet kitchen – but if you’re too tired or unmotivated to cook, you may give into the temptation of dining out.

2. Think about any negatives of going out to eat.

Perhaps you don’t like the noise in restaurants or having to wait for service. It can be a hassle to find parking and time consuming. Restaurants cost a lot of money, the food is often less healthy than homemade, and the portions are larger.

3. Find a way to eat home cooked meals that work with your schedule.

For some people, it’s weekly menu planning. Others may stock their freezers with frozen entrees or live on sandwiches, salads, fruit and cereal. If you aren’t sure how to organize and plan a week’s worth of meals, you can find a wealth of resources like shopping lists and recipes online.

If you don’t love to cook, you can always assemble instead. Why not stock your fridge with ingredients for sandwiches and salads? Many crock pot recipes also take very little effort and can be made well ahead. Restaurant food is great, but remember they generally use more fat, salt and sugar than we normally would at home.

4. Find the right balance in your life.

If you don’t have the time or energy to prepare food at home, it’s time to look at your schedule and find out what you can cut to get that time and energy back. If you have a partner or older children, there is no reason why everything should fall on one person. Even if they are not able to cook, they can help our with some of the other household chores to give you a break.

5. Take care of yourself.

If you’re not getting enough sleep and working long hours, it could be difficult for you to resist the temptation to eat out and have the energy to make smarter food choices. Many times we look at eating in a restaurant as a small treat for ourselves or a break from other responsibilities. By eating in a restaurant you won’t have to cook, serve, or clean up – all you need to do is order, eat, and pay the bill. It’s important to have things in our lives that make us feel good too. If restaurants filled that role for you, you’ll want to find something else that invokes similar feelings and is good for both your wallet and your health.

6. Remember that it’s still okay to go to restaurants, once in awhile.

Be sure to fit eating out into your goals for spending and healthy eating. If going out to eat is not completely off limits, it can make it easier to resist instant gratification. Try to choose places that are memorable and offer you a unique dining experience, without being overpriced.

Article Source: David Ning for Moneyning.com

Tips for Saving Money While Dining Out

Who doesn’t love grabbing a meal at a restaurant? Whether it’s a national chain or a local mom-and-pop, the dining out experience is about enjoying great food and taking in a fun restaurant atmosphere. Unfortunately in many cases, it also means spending cash and putting a dent in your budget. Here are some tips to consider before visiting a restaurant, that can help save you money so you can enjoy a good meal out without feeling guilty.

Hit up happy hour
Happy hour isn’t always just about deals on drinks. Many establishments also have special food menus during certain times. So, plan ahead of time and hit up happy hour for cheaper food and drink selections.

Plan ahead
If you can’t make happy hour, once you decide where you want to eat, check out the menu right away. Then, you can discuss what your budget will allow and plan accordingly. The key to this tip is sticking to your guns; if your plan was to get a less expensive dish but once you arrive at the restaurant the specials sound tempting, don’t give in. You can still enjoy yourself and have a great meal while abiding by the budget you’ve put in place.

Buy the bottle
This tip applies to occasions when a large group plans to order similar beverages. Discuss what everyone’s tastes are and find a common ground. Then, instead of each of you ordering a $9 glass of wine, opt for the bottle instead, then divvy up the cost.

Skip dessert
When the server comes around and asks if you’re ready for dessert, it can be incredibly hard to say no. That chocolate cake always sounds so delicious. But use your willpower and just say no, as chances are, dessert menu items are overpriced. Instead, opt for the ice cream parlor down the road. Or, stop at the grocery store on the way home and pick out something more budget-friendly from the bakery.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com