People often say that if you want to start saving money, stop eating out so much. With hectic schedules that can be much easier said than done. Sure, it may not seem like eating out a couple of times a week isn’t a big deal and won’t do too much damage, but the truth is, it all adds up. Luckily, there are still ways to indulge the foodie in you while still saving money. The average American household spends $3,000 a year eating out.1 With a statistic like that, seeking out ways to be cost-effective with your food is critical.
3 Ways to Be a Frugal Foodie
1. Cook fun meals at home
Once you have the basic necessities for cooking at home such as olive oil, spices, etc. your grocery bill won’t be high as high when you meal prep. Cooking at home will save you money, but this doesn’t mean you can never eat out again. Instead, tell yourself that you will meal prep and cook at home five to six nights a week and treat yourself to a dinner out with friends on the nights that you aren't cooking. Recently, I added delicious and easy recipes into our nightly dinners, like Chicken Tikka Marsala, Butter Chicken, Chile Verde and a variety of curries. Yum!
2. Give Up The Extras
Just because you go out to dinner doesn’t mean you have to order multiple drinks, a lavish desert, and numerous appetizers. In other words, you can still eat out but just make some more frugal choices when you order. If you stick to one main entree, you can keep your eating out spending more under control and still enjoy the experience of eating out.
3. Have a game plan in Advance
Go online, look at the menu and the prices. This tip is crucial to saving money when eating out. Checking the menu, deciding what you want (before you are starving in the restaurant) isn't just good for your pocket book, it's healthier too. You are far more likely to avoid impulsive decisions when you plan in advance. That gives you the chance to make a financially smart decision (and follow tip number 2) and choose to eat at a restaurant where the entrees are more reasonably priced. If you are looking to try new places and want an easy way to search (and sort by price range), check out the Fox Cities Magazine Dining Guide: https://foxcitiesmagazine.com/dining-guide/.
Proclaiming that you’ll never eat out again to save money is slightly unrealistic. The good news is, you don’t have to give up eating out entirely to save major cash. Most Americans eat commercially prepared meals about four times a week. If you make just two of these meals at home instead, you save $936 – almost $1,000 a year!2
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