Have financial stress due to eating out too much? Here are 5 tips to help

More so than ever, eating out should be done in moderation due to rising costs

Stock image. coco HACHE (Pexels)

Let’s face it, there might not be a sharper double-edged sword to any family or personal budget than eating out.

On one hand, it’s quick, convenient and often downright fun. Date nights are essential for couples and memories can be made taking the family out to good establishments.

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On the other, it can be crippling financially with how much more expensive it is compared to making food at home, and with how much food costs have skyrocketed in recent years.

On average, Americans spend roughly $300 a month on eating out a year, according to ramseysolutions.com, with married couples who have kids spending between $462 and $519 a month eating out.

It’s mentally healthy to treat yourself and eat out every so often, but what are ways you can do so without crossing that line to financial troubles? Here are some tips to avoid eating out too much, according to Money Under 30. These are reasons that stretch a little beyond the obvious of just going to the grocery store more.

1. Do meal planning/prep

Before a week begins, it can helpful to map out which days to cook and what to make. Make a grocery list that has what you need to make these meals, or better yet, prepare meals ahead of time and store them in a fridge or freezer. When dinner time comes on certain days, this allows you to make something efficiently and easily, or just pull out an already prepared meal. It might be a little more work to do all the above, but it’s almost like earning money with what you can save.

2. Be careful about eating out for only social reasons

It’s always fun to go hang out with family or friends at a dining establishment, but doing so only to be social can lead to spending more money than you want or need to. Alternatives to this could be having an inexpensive drink, eating an appetizer only or maybe even ordering something small off of the kids menu while still socializing.

3. Order meals wisely

This is where finding a restaurant that gives you good portions can really be helpful. One that does so can allow you to order a meal that might be able to give you leftovers and meals for two days, not just one. It’s also a good idea to avoid ordering desserts or alcoholic drinks that have high markups.

4. Use that freezer

Just because you’re not hungry for something at the moment doesn’t mean you won’t be at another time down the road. Putting extra food in the freezer for later consumption is almost like a free trip to the grocery story.

5. Copy restaurant recipes

There’s nothing wrong with loving particular dishes at your favorite restaurants. Well, how about bringing those dishes to your own kitchen for a fraction of the cost? There are plenty of what’s known as “copycat” meals on the internet, where people can find recipes of dishes made at restaurants.

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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