Eating Out Frugally

by Kelly · 5 comments

in Repeats

This post originally appeared on March 14, 2008. I was getting ready to go on vacation and was thinking about all the delicious take-out I was going to eat while in the United States. But beyond that, eating out remains our biggest budget buster, and a challenge that we haven’t yet managed to completely conquer. You can read part 2 here and part 3 here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about eating out lately. One reason, of course, is that I’ve been thinking about all the yummy food I’m going to eat on our vacation. But it’s also something that’s been increasingly on my mind since the great ‘All Meals At Home, All The Time, Huge Pile Of Dishes’ experiment.

Like any budget, ours is divided into two categories: ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’. The fixed expenses are things like rent, electricity, insurance and minimum debts payments, and it is at least €1822.85. I say ‘at least’ because I’ve included things like the phone and the nanny in this category; we pay a minimum for both these (very essential) services but sometimes pay more. That’s roughly 60% of our income- without even thinking about variables, otherwise known as little luxuries like food and gas.

Of course not all of the ‘variable’ category goes to food and gas. It includes things like clothes, oil changes and of course eating out. When the budget gets tight, eating out is the first thing to get going.

There’s a limit to how much I can take however. I found myself getting frustrated in two different ways last month. First was the frustration of having to think of, prepare, serve and clean up after three meals a day, for five. I felt like the only thing I was doing with my time was related to food, in one way or another. The second thing that frustrated me was feeling like I never got a treat. I enjoy eating out, even though the places we go have largely been limited to those with plastic playgrounds for the past five years. Having every meal be something I cooked- well that’s a lot like drudgery, as much as I enjoy cooking.

This is the first in a two part series. Stay tuned (or subscribed) next week for part two. And if you’re looking for another (great) post on the subject, check out Paid Twice’s recent post.


1 Monty Loree December 28, 2008

Hey Frugal..
I used to eat out 3 times a day. I could afford it, and I was too busy to cook.
What this really meant is that my lifestyle was out of control.

Over the last year or so, I’ve started cooking at home, which means as you said, planning meals each day.

What I started to do was try to cook the restaurant recipes that I liked best. My enjoyment level of the process increased dramatically. I was getting the food I liked on a regular basis for a fraction of the cost.

Being frugal is time consuming. I walk or ride my bike instead of driving a car.. (I do drive a few times a week)

Ultimately the process is more of a lifestyle change than being frugal. I’m learning that walking gives me freedom, and cooking my own meals means that I’m in control of my time and lifestyle.

Monty Loree´s last blog post..The Amero – New Currency for the U.S.?

2 Fabulously Broke December 28, 2008

Eating out and shopping are definitely the first ones to go.

I love cooking but I also do it in bulk now. A week’s worth of cooking on Sunday for my lunches and dinners (2 different meals eaten all week) and special meals on the weekend.

Fabulously Broke in the City
Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver…

Fabulously Broke´s last blog post..Taking screenshot notes for yourself (Firefox Scrapbook & Evernote)

3 Monty Loree December 28, 2008

I always try to think back to the time when people didn’t have credit cards and eating out was a luxury… We’ve gotten so used to eating out.

Staying home and cooking is something you do for the family. IMO.. it’s a luxury to have the time to cook good meals for yourself and your family.
Especially in this busy world.

Monty Loree´s last blog post..The Amero – New Currency for the U.S.?

4 Jason from Money Theory December 29, 2008

We’ve definitely cut back on eating out and buying new stuff. We only buy the absolute necessities.

We do actually enjoy cooking at home a lot more now then we used to, but we definitely get a bit stir crazy by the end of the week. So my fiance and I decided that we would definitely budget in going to a restaurant once a week. It really makes the weekend nice because it feels more like a special event now…going to a restaurant and having our ‘date night’ is something to really look forward to.

We do stick with restaurants that are fairly inexpensive though. To keep the cost down a bit more we’ll usually just order water and our meals – no appetizers or deserts.



Jason from Money Theory´s last blog post..The tap or the bottle?

5 Wordswoman December 31, 2008

Going out to eat has always been a huge money pit for my husband and me, because we love it so. But we have found that it feels like almost as much of a treat to go out for just appetizers, or just dessert.

Also, if I plan menus and get the ingredients–and also post that night’s recipe on the refrigerator door–we’re much less likely to go out.

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