Stop Eating All of Your Money!
Ok – I know – we all have to eat. And, eating is expensive!!! It takes a lot of time, energy, and money to make sure everyone is well-fed.
But, as Americans, we are – on average – spending too much money on what we are putting in our mouths!
And this week, we are going to discuss the biggest culprit of food overspending…
On average, Americans are spending 6% of their budgets on food and drinks outside the home – to the tune of right around $3000/year. Now, if you are out of debt, have a 3-6-month emergency fund and on track for retirement savings, and you want to spend $3000/year on eating out, that’s awesome. Seriously – knock yourself out!
However, recent stats show that over 60% of Americans don’t even have $1000 in a savings account. Forty-one percent are in debt to the tune of about $9,300/family. AND…84% of Americans aren’t saving as they should for a properly funded retirement. So, though American’s are eating out regularly – financial experts agree that until we strengthen our financial lives, we really can’t afford to be eating out as often as we are.
I know this – on a deeply personal level – because I was one of them!!!!! When we decided to get our finances under control, we were spending $2000/mo on food – $1200 groceries and $800 on eating out…$800 a month!!!! We had no long-term savings and had only set aside $30,000 for retirement. When we saw all our numbers – down in front of us, I looked at my husband and said…
“WE ARE EATING OUR RETIREMENT!”
We didn’t want to keep eating our retirement, so we made some major changes. Those changes ultimately resulted in the Dinner for a Dollar System. But, leading up to that, we shifted all our habits about food…how we shopped, how we prepped, and how we ate outside the home.
I am going to be honest with you, we are the people who LOVE to eat out. Limiting our eating out budget is still a HUGE act of discipline for us. And, if I am not paying attention, it can balloon out of control – overnight.
I have mastered serving my family $1 dinners. I have. I can do it every night of the week, for the rest of my life, with a blindfold on and my hands tied behind my back. Ok – ha! Maybe not that extreme, but I am so good at it that it’s now second nature. It’s my superpower! But, limiting my eating out??? Still a struggle. We work on it every month and last year, when I was battling cancer, it ballooned out of control again.
All of this to say that if you struggle with limiting eating out – I hear you, I see you, I feel you!
So…. Let’s do this together!!! Now that we are all done fighting cancer, we are committed to getting our eating out back under control and would love for you to join us!
How do you eat out less so you can hit your financial goals?
1) Understand the true cost of eating out
Eating out, on average, costs 325% more than cooking at home. So, every time you eat out, you are spending 3 times more money than needed to fill your tummy and meet your caloric needs. Know this. And then make your decision. When you know that eating out costs $3.25 for every $1 at home, it may help you make a change. Be sure to check out this article for the true financial cost of eating out.
Eating out doesn’t just affect our financial fitness. It also has significant health costs.
According to new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research:
People who frequently cook meals at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories than those who cook less…they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, and less fat than those who cook less or not at all – even if they aren’t trying to lose weight.
A comparison of restaurant meals shows that the restaurant versions contain 1.6 to 3 times as many calories as the home-cooked version. These extra calories, fat, carbs, salt, and sugar have substantial health ramifications!
Eating out also has relevant environmental costs. Eating out can easily yield to up to 3x’s more fossil fuels than a home-cooked meal. While some restaurants can closely mimic the carbon footprint of a home-cooked meal, many don’t. Here is a very detailed, very small-scale study to show how this looks when comparing a home-cooked meal with 2 different restaurants. This study doesn’t factor in the environmental impact of single-use products that might be used in take-out or drive-thru scenarios. If using single-use products is part of your eating out routine, then the environmental impact of your eating out goes up.
So….it cost up to 3.25 times more financially, up to 3 times more nutritionally, and up to 3 times more environmentally.
That is a substantial cost – potentially triple – to your finances, your health, and our planet.
2) Make a Decision to Eat Out Less
This step is really the beginning of lowering your eating out budget. If you’re addicted to eating out (like we were), you aren’t going to be able to reduce or stop that without a serious commitment to change. You just aren’t.
If it has become a habit, it’s hard to stop. You will have to change! And that will require a firm resolve – which *only you* can bring to the table.
This resolve – to get your finances in order, get your health in order, or do your part to get our planet in order – is the only thing that will give you the grit and determination you will need to create change in your life.
So, I recommend you figure out your WHY!
Why do you want to reduce your eating out?
- Are you trying to get out of debt? Save 3-6 months of living expenses?
- Retire with dignity?
- Are you trying to save for Disney?
- Fund a cash Christmas next year?
- Are you trying to get in shape?
- Lower your cholesterol?
- Lower your blood pressure?
- Are you trying to reduce your carbon footprint?
Take a moment to nail that down now. Cause unless you have your WHY firm in your mind, the HOW isn’t going to matter!
3) Make a Plan to Eat Out Less
I am not naïve enough to think that our finances, our health, and our planet are the only resources that are important to you in your life. You are busy. You have a life, a family, a career. You specialize in the hustle and bustle. I get it. We have 4 kids – we homeschool and run 2 businesses. I have a Ph.D. in Hustle with a Masters in Bustle. Don’t ask for proof of my degrees, just trust me on it 😊 .
So, I also know that TIME and ENERGY are important to you. Maybe more important to you than money, health, or the condition of the planet.
Most people resort to eating out because of the convenience. They think they simply don’t have enough time or energy to deal with food every night. If this is you…I feel you. I was there. I believed that I didn’t have enough time or energy to prepare food each night – so we ate out – a lot.
What if I told you, now that I have built the Dinner for a Dollar system into my life, I spend less time and energy on food than I ever have in my life – while also eating better and spending less than I ever have.
How is this possible? Because I have a system.
This blog is too short for me to tell you all the ways I save time and energy with my food system. To learn this, you really do need to check out my book here. If you’re not ready to buy the book, you can sign up here to get a free chapter – which will cover one of the top ways I simplify my home cooking to save time and energy and, ultimately, eat out less.
But, I will mention here that, besides making a resolved decision to eat out less…the top way to reduce your eating out is to MAKE A PLAN.
There’s no shortcut around this. Everyone in your family needs to eat several times a day. The best way to handle it is to PREPARE for it.
Think – ahead of time – about your families’ schedule – who needs what and when.
When you make your food decisions, ahead of time, all at once, rather than every day, 3 times a day, you will spend less time energy on food.
Let me show you what I mean.
Let’s say I am planning my food for the next 2 weeks. I pull out my schedule and I map out who needs to eat what, where, and when. I have taken 2 hours and made all our food decisions for 14 days. We have 6 people in our family and we all like to eat at least 3 times a day. That means that, in 2 hours, I have made 252 food decisions. WOW!!! Pretty cool.
Let’s say I didn’t make a plan. And that same 14 days transpire …as it will in fact do. In this case, without a plan, I will have to make18 food decisions every day, for 14 days straight. Making up to 252 food decisions spread out – about every 4-6 hours – for 14 days straight.
Now, you tell me …which option sounds like it will take more time and more energy?
Right! Those 252 food decisions are exactly why MAKING A PLAN will SAVE YOU TIME AND ENERGY on food – WAY more than eating out ever will.
But, what if you are SICK TO DEATH OF COOKING? Been there…done that…visit frequently. Read here to see what I do to combat this.
4) Buy an Instant PotSeriously – if you haven’t done it already and your eating out is out of control, just do it. It will more than pay for itself. The Instant Pot was a HUGE game-changer for reducing our eating out. And, I recommended it long before I started my blog and created this affiliate link. If you want to read more about how my Instant Pot helps me reduce my eating out, check out this blog here.
I have written half of a novel here 😊, so congrats if you are still with me. We spent so long eating our retirement that I feel EXTRA passionate about this topic. I DON’T WANT YOU TO EAT YOUR RETIREMENT, TOO!!!! I want to help you hit your food and financial goals – so you can get out of debt, save for the unexpected, retire with dignity, and have some fun along the way.
If you’re committed to lowering your eating out budget, join us next week in our Facebook Group where we will be running a “Just Eat-In” challenge. It will be a community-wide 7-day challenge to reduce our eating out. Everyone who sets their eating out goals for the week and hits them will be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of my paperback book.
Watch for an email next week with all the details! I can’t wait to help you save money on your groceries so you can hit your financial goals.
To your future,