Over the past year, my husband and I set some financial goals that forced us into the uncomfortable task of looking at our spending and finding expenses to cut. It didn’t take much analyzing to realize we were spending a small fortune on eating out at restaurants.
I’ve always loved dining out and find so much enjoyment in the experience of conversing over an extended dinner out with friends or family, complete with a spread of appetizers and drinks. I was a little bummed to realize that I actually needed to commit to cutting down this expense.
Truthfully, I felt like it would be a little disappointing to eat at home almost all the time; it was nice to have something enjoyable to look forward to during a long workweek.
However, now that we’ve spent considerable time committed to this goal, we’ve found ways to make eating at the kitchen table instead of a restaurant booth enjoyable and something to look forward to just the same. Plus, we are loving the cash that we save, and it’s nice not dragging myself outside in the winter!
Here are the ways we now make eating at home more exciting.
START BY SIMPLIFYING THE PROCESS
It can be so easy to default to eating out because the process of making dinner can be so time-consuming. Since I’ve been eating at home more, I’ve been working on streamlining the grocery shopping and meal prep tasks. As I’ve come up with more of a process, I’ve cut my time down in the kitchen each night substantially and thus reduced my urge to give up and go out somewhere.
There are so many effective ways to meal prep. Personally, I pick out a few recipes for the week and do one grocery shopping trip for all of the ingredients. On Sundays, I prep what I can for the recipes I selected, like chopping any vegetables and mixing ingredients for sauces. Having this done ahead of time makes putting the meal together so simple. See more tips and tricks for meal planning here.
Over the last few years I’ve been building up a collection of recipes that I keep printed out and in binders. Some great recipe ideas are 9 Easy, Healthy, AND Kid-Friendly Recipes , Whole 30 Made Easy-Tips, Recipes, and More!, and Easy Crock Pot Dinner Ideas (For Real).
I also use Emily Ley’s Go-To Meals printable to easily keep track of my family’s favorite recipes for when I don’t have much time to put together a grocery list.
USE A MEAL DELIVERY SERVICE
If you’re just starting out with your goal of eating at home more, or you’re in a recipe rut, try a meal delivery service like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef, Sunbasket, Plated, or Marley Spoon. I’ve tried all of these companies and think they are all great.
Using a meal delivery service is more expensive than buying traditional groceries, but cheaper than eating out. It also saves you a ton of time at the grocery store and sends you recipes you may never have come across otherwise. First time subscribers usually get a discount as well.
I’ve discovered that eating at home isn’t all dried beans and canned soup. No matter what you buy at the grocery store, it’s likely cheaper than buying that same meal at a restaurant. So treat yourself and grill steaks, load up on your favorite produce, and buy the cheese from the fancy section! (I think we can all agree that fancy cheese is the ultimate treat!)
MAKE IT SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
Start some at-home traditions you can look forward to. Personally, we do “grill-out Fridays” in the summer (some great recipe ideas are here) and post-kiddo-bedtime date nights in the colder months. We’ll wait until late to cook, choose a meal that our daughter probably wouldn’t enjoy eating (like spicy wings or pasta with seafood), and watch Saturday Night Live while we dig in.
Make your meals an experience so that it’s a part of the day you eagerly look forward to. Take time to set the table, all sit together, maybe pour a glass of wine, and recap your days. Avoid the urge to eat in front of the TV or grab food at separate times.
MAKE IT SOCIAL
One of my favorite parts of dining out is the social aspect of it. However, decreasing your time at restaurants doesn’t mean you have to decrease your social calendar. Instead of meeting up at a restaurant, host potlucks, board game nights, or game watching parties at your house.
Set up your patio to rival the outdoor dining spot at your favorite restaurant. String up lights, set up a fire pit, install some outdoor speakers, upgrade your patio furniture, and enjoy your own outdoor oasis.
How do you make the experience of eating at home more exciting? Comment below!
One Year Ago: It’s a Baby Year: There Are No Rules and The Points Don’t Matter
Two Years Ago: Romantic Desserts – 1 Simple Recipe, 3 Elegant Presentations
Three Years Ago: No More Valentine’s Day Rules: Celebrate However You Want!