We all know eating out is expensive but do know exactly how much more you’re getting charged than if you were to cook at home? Restaurants.com reports that pop is marked up 800%, potatoes 977%, pizza 600 to 800%, salmon 900 – 1000%, chicken noodle soup has a 1650% markup, and since eggs wholesale for less than 10 cents apiece — and are one of the least labor-intensive dishes — they are one of the absolute most marked up restaurant foods with the average egg dish costing $5-$12.
Eating out is easy, fun, and quick but if you find yourself indulging a bit too much you may be pushing your wallet to the limit. Today, I’ve got 8 quick tricks to get yourself to eat at home more.
8 Quick Tricks to Get Yourself to Eat at Home More…
1. Don’t let yourself get too hungry or tired.
Who hasn’t been on the way home after a long day at the office and you know the last thing you want to do is cook a meal. Be sure to take an actual lunch break and eat snacks throughout the day if you need to. Also, resist the urge to stay up late scrolling through an Instagram black hole into the wee hours of the night so you get all the sleep your body requires.
2. Plan ahead.
Having a plan in place will help you end that omnipresent question: “What should we eat for dinner?” Pre-planning your meals for the week really doesn’t take that long (use these free meal-planning calendars) but it makes a huge difference with how much time and money you can save by doing so.
3. Make it fun.
Turning on some fun music or a favorite podcast can easily make a less-than-ideal task more enjoyable. I love to turn on a podcast when I’m cleaning, cooking, or organizing around the house.
4. Cook with others.
Round up some friends and make some freezer dishes for the week. This is one of my favorite tips because not only do you get to hang out with your friends doing something for free you also get to be productive.
5. Get creative.
Lately, I haven’t been a very big proponent of experimental cooking. For me, it always turns into a so-so dish and 3 ingredients I never touch again. BUT, I’ve found that if I combine this tip with the one above I can try something new without the possibility of a risky expense. Invite over your favorite friends who also happen to be great cooks and have them teach you how to create one of their most creative dishes. Ask them to bring over some of their exotic spices and oils too so you’re not stuck with a $10 bottle of an ingredient you’re not gonna re-use. Of course, you’ll want to share what you have available too so you don’t fall into the “mooch-zone.”. (I’ve been there so I’m hear to warn you about it.;)
6. Make it easy.
I’ve been trying to not make life any harder than it needs to be. I have perfectionist tendencies which can sometimes be prohibitive. Sometimes, unless I know I can do something 110%, I won’t even start on it because I won’t be able to do it just right. This characteristic works for me in a lot of areas in life (like my photo business), but it doesn’t work so well in the cleaning around the house area of life. Unless I have a good 2 hours to clean the bathroom I usually won’t start that task. Whereas my husband, Aaron, will do a quick swipe and sweep of everything and call it good. I’ve tried to learn from him with how he approaches cleaning. I tell myself, “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be considered ‘done.’” Sometimes, good enough is just that, good enough. When you’re focusing on cooking at home more often, you’ve got to make it easy on yourself. Cleaning up is a part of cooking at home so I’ve started using Clorox® Pump ‘N Clean™ Kitchen & Dish Cleaner. If your kitchen is dirty, you’re less inclined to want to cook at home. But if you clean as you go, you’ll have a clean kitchen to cook in. I can hold the baby in one arm and cook with the other. Then, with a quick grab of the sponge and a pump of the Clorox I’ve got my kitchen cleaned up and I can get on with my life. I’ve found that if you can make the whole process of cooking easy, you will do it way more often!
7. Remind yourself how much healthier eating at home is.
While eating out is costly, it is also usually not incredibly healthy. When you cook at home you know everything that goes into your food and that is obviously a very good thing. In restaurants we can only assume what’s in our food, and even if something is marked as “heart-healthy” or “a slim pick” or something like that you don’t really know what’s in it. Plus, you have no idea if the cook washed their hands after that last visit to the restroom. Not trying to gross you out but you what I’m speaking the truth here.
8. Calculate the real cost.
Okay, so, you make, let’s say $20 an hour. Your dinner out costs you $46.00. Do you really want to spend approximately 2.5 hours of your life for that ONE meal out? When you think about it like that it makes that meal out way less enjoyable…especially when you figure that you could get a bunch of groceries for that amount and make a lot of meals.
Saving money and enjoying life is all about trade-offs. Sometimes eating out is worth it, and sometimes it’s not. That’s something you’ve got to decide for yourself. When you do eat out, make the most of it. Don’t choose items that you can make at home, and get int the habit of taking half of your meal home so you can get at least 2 meals out of it!
Do you have trouble with eating out too much? What are your tips for getting yourself to eat at home more?
This post is sponsored by Clorox—helping you clean on the go for a happier home.
Love the tips! We’ve been making an effort to eat at home more, and I can’t believe my bank account balance at the end of the week! It has made a huge difference in the money we save, even when I feel like I am “splurging” on groceries. I love trying out new recipes I find on Pinterest, and anything that can be prepped and put in a crock pot is a huge help for me because I usually don’t get home until 6pm.
Crock pots are miracle-workers!
I’m so sad meal planning does not work for us. The needed portions are just too unpredictable. My boyfriend owns his own business and has to alternatively and unpredictably work away from home/very fisically/in the home office..so I end up with a huge menu for myself or with not enough food for my hungry builder. I don’t have a freezer either. I just keep ingredients ready and know how to make a menù in 25 minutes. We only eat out to celebrate, and only in places really worth the money! If I have nothing at home to take as lunch, in my break I go get rice cakes and a veggie spread, and once I got a small serving of fries…but that’s rare!! Food is definitely not where I can save a lot right now..
I signed up for CookSmarts this year and it has saved me tons of money. It costs $70 for the year and they send you a meal plan each week. Their meal plans are diverse so you get Asian, Thai, German, Mexican, American… You can google it for more info but it has saved me a ton of money. I hate to cook at night so I dig in and make all of the meals on Sunday and I’m set for lunches and dinners for the week. I’m also usually able to freeze a few servings for “emergency” situations. Awesome return on investment for my $70.
I finally broke my fast food habit by having easy options available at home. It is easier to stick a pre-cooked meal in the microwave even than to hit the drive thru.
I love the tip about thinking of the cost in terms of the amount of work it takes you to earn that money! We rarely eat out (maybe once a month), and it certainly saves us money for our family of 5.
Great tips! I also try to make sure I’m not out and about around meal times. When I make plans with friends, I schedule them for afternoons or evenings after dinner. Otherwise, if we get together close to lunch or dinner time, my friends will always ask if I want to grab something to eat too. When you’re hungry, it can be hard to say no.
I’ve definitely started ordering water more when I’m out. Drinks are SO overpriced. My friends and I do a lot of small potlucks at home now instead of eating out. And I aways have fruit snacks in my purse in case I get hungry while running errands. Great list!
A lot of my saving success has come from learning to cook my favorite eat out cuisines and replicating them at home. If I feel like sushi, home made pasta, butter chicken & naan, Thai Currie, pizza, steak…. I can just make it at home for just a few bucks. There is something satisfying about getting to eat sushi practically 3 days a week! Plus most foods are cheap when made from scratch – pasta is litterally flour, salt, water and egg. $0.40 per person… Yep.
Loved this article! Eating out only continues to go up in overall price and doesn’t taste half as good as a home cooked meal. There were great tips about ways to make it fun and creative while saving money at the same time. Also, I had no idea those items listed in the beginning were marked up that much by restaurants! Crazy!
I spend my money on eating out I don’t know why I only cook 2 a week I know it’s bad I need help