Let’s not beat around the bush. Eating out is eating up your future. It’s gobbling down your present and keeping you stuck in the past. That heavy debt you’re hauling around didn’t happen while you were asleep. Chances are pretty good that you’re eating your way into debt.
Breaking the eating out habit isn’t easy to do, but it can be done. What it takes is motivation, determination, and perseverance.
Let this exercise act as a quick-start motivator: For one week, track your household spending on every form of eating out including coffee, donuts, restaurants, cafes, diners, street vendors, food trucks, fast food … all of it.
Once you have that number, multiply by 52. But wait, there’s more. Estimate the cost of all of the food that you throw in the garbage every week because you buy it, then eat out instead. You may be looking at the reason you aren’t saving for retirement, building an emergency fund, or stuck in debt.
I don’t want to get too graphic here describing a negative motivation that might persuade you to eat at home more often, so let me allow the CDC to do that: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one in five restaurant workers admit coming to work while sick with diarrhea and vomiting—two main symptoms of the stubborn norovirus, which understandably is now running rampant.
The problem lies with these sick workers who take a bathroom break, do not wash their hands with soap then return to prepare and serve our food. Not only is it expensive to eat out, but your chances of getting sick are also increasing.
The best way to break the eating out habit is to never let yourself get too hungry. This is the big one for me. If I have not planned ahead and then crossed the line into emergency territory where I must eat right this minute, I’m doomed. I can’t think straight. I need food and I need it now.
Create menu plans, prepare lunches, post a dinner meal schedule on the fridge. When everyone in the family knows what’s coming up for the next meal, you’ll stop defaulting to McDonald’s so often.
Anyone can learn how to make tasty meals. It requires commitment, good recipes, fresh ingredients, and practice. There is no shortage of teachers and training on the Internet. Check Food.com and Allrecipes.com for videos, recipes, and tutorials. If you’re a fan of Asian fast food, as I am, check out RecipeTinEats.com. Food blogger Nagi will teach you how to make the most amazing fast meals with everyday ingredients.
Keep it special
Make eating out rare—something you choose to do on important occasions. Mark it on the calendar so you can look forward to this as a special treat. Anticipate, celebrate. Choose a cuisine that you cannot make yourself and you’ll enjoy it even more.
If eating out has become part of the fabric of your life, you’re not alone. And it’s not likely you can break the eating out habit overnight. But you can get started. One step after another, if you will just keep moving in the right direction, even the baby steps will count. Soon you’ll notice a significant change and your bottom-line will be better for it.
First published: 6-9-14; Revised & Updated 7-18-19
Question: How often do you pay others to cook and serve you a meal?
You might also enjoy: