Food Solutions

28 Jan

Tonight Ike is going cold weather camping with a group of guys. For those of you who know Ike, I’ll give you a moment to let this sink in. Ok, moment over. I’m joking, he likes camping, and I’m willing to camp (only if Smores are involved) too, but it is not the average Peters family activity. Anyway, the ladies those guys are leaving behind are meeting up for dinner tonight.  I love going out, but I always hate the money aspect of it. That sinking feeling inspired me to share my restaurant money saving tips. We all have this pesky need to eat, but (thankfully) it is not necessary to spend a fortune to nourish ourselves even when going out. Here are some quick tips to streamline your food spending. You can put these savings straight toward bigger purchases, vacations, or even a house or car. Start small and think big, my friends.

Brown Bag it & Cook at home

I hate to say it, but the easiest way to save food money is to not go out.

Step 1:
Take your own lunch to work. I’m living proof that it can be done. I ate a sandwich or leftovers (nearly) every day for 2 years at my last office job, and as you can see, I’ve lived to tell the tale. To my frugal pals out there, this is a no brainer. But to those of you, who are still unconvinced, let’s do some simple math. Let’s says Bobby eats out 5 times a week, in addition to extra gas spending, he’s probably shelling out about $40 a week. Multiply that by 50. The grand total?  $2,000! I can think of about 2,000 better things to do with that money! Even if he ate cheap and only spent $25 a week that is still $1,300 just on lunch.

In comparison, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of jelly cost $6-8 bucks all together and those supplies will feed you for more than a week.

Step 2: Cook dinner at home as often as you can. I’ve harped on this one enough. Plan your menu and stick to the list when you go to the store. Gradually add new menu items to stave off boredom and if you are a super star, add $1 items once a week. Believe me, your bank account will thank you.

Reduce restaurant cost

Hey! I know getting out sometimes is necessary. At work, lunch is crucial to productivity and getting your afternoon boost, so I’m willing to compromise. If you must eat out, try to keep it to once a week (or less). You are cutting down on spending and you will still have time to complain about office politics with your favorite co-workers. Plus, especially in a new place, a night out is a great way to build new friendships. So restaurant outings are necessary, every once in a while. Here are a few tips to cut the cost at restaurants.

Step 1: Order water. If your taste buds are used to flavor in your drinks, this will take some getting used to. But if you are going out, eliminate some cost by passing on a soft drink or tea. Plus, this way you won’t be drinking your calories or staining your teeth. Silver lining, right?

Step 2: Share or order small. Another quick restaurant tip, if you aren’t starving, share or order from the kid’s menu. I’ve enjoyed the kid’s menu at all fast food places, and even more fancy-schmancy joints like Pei Wei. And while most men cringe at that word “share”, nearly all restaurant portions are huge and can easily be split between 2 adults. Try it, and if you leave hungry, you can totally shake your fist in my general direction. If I’m without Ike, I usually try to arrange a sharing partner when I go out. That may be lame, but it will help your money saving attempts become a reality.

Right, I know these tips aren’t earth shattering, but being more conscience about your money is. Paying attention to how much you spend on food will probably guide you to eat out less and control cost when you do. Restaurant costs (and coffee and bottled water) are some of the easiest non-essential things to cut out of your budget. It may be hard at first, but once you change your habits it will be even harder to spend lots of money on food. So…you’re welcome.

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