Eating out is a favorite indulgence of this writer. Sometimes, it almost doesn’t matter what’s on the menu or where the food is served. There’s something intoxicating about getting to order food and have it arrive hot at your table, with no effort on your part. Never mind that restaurant food is usually fatty, saucy, oozy, goozy delicious. Restaurants aren’t trying to keep you healthy – they’re trying to keep you coming back for more and swiping your credit card at their iPad POS. It all makes going to a restaurant a point of excitement and happiness, no matter how many times you do it.
But we also know that eating out frequently is expensive. Some of us may be able to afford it with no problems, but others will eat out only to see their bank accounts drift and their debt increase. Eating out everyday is extremely expensive. Even eating out two or three times a week will create a monthly bill that exceeds the cost of rent and utilities, at least in some cases.
The thing is, going cold turkey on restaurants doesn’t work for most people. The convenience, the flavor, the service – we just can’t quit. Instead of telling people to stop eating out, in order to save money, sometimes there’s a better way. People who save money eating out do best when they simply adopt a higher standard. Here are some ways that this can happen.
Only Eat What You REALLY Love. If you were to rank every restaurant you go to on a scale of 1 to 10, let’s be honest, you’d have numbers all over the place. We don’t eat awesome food every time we go out. Instead, we settle. We like going out to eat, so we let ourselves pay for a 4 or a 6, simply because it is fun or convenient. If you want to save money, it’s time to make sure that everything you eat is a 10. If a restaurant doesn’t do it for you, cut it out of your life. Be brutal, we’re about to make some changes to your behavior, and we want the time you eat out to really pay off.
Only Eat Out as Often as You Can Afford. So you’ve got your list of restaurants that blow your mind. Some of these will be amazing takeout, others will be fancy – it really doesn’t matter so long as you really like these places. Now take a look at your budget and see what you can reasonably afford to spend each week, while still saving, paying off debt, and all of that other stuff. If that’s $50 a week, stick to that. If it’s more or less, figure that out and don’t make concessions. Every time you spend that money, make sure it is at one of the places you identified above – a restaurant that blows your mind. That reward will make this worth it.
Learn to Cook for Health, Knowledge, and Enjoyment. Learning to cook great food is a wonderful thing. You’ll be able to afford better ingredients than you could relying on restaurant ingredients. In the end, this could make you healthier, costing you less in medical costs in the future.
All of these savings opportunities stems from having higher standards for what you eat at restaurants. If it’s not good, it’s not worth your money. If it’s not in the budget, it’s not something you’ll eat. This is a great thought process to make your eating life more affordable.