Are you eating your way into debt? Figuratively speaking, one of the biggest categories of debt in your budget is food.
Depending on your lifestyle or how you were raised could play a big part into what you spend on food. An article from USAToday on the cost of groceries for a family of 4 averaged at $191.00. Now that can depend on what part of the United States you live in, or country. The type of food you eat (meat, carbs, vegan, etc) to having a local farm at your fingertips.
I would say the number above is fairly accurate for our family. We have a family of 5 and one eats on his own most of the time. My children are grown, so they are big eaters.
I cap my grocery budget at $160.00 per week. I generally stay pretty close, unless there is a special occasion. I also allow an extra $20 per week for beverages if I am driving a lot.
What is The Real Cost of Eating Out?
It starts as one lunch out with your co-workers or friends and before you know it, you are eating out every day instead of bringing your own meal. Or perhaps a monthly date night or a trip through the fast food drive through and your budget goes out the window.
Whatever the reason, eating out comes at a great expense. Not only is the food usually less healthy, but it can have a huge negative effect on your finances. Here are some reasons that eating out often is a bad idea, and how you can change your habits.
Cost of Food
First of all, it costs more to buy food from a restaurant than directly from a grocery store. Not only are you paying for the food, but also for the service, the location of the restaurant, the cooking methods and a host of other things. It makes sense why cooking your food at home saves a considerable amount of money.
The Tendency of Ordering More
Another thing that happens when eating out is a sense of wanting to enjoy the experience by adding on to it. Most people will not go out and eat only the main course. They will be tempted to purchase some or all of the extras. Appetizers, drinks, and dessert are generally added to the meal. This adds up quickly, even when you are eating at a fast food restaurant.
Tips and Extra Expenses
When you go to a restaurant, are you really considering all the financial factors involved? Added to the price of your entire meal are server tips, which are non-negotiable at sit-down restaurants. Then there are potential costs such as parking, valet, coat check tips, the gas to drive there and more. Do you really know how much you are actually spending on your meal out?
What Habits Are You Creating?
Something else to consider is the habits you are creating. When you eat at home, you will have food remaining that you did not use to prepare your meal. You are then able to use that for lunches or another meal. Also, you will be less likely to eat out the rest of the week if you have started off on Monday with a good, home-cooked meal. This forming of healthy habits will save you money in a domino-like effect.
Are There Better Ideas?
What can you do to avoid eating out constantly? Meal planning is a great way to avoid food waste and make the most of your finances. At the beginning of the week, take a look through your fridge and cupboards and think of what recipes you can make from what you already have. Then prepare a grocery list for the items you need and don’t yet have.
Go shopping and then come home and prepare lunches and suppers for the week. Freezer meals and slow cooker recipes can be a great time saver if time is an issue for you. There is really no excuse not to cook at home when it can be so convenient and takes so little of your resources. You can avoid eating your way into debt by planning out your meals.
As you can see, there are many reasons why one should consider cutting out one’s habit of eating out or at least keeping it to a minimum. For a variety of reasons, eating out is more expensive by a long shot. Save your money while saving your health, and just eat at home.
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