You probably remember a fun dinner celebrating a birthday or anniversary with friends and family. But what you may not realize is how much dining in and eating out goes unnoticed. The small grab-and-go lunches, fast casual dinners, pizza delivery, and coffee add up over time and the results can be costly. Here are some easy-to-implement steps to reign in these expenses.
Meal Planning. Look at your week to determine the following:
- How many times a week do you eat out or have food delivered?
- Which meals are you having delivered or eating out? Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Late-Night Snacks?
- Why are you eating out or having food delivered? (i.e. lack of planning, lack of time, convenience)
Now consider which of these could be replaced by something you make at home. Changing just a few can help your budget.
Buy Frozen Foods. Most frozen food is a lot cheaper than delivery and eating out. With a lot of great options in the freezer section from famous brands and restaurants, you can still eat the foods you love at a fraction of the cost.
Approach Social Gatherings Differently. Social engagements with friends over delicious food don’t have to break the bank.
- Find off-peak times to eat and socialize, brunch is usually cheaper than dinner.
- Take advantage of happy hour for bargain pricing on food and drinks.
- Split the cost of delivered meals when having people over.
Stretch Your Meals. When eating out or having food delivered, think about meals for the next few days. Order a little more, or portion out your meal to cover your lunches for the upcoming week.
Eat Your Leftovers. 40% of the food in the U.S. is wasted each year. To save money, you actually need to eat leftovers, otherwise, you’re just throwing money away.
Brew at Home. A daily coffee habit can be costly. Buy a decent coffee maker and start brewing at home to save money in the long run.
Spot the Deals. If you’re going out or ordering in, you can still be a savvy shopper by looking for promo codes, coupons, or membership services to reduce your costs and help you save money.