A couple of months ago I decided our family needed a change in our eating out habits. For me, the reason behind this went far beyond the obvious financial and health benefits (although these are definitely perks). Both my husband and I grew up in very small towns where eating out wasn’t much of an everyday option. It was a special thing to go out for a meal and I can honestly say that because of this I grew up valuing the fact that a meal out does indeed cost quite a bit more than staying in. However, now that we live in a little bit larger of a town and our lives our getting busier it felt like we were using eating out as a backup plan way too often. Therefore, I posed the challenge to my husband of us not eating out for one solid month. He agreed with my reasoning and, he was very ambitious as far as the financial savings we could see.
We decided on this challenge back in November, but we were realistic with ourselves in the fact that taking the challenge in either November or December would probably end in failure due to the holiday season, birthday celebrations, and being out and about more often to get everything ready for such events. Therefore, our month of choice was January. We even decided to take it a step further for ourselves and not do any sort of eating that was premade for us. This meant along with no meals in restaurants, we also would not be going out for desert or coffee and we wouldn’t buy things in the grocery stores that were premade (such as take and bake pizza or a rotisserie chicken). This seems a little extreme once I type it out, but it is supposed to be a challenge.
As I stated above, our big problem that lead me to this was we were using eating out as a backup plan. We would be out shopping or running errands and realize it was a meal time and then realize that we didn’t have anything ready so we could cook at home or we would have something ready to cook but it didn’t sound tasty anymore and we would resort to eating at a restaurant. We’ve been doing weekly menus for a really long time, but sometimes we get into a rut or my thought process isn’t very unique for a couple of weeks and we tend to make the same thing over and over again. Therefore, about a week prior to the start of January I thought of every meal I could and wrote all of them down. As more time goes on and something else pops into my head or I see a good recipe, I go and write it on the list. When the start of a new week is approaching, I look at the list and write out a menu that has a variety of meals. At the beginning of the week I go to the grocery store and purchase what is needed for the menu so we know we have everything and each morning we make sure that the meat for dinner is out of the freezer so it is ready to go that night.
We are almost halfway through the month and my husband and I are absolutely loving that we accepted this challenge for ourselves. Not only are we saving a little money, but we are also finding that eating at home is more enjoyable than going out in most cases. We have two very small children that do not grasp the concept of the restaurant atmosphere. They would much rather be at home where they can get down from the table when they are done eating and go play with their toys rather than stay sitting while mom and dad are done and then get their coats on, go out in the cold, and then get to go home and play. Also, this challenge has highlighted the fact that we own pretty much every kitchen gadget made and we are able to make whatever we are craving with ease. We both love to cook and this has made us happier and more appreciative in our kitchen and home.
Have a happy day!