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General Discussion => Throw Down the Gauntlet => Topic started by: SoccerLounge on January 13, 2017, 05:55:07 PM

Title: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: SoccerLounge on January 13, 2017, 05:55:07 PM
Yeah, all my fellow restaurant suckas! YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS! Because, I mean, everyone's cellphone has a clock on it. Except mine just says "IT'S NOT TIME TO GO TO A RESTAURANT!" Bam!!

Let's bring this back for 2017, which I would have done earlier if I hadn't been neglecting the forum so much since the New Year (sorry!) My personal goal this year, having ummed and aahed about the way I approached it last year, is to keep working on the habit that going to restaurants had become. Like many habits, it had crept up on me without me realizing and needs continual mindful engagement to keep in check.

Sound off, and let the good home-cookin' times roll!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: recklesslysober on January 13, 2017, 07:14:42 PM
Posting to follow. I've been doing pretty well the past couple of months, but I want to keep it up! I was able to pay so much more on debt by eating out less.. Losing weight and eating healthier are a bonus too!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: mires on January 13, 2017, 07:58:07 PM
It's incredible how easy it is to fall back into the habit and how much it adds up! Behind groceries, cutting out restaurants (mostly fast food) is the second largest change I made since discovering MMM. I was spending roughly $100 per month just on lunch and about the same on dinners. Now I am down to under $25 eating out per month total. This is for my girlfriend AND myself.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Secretly Saving on January 13, 2017, 10:13:58 PM
We made a commitment to cut our food costs at the start of 2017.  Now, almost two weeks in, we're doing ok.  I think we can save a huge chunk of cash this way.  Time will tell.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Miasmata on January 13, 2017, 10:28:05 PM
Always a tough start coming off from the holidays, and hopping back into work and being so tired.  Done well so far -- 1 restaurant, 1 pizza.  Both due to renovations ongoing on the house, so I feel justified.

Hit a good glide slope at the end of 2016 -- Kids like Pho, and a family of 4 can be done for <$30 at a nice place we found.  Sweet Pea Chef subscription for meals and recipes help plan, shop and stick to that plan much better than we tried to pick out all recipes ourselves.  Usually swap out one of hers a week with a family favorite, but fun to see some stuff you would never have thought of and give it a try.

We will see if we can keep it below $100/mo dining out.  Rule for the 2nd half of 2016 was that it was ok to go over that if it's because you were working more or doing a side hussle that brough in more than the dining out cost -- I just can't wake up early, take care of some side stuff, work out, work all day, grab kids and take care of more side stuff and also cook dinner.  One has to give if I have to take care of consulting or whatever that day.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Mezzie on January 14, 2017, 05:42:29 AM
I was doing all right, but I totally fell off the wagon this week. I have perfectly delicious food at home, too!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: SachaFiscal on January 14, 2017, 08:28:51 AM
Last night I was super tired and didn't feel like cooking so I was about to text my husband and ask home to pick up take out on the way home.  I tried to think of what I wanted and none of it sounded as good or healthy as a simple meal I could make at home. So I got up and cooked some pasta (10 mins). I threw a handful of cashews in a bowl of warm water to soak. Meanwhile I got a package of roasted Brussels sprouts and a package of veggie Italian sausage from TJs that I had in the fridge leftover from a New Year's Eve party grocery shopping spree. I sautéed the sausage with some red onions then threw in the sprouts to heat up. By then the pasta was done so I drained it and started working on the sauce. Just tossed the cashews in the blender along with half a jar of pasta sauce from my pantry and it was ready in less than a minute. I Assembled the meal within minutes as my husband arrived at home. it was delicious and somewhat healthy and tasted better than anything he would have picked up on the way home.  And it only took about 15 minutes to prepare, probably less time than it would take to get the takeout.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: frugalfelicia on January 14, 2017, 08:35:56 AM
Restaurants are hard for me! But I have been doing well so far this year, packing lunch for work and making dinner at home. I did get one take-out lunch this week at work, but I paid for it with a gift certificate. There might have been a $10 pizza for dinner the first week of the month as well.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Tris Prior on January 14, 2017, 11:33:19 AM
I'm in. We're not cutting it out entirely, but I want us to be more mindful about when and why we eat out. Eating out because we want something specific that we cannot make cheaply or competently at home, not because we're lazy, don't feel like cooking, or we have failed to grocery shop due to bad weather.

That last one happens a lot at this time of year because we have no car and people don't shovel their walks here, so sometimes we can't get our granny-cart over the enormous chunks of built-up ice and snow to get ot the store. We need to plan ahead better and stock up - perhaps batch-cook and freeze so we don't get caught with no food in awful weather - so this doesn't become an issue. In fact,

I think below $100/month is a good goal. Though, hmm, I think we're at around $60 now. Got a takeout stuffed pizza this week, which was planned. Unfortunately, it was planned because we decided last weekend we wanted one, went to a pizza place that we thought was dine-in, got there and found it was delivery only. Instead of ordering one and sitting there for the hour it takes to make a Chicago stuffed pizza, we went down the street to a sort of hippie-ish diner we've eaten at before. Both our meals were AWFUL. Fail! That's what we're trying to avoid.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: monstermonster on January 14, 2017, 12:14:49 PM
I'm in again! I spent $390 on restaurants last year, and I would like to keep that relatively steady but reduce my bars spending on alcohol for the year ($492.32) and perhaps coffee ($166.27). The big challenges that I'm regularly traveling for work & planning a one-month trip on the trans-siberian railway.

Goals for this year:
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: FIRE me on January 14, 2017, 01:17:44 PM
I've had one meal from a restaurant in the past 4 1/2 months. Total bill with tax was $9.28 (it was carryout so no tip). Not perfect, but not too out of control, I guess.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: minimalistgamer on January 14, 2017, 04:17:34 PM
I've had one meal from a restaurant in the past 4 1/2 months. Total bill with tax was $9.28 (it was carryout so no tip). Not perfect, but not too out of control, I guess.

That's fantastic! Good job.

I've done some spending analysis. Here my results so far -

https://sli.mg/bmtBfA

We intend to do a better job in 2017. Moral of the story, if I can reduce my spending, anyone can! :)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: SoccerLounge on January 15, 2017, 04:56:25 PM
I've had one meal from a restaurant in the past 4 1/2 months. Total bill with tax was $9.28 (it was carryout so no tip). Not perfect, but not too out of control, I guess.
Don't think you're sneaking in here without being congratulated on your recent FIRE! Well done! And, relevantly, it's pretty darn helpful for me to be able to match up statements like the quoted one with facts like "this dude FIREd a couple weeks ago."
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: FIRE me on January 15, 2017, 05:28:56 PM
I've had one meal from a restaurant in the past 4 1/2 months. Total bill with tax was $9.28 (it was carryout so no tip). Not perfect, but not too out of control, I guess.
Don't think you're sneaking in here without being congratulated on your recent FIRE! Well done! And, relevantly, it's pretty darn helpful for me to be able to match up statements like the quoted one with facts like "this dude FIREd a couple weeks ago."

Thanks for that. I have to say, it feels great not to dread Mondays.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: 1967mama on January 15, 2017, 05:56:46 PM
I'm so in again for 2017!!! Does anyone know of a free app to track my restaurant spending?
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: monstermonster on January 15, 2017, 06:32:38 PM
I'm so in again for 2017!!! Does anyone know of a free app to track my restaurant spending?
Mint.

Or just a spreadsheet.

Or pencil + paper.

I'm a big fan of YNAB, though.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: sixkids on January 15, 2017, 07:18:37 PM
I'm in. I spent over $4,000 in 2016 on coffee in the mornings, lunch out at work every day and dinner out with family 4-5 times a week.
Since finding this site and committing, I've spent a grand total of $24. That was going to breakfast with my 3 and 6 year old daughters. Been taking leftovers to work for lunch, drinking coffee from work or home, and eating meals my wife cooks when I get home. It hasn't even been much of an adjustment and it's nice to see my paycheck still in my checking account two days before payday.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: ardrum on January 15, 2017, 08:25:13 PM
This isn't even a challenge for me.  I find most restaurant food to be absolutely disgusting, and who knows how filthy their kitchens are.  The overpriced factor just makes it laughably unattractive on top of the inherent problems with restaurant food independent of costs.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: minimalistgamer on January 16, 2017, 05:26:20 AM
I'm in. I spent over $4,000 in 2016 on coffee in the mornings, lunch out at work every day and dinner out with family 4-5 times a week.
Since finding this site and committing, I've spent a grand total of $24. That was going to breakfast with my 3 and 6 year old daughters. Been taking leftovers to work for lunch, drinking coffee from work or home, and eating meals my wife cooks when I get home. It hasn't even been much of an adjustment and it's nice to see my paycheck still in my checking account two days before payday.

If you don't mind my asking, where do you get your coffee?
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: sixkids on January 16, 2017, 05:45:42 AM
I'm in. I spent over $4,000 in 2016 on coffee in the mornings, lunch out at work every day and dinner out with family 4-5 times a week.
Since finding this site and committing, I've spent a grand total of $24. That was going to breakfast with my 3 and 6 year old daughters. Been taking leftovers to work for lunch, drinking coffee from work or home, and eating meals my wife cooks when I get home. It hasn't even been much of an adjustment and it's nice to see my paycheck still in my checking account two days before payday.

If you don't mind my asking, where do you get your coffee?

I alternate. Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, or McDonald's. DD and McDonald's always included breakfast, too.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: 1967mama on January 17, 2017, 12:52:08 PM
Spent Wasted $6 at McDonalds the other morning on the way to a specialist appointment in the big city with my young son .. It was a treat for him but I immediately regretted the spending and would have done better to get up a little earlier and make him a special breakfast at home. Live and learn ... Again
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on January 17, 2017, 01:24:30 PM
*posting in-between bites of my delicious crockpot Boeuf Bourguignon leftovers*

Goals this year:

* Make at least one big crockpot meal per week.  Freeze extras; feast for days.

* Carry hearty snacks with me at all times so I'm less inclined to be starving while out of the house. (Protein bars are good for taking the edge off. Explore other options.)

* Graaaaadually begin weaning myself off Blue Apron. Maybe develop a repertoire of 10 standard dinners that I can put together without thinking very hard.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OurTown on January 17, 2017, 03:14:28 PM
I'm in.  So far this week . . . $0.  It's only Tuesday.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Fish Sweet on January 17, 2017, 06:00:07 PM
I love eating out, but am also trying to cut it the hell down for 2017.  I'm even a good cook, so I'm out of excuses!  So far in January, I've managed to go to fewer restaurants... but the ones I've gone to have been $$$ on the pricey end.  Whoops.

My February goal is to eat out ONCE, or not at all.  And alternate months where I do eat out with months that I don't.  Great food and fun restaurants are honestly one of my favorite things to enjoy in life so I don't think I'll ever cut it out completely, but I want it to be a fun luxury rather than a 3x a week sort of deal.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: sixkids on January 18, 2017, 05:22:48 AM
I went out last night. My wife burned dinner, so I went to a bar by our house that has a taco Tuesday special. Four giant tacos and a bud light while I waited for them to cook for $9.50, including 20% tip.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: recklesslysober on January 18, 2017, 10:26:39 AM
Went to a friend's birthday dinner on the weekend, $21.72 spent including tax and tip. I'm planning on no more restaurant spending this month.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: minimalistgamer on January 20, 2017, 08:58:22 PM
We have spent $16 on eating out this month. I really don't feel like I missed anything by not eating out as much. I am glad I am not mindlessly spending money like I used to.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on January 21, 2017, 09:40:25 AM
Is this gauntlet to not eat at restaurants or not pay to eat at restaurants?

I can get into stop spending at restaurants. I'd like to be able to average less than $15 a month for lunches and dinners out, except July when I have a family vacation planned (though we will cook at the condo too).

But just eating I can't do. Work requires me to eat at restaurants quite a bit (they pay), already twice this year.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: dividendsplease on January 21, 2017, 09:47:35 AM
I had fast food every friday last year. I'm trying to only have it once a month now. Cut out 3 fridays a month and that's 36 x $7 average that will be going to into a brokerage account rather than down the toilet. Baby steps!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: minimalistgamer on January 21, 2017, 05:29:44 PM
Is this gauntlet to not eat at restaurants or not pay to eat at restaurants?

I can get into stop spending at restaurants. I'd like to be able to average less than $15 a month for lunches and dinners out, except July when I have a family vacation planned (though we will cook at the condo too).

But just eating I can't do. Work requires me to eat at restaurants quite a bit (they pay), already twice this year.
]

I can't speak for OP, but personally for me, the idea is to not eat out as much as I did in 2016. I have done extremely well so far this month, and I think I can continue with this trend. The key is to take lunch to work.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OurTown on January 23, 2017, 06:59:28 AM
Agree with the previous poster, if I reduce my eating out spending it's a great success.  We did a weekly allowance last week.  I took lunches all five days last week, but I spent my entire allowance on Saturday night out with my wife and daughter, lol.  New allowance started yesterday, brought my lunch today.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Tris Prior on January 23, 2017, 08:19:05 AM
I failed this weekend. Was too tired to cook after the Women's March on Chicago. We ordered in Thai. $31. I did get 3 meals out of it because the portions were so huge.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OurTown on January 24, 2017, 02:20:52 PM
So far so good this week.  My wife had an evening meeting yesterday so we met for dinner after work.  Just a southern "meat and three" place.  $25 including tip.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: recklesslysober on January 24, 2017, 02:24:42 PM
Nothing for me last week. :)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OurTown on January 24, 2017, 03:32:39 PM
Planning ahead for the week, I don't see any restaurants on the schedule.  Winning!

However, I do have a business-development meeting at a Starbucks on Friday morning.  (sad trombone sound). 
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OneStep on January 24, 2017, 04:34:36 PM
I'm In! SO and I decided to not eat out for the month of January. So far so good. Maybe we will extend it month by month. Last year we spent $50 or less each month at restaurants. Will shoot for at least half of that.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: MayDay on January 25, 2017, 04:47:57 AM
I picked up pizza to pay my friend for babysitting my kids. Brought one home for us too.  I don't count her pizza as eating out, and ours was 10$.

One daughter was meh about it. One son threw giant fit because I got mushrooms which he doesn't like (I forgot he hated them).

Ugh. Good reminder that it's just not worth it with my kids. They don't appreciate it. 

That is one nice thing about living in a rural place. The restaurant choices are blah, and if we want to drive to get takeout it takes much longer than throwing something together.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: FireHiker on January 25, 2017, 10:25:14 AM
Seems like this should go hand in hand with the reign in the groceries challenge, since eating out is a big part of our food spending historically. My goal is to hit a total target for groceries/restaurants combined, but specific to this challenge I want to dramatically reduce our eating out. We have a long way to go to be actually mustachian in this regard. Last year our January eating out number (family of five, oldest kid is a high school football player, husband and I work together and have had a bad habit of going out to lunch most days) was $629.05. So far this month we have spent $238.52 eating out, $75.06 of which were lunch and dinner for four at Disneyland, no drinks purchased because we brought refillable water bottles from home (we have the cheapest So Cal passes this year, which is definitely not frugal, I know). And, we haven't eaten a single meal out since lunch last Wednesday. I know it is tiny baby steps compared to a lot of you, but at least they are steps in the right direction!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: SoccerLounge on January 25, 2017, 09:07:43 PM
Is this gauntlet to not eat at restaurants or not pay to eat at restaurants?

I can get into stop spending at restaurants. I'd like to be able to average less than $15 a month for lunches and dinners out, except July when I have a family vacation planned (though we will cook at the condo too).

But just eating I can't do. Work requires me to eat at restaurants quite a bit (they pay), already twice this year.

Well, I think with this being the MMM forum, most of us are more interested in the financial aspect. This isn't really intended to be a thread about nutrition or eating choices, per se; more a thread about minimizing unnecessary discretionary (restaurant) expenditure. (Of course, anyone who is trying to avoid restaurants for other reasons is quite welcome to join in.)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Dicey on January 26, 2017, 05:34:09 AM
* Graaaaadually begin weaning myself off Blue Apron. Maybe develop a repertoire of 10 standard dinners that I can put together without thinking very hard.
I noticed that Costco has Blue Apron in their gift card section. I was looking for something else, so didn't check the details, just noted that it was in the mix. It might help you in the weaning process if you can reduce the cost.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Mongoose on January 26, 2017, 08:00:23 AM
That is one nice thing about living in a rural place. The restaurant choices are blah, and if we want to drive to get takeout it takes much longer than throwing something together.

This is so true! It's difficult to justify McDonalds when the nearest one is 35 miles away. And unless you like gas station pizza, cooking at home is the only option. Food for when we do go to town is our biggest hurdle.

Our goal is to make eating out a treat that happens 2-4 times per year.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: monstermonster on January 26, 2017, 08:15:32 AM
$7 for a burrito, chips & tip last night. Feel pretty good about it- I was the one who suggested going out for food when we set up the date. I didn't want to entertain at home (we need to clean the house, plus he's treked to my house the last 3 times we hung out) and his house is too far for a weeknight bike ride  excursion. Was good to catch up. Still under $13 for the month, will likely not go out to eat again.

Got a job offer again, like every single time I hang out with him.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OneStep on January 31, 2017, 08:42:13 AM
Last day of January! No restaurants for me this month. Going to try and extend it for 1 month. Going to be tough, DW wants to do something for Valentine's. I told her I would make her dinner instead. Crossing my fingers that she will go for it.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on January 31, 2017, 09:15:30 AM
No money spent eating out in January for me :)
DH went out once. :(
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: FireHiker on January 31, 2017, 09:49:13 AM
I have brought my lunch today and we'll have leftovers for dinner tonight, so I think it's pretty safe to assume we won't spend anything else on food, either eating out or groceries, this month. My end result for January is $251.22 on eating out, total for my family of 5, which includes two meals at Disneyland. We still have a lot of room to improve here, but the same month last year the number was $629.05. Definite progress, and we're going to keep it up next month.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: 1967mama on January 31, 2017, 10:20:53 AM
Two McDonald's meals this month .. both $6 or less. This is progress for us! On to February!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: monstermonster on January 31, 2017, 10:35:21 AM
$12.50 on Restaurants in January - 2 burritos (one for date night, one with a friend), which feels pretty good as a balance of "enjoying myself" and "not wasting money".
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: recklesslysober on January 31, 2017, 12:51:53 PM
Went to a friend's birthday dinner on the weekend, $21.72 spent including tax and tip. I'm planning on no more restaurant spending this month.

Success!
Title: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: akzidenz on February 03, 2017, 04:21:23 PM
This is something I seriously need to work on. My eating out expenses in 2016 averaged…about $650 per month. I feel a bit embarrassed posting this, because I'm at a way different place in my spending patterns than most people here, and I have a looong way to go.

January was an enormous success in cutting down my restaurant/bar spending—only $320! I'm feeling all fired up about going even lower, now that I've proved to myself I can cut down and still feel perfectly happy. My goal for February is $200. I've mentioned this to some of my close friends, and they're totally down for drinking $5 wine at home with me instead of getting bougie cocktails. So that will help!

I also spent most of 2016 dating someone who was a "foodie", in the sense that he seriously enjoyed eating out at Michelin-starred places, and I think I felt a lot of pressure to keep up. But I'm going into 2017 dating a very dreamy and frugal dude, and his idea of a date night is making smoothies and eating chocolate together at home, which is super cute and also highly aligned with my financial goals right now!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on February 04, 2017, 06:03:36 PM
akzidenz: Don't worry, my food spending was about the same as yours before I discovered this site and got serious. It didn't take much effort to bring that number way down (as you are already doing)!


I'm doing well with my crockpot goals!  Made a fabulous pot-roast that I've been eating for the last few days.

Unfortunately I have found that by meal #3 in a row of the same thing, no matter how delicious, I start to get pretty tired of it. I need to develop a good system for freezing food.

I've also begun planning my future meal rotation. The goal is to perfect two weeks' worth of amazing recipes, then cancel Blue Apron. The main reason I love meal kits is that they reduce the need to spend time planning meals, but the rotation should solve that problem for me. 

(Relatedly, I am shifting my entire wardrobe to be fitted pants with grey/black tunics in natural fibers [+ a select group of accessories] for similar reasons. My goal is to develop new signature "look" that is striking but comfortable and does not require much thought on a daily basis.)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: ringer707 on February 04, 2017, 06:31:05 PM
Joining in! Really trying to cut back. We average about $250/mo but had some really high months last year when we spent about two months in the hospital with a family member and were eating a lot of take out.

I had to drive out of state today and packed both breakfast and lunch so no stops for me. My husband wanted to order Chinese food when we got home and I told him if he wanted it he had to go out and get it (no delivery in our area). I knew he wouldn't feel like leaving the house so we had a great home cooked meal instead :)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: akzidenz on February 05, 2017, 06:32:45 PM
akzidenz: Don't worry, my food spending was about the same as yours before I discovered this site and got serious. It didn't take much effort to bring that number way down (as you are already doing)!


I'm doing well with my crockpot goals!  Made a fabulous pot-roast that I've been eating for the last few days.

Unfortunately I have found that by meal #3 in a row of the same thing, no matter how delicious, I start to get pretty tired of it. I need to develop a good system for freezing food.

I've also begun planning my future meal rotation. The goal is to perfect two weeks' worth of amazing recipes, then cancel Blue Apron. The main reason I love meal kits is that they reduce the need to spend time planning meals, but the rotation should solve that problem for me. 

(Relatedly, I am shifting my entire wardrobe to be fitted pants with grey/black tunics in natural fibers [+ a select group of accessories] for similar reasons. My goal is to develop new signature "look" that is striking but comfortable and does not require much thought on a daily basis.)

marble_faun, thanks for the encouragement! Honestly, participating in these forums has been really galvanizing and encouraging. Whenever I feel an impulse to spend unnecessarily, I'll read through an MMM forum thread on my phone and it renews my motivation. It's nice to have a little community (I'm very susceptible to social pressure, so I cope by trying to stick around people who have the values I want to practice).

Re: having a signature look, I solidified a capsule-wardrobe-like thing a few years ago and it made life really soothing and easy. I have a few stock outfits per season and a set of items that mix and match easily. Last summer I had blue jeans, breezy/flowing white pants, and wide slightly cropped black pants—and then I had a collection of silk/linen tees in a few colors that I could throw together with any of the pants and feel well-dressed in.

(White pants & silk tees don't seem very practical for everyday wear, but I'm very careful to avoid spills!)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OurTown on February 08, 2017, 02:18:37 PM
So far I sort of suck at this challenge.  The rest of you, however, are awesome sauce.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Rimu05 on February 10, 2017, 09:22:54 AM
I'm ashamed to say, I've gotten even worse the past few months. I am even buying breakfast now and coffee. UGH. OTL
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: monstermonster on February 10, 2017, 09:44:46 AM
I've done OK this year. I'm at $24.10 this year on restaurants. Interestingly, 69% of that is burritos at my favorite burrito place that is on the other side of town (a date night, a planned lunch with a friend when I was in his part of town, a sober night out with another friend after work). I feel pretty good about all those expenses.

(http://i.imgur.com/Q13KY69.png)

One was something I sort of regret: I do a work-trade shift one afternoon a week at a hot yoga studio, and I went to the fancy juice place AFTER I ate my packed lunch because I was still ravenous. The granola cup with cashew creme was good, but not $7.50 worth of good.

I've only got $8.00 left in the restaurant budget for the month, and planned out-of-town guests coming for the MMM meetup later this month, so I'll probably move some of my totally unspent bar budget into the "restaurant" category. We won't eat out much, but at least once, since Portland's charms are its cheap & delicious food.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: MandalayVA on February 10, 2017, 11:04:19 AM
I don't forsee us eating out until we move in June.  We'll probably have a final brunch at the place that gave us the idea to move where we're living now, then again on the road to Orlando.  I won't deny we may try some places in our new domicile (winter park has shake shack) but I'm looking forward to having more time to cook.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on February 10, 2017, 11:33:20 AM
Still going strong. Haven't eaten out yet this year.
DH has gone out once- but to be fair, he didn't agree to the challenge :)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: dividend on February 10, 2017, 11:55:22 AM
January is a restaurant heavy month - it contains my city's Restaurant Week, plus my husband and my brother's birthdays.  Restaurant Week is a ton of restaurants doing set menu $15 lunches and $30 dinners.  Depending on the restaurant, that can either be a rip-off (local pizza deli where it's hard to spend $15 for lunch), or a really good deal (homemade pasta trio tasting + ceasar salad + dessert that would normally run ~$30), and I like to use it to try new places too.  I took my brother for sushi, and my husband to a very pricey old-timey steak house that we love.  Spendy month, but no regrets.   

I declared February "Cook At Home" month as a sort of reset.  Well, that, and when I did a thorough pantry/freezer inventory I "found" so much food that we could literally eat for months.  I'll eat at other people's places if I'm invited, and I'll eat free food at work when it's offered, but other than that, zero eating out.  So far, so good.  Eating homemade lentil soup and an orange as I type this, having turned down 2 different offers to meet for lunch.  I balance it out by inviting friends over for dinner or board games or super hero movies and providing copious amounts of oil popped popcorn and an open beer fridge (which people contribute to sometimes).  I've been using Google Drive to good effect to capture recipes to try, track my inventory, do meal planning, and compile my own sort of "cookbook" of recipes that are worth repeating.  Tried a crockpot pork recipe with maple syrup and beer, and a pressure cooker mushroom risotto recipe this week that are both keepers.  I'm doing 52 weeks of crockpot recipes this year - I've done 6 so far! 

I spent $482 in January, and so far $0 in February.  If I end February <$50, I'll consider it a success.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OneStep on February 11, 2017, 05:39:05 AM
So far so good for the year. No money spent at a restaurant. Unfortunately my parents and grandfather will be coming into town tomorrow and they want to go out to lunch. I would prefer to eat at home, but since they don't come up often I don't feel horrible going out.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on February 11, 2017, 11:57:40 AM
I finally learned about freezing meat!  This will be key to my transformation into a Home Cook. The victuals are properly stored, all bundled up in special freezer paper.  We also put up an iron spice rack (purchased almost for free thanks to a tip from a different Mustachian thread) and acquired some new, exciting spices. At last I am ready to begin replicating my favorite Blue Apron meals and start to kick the meal-kit habit!

It was also a good week for non-restauranting (by my former standards of eating out every meal). We ordered a pizza and went out for brunch. C'est tout!

Tangential thoughts:

I used to get Thai take-out allllll the time, to the point where the restaurant employees knew my name and recognized my voice the moment I called in. Now I rarely stop by there. Last time I ordered (several weeks ago), they were like "Where have you been???" and I could proudly state that I now mostly cook my own food. (Though I still love them!)

This got me thinking about how I have enjoyed being a regular at restaurants. I'm a creature of habit. I always go to the same places and order the same things. In the past I became well-known to staff even at seemingly impersonal chains like Dunkin Donuts and Domino's. And recently, my husband stopped into a corner store in a city neighborhood where we lived YEARS ago, and the manager asked how I was doing. 

In a way I miss that aspect of going out and being a familiar presence in our local neighborhood establishments. Somehow, this gave me the sense of being a part of the city community and not just a nameless face in the crowd. I know it's a bit silly, since I'm a customer and the employees are paid to be pleasant. But my feeling is real!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OneStep on February 11, 2017, 01:34:58 PM
I used to get Thai take-out allllll the time, to the point where the restaurant employees knew my name and recognized my voice the moment I called in. Now I rarely stop by there. Last time I ordered (several weeks ago), they were like "Where have you been???" and I could proudly state that I now mostly cook my own food. (Though I still love them!)

This got me thinking about how I have enjoyed being a regular at restaurants. I'm a creature of habit. I always go to the same places and order the same things.

This is me!!! We had significantly cut our restaurant spending with the exception of Thai food. Still "had" to have it once a week. I finally went to an Asian Market and picked up the ingredients for my favorite dish, Pad See Ew. I've gotten close but not quite the same as the Thai place. It's good enough and much less expensive. We had the same relationship with the restaurant. Knew our name and order as soon as they heard our voice.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: ringer707 on February 14, 2017, 01:13:25 PM
Still doing pretty well, we did cave and buy chinese takeout on Friday night. I don't consider this too bad though, since for $25 I got four meals out of my food and my husband got three. Husband is traveling for work this week so no plans for a fancy Valentine's dinner and he loaded me up with leftovers to eat. We have a ton of food in our house right now so I'm going to say no to eating out this weekend. 
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OneStep on February 18, 2017, 06:05:30 AM
So far so good for the year. No money spent at a restaurant. Unfortunately my parents and grandfather will be coming into town tomorrow and they want to go out to lunch. I would prefer to eat at home, but since they don't come up often I don't feel horrible going out.

Well we are still at $0 spending at restaurants for the year. Grandfather insisted on taking care of the check. It was a happy surprise. Have been several occasions where we wanted to go out and get something real quick, but once we started prepping dinner we were glad we didn't go out. Almost 2 months down.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Pizzabrewer on February 18, 2017, 06:31:25 AM
I work in a restaurant and can get one free meal per day, anything on the menu. I usually get a sandwich or a few sliders and not the $28 steak.

I also have a 70% discount on any purchases so my wife and I do dinner occasionally. It's still not cheap though, with tax and tip (on un-discounted amount) it'll be $25-30. Better than going to Longhorn and spending $60-75 (which we used to do regularly) but still not Mustachian. So we don't do it often.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: akzidenz on February 18, 2017, 06:36:52 PM
My eating out expenses in 2016 averaged…about $650 per month…January was an enormous success in cutting down my restaurant/bar spending—only $320! I'm feeling all fired up about going even lower, now that I've proved to myself I can cut down and still feel perfectly happy. My goal for February is $200.

Checking in on my February goal! I've spent about $130 (four meals out, two drinks). I'm surprised—this is way lower than my usual spending, but I don't feel deprived at all. It's comforting to know I can adjust to a lower level of spending and still be very happy. If I can do a few months of $200, I might try to push it even lower…
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Genevieve on February 18, 2017, 09:37:31 PM
Oh man, this is my WORST area of spending. I'm currently on track for 10% less than January... but January was basically $600. So... still bad. I've been concentrating on meal prep so there aren't excuses.

I've only gone out for lunch once, but Mr. G and I have gone out 3x together, mostly as part of having fun on the weekends. We have lots of coffee too. I get coffee instead of a coworking space.

What strategies have you used to help your eating out habit? 
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: 1967mama on February 19, 2017, 01:39:44 AM
Ended up being at an appointment with teen son a fair bit longer than anticipated - would have been so easy to hit a Mcd drive they but we were only five minutes from home and I knew we had lots of good leftovers in the fridge....maybe this is the key for me to stop eating at $@&"#*^ restaurants!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Mezzie on February 19, 2017, 07:40:58 AM
I'm stopping March 1st and intend not to eat out until my husband and I go to Hawaii in June. In the meantime, I've been eating out a lot this month. It may very well even out.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: akzidenz on February 19, 2017, 01:49:08 PM
Oh man, this is my WORST area of spending. I'm currently on track for 10% less than January... but January was basically $600. So... still bad. I've been concentrating on meal prep so there aren't excuses.

I've only gone out for lunch once, but Mr. G and I have gone out 3x together, mostly as part of having fun on the weekends. We have lots of coffee too. I get coffee instead of a coworking space.

What strategies have you used to help your eating out habit?

A few strategies I've been employing (as someone who's pretty spendy in this area, and in 2016 I was consistently hitting $600ish too!)
The big theme of why I eat out is "it's more fun!" so I'm trying to find ways to have that fun at home. And I think it's still useful for me to be able to eat out and spend time with friends—so I'm just trying to find ways to do that in a very affordable manner.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Genevieve on February 24, 2017, 05:18:12 PM
@akzidenz - Great ideas! Thank you!

More later.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: 1967mama on February 25, 2017, 01:51:15 AM
Akzidnez -- Your list is great! It reminds me of a frugal living thing I read years ago -- to drop everything by one level at a time. So if restaurants are our problem, buying a few nice things at the grocery store to eat at home is a step down from eating out. Premium cable package? Drop it to basic before you give it up entirely. Then drop to Netflix. Fancy shampoo? Drop to a drugstore variety.

Anyhoo, thanks for posting
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on February 25, 2017, 06:34:08 AM
No restaurants in January or February :)

Ironically, I'm going to break this gauntlet to go out to eat with a Mustachian who contacted me because she will be visiting the city I live in.  But at least we picked an inexpensive place to go.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on February 25, 2017, 11:07:19 AM
In the last week I felt really fatigued and just wasn't in the mood for anything in the fridge.  So I went back to my old take-out ways.

It turns out that I am pregnant!  Which might account for the tiredness and food flip-flopping. 

Now I have to figure out what pregnant people are supposed to eat.  Sounds like I need to say goodbye to rare steaks and gooey eggs benedict for a while, so that might help bring restaurant costs down.  Goodbye for a while, five-coffee brunch!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: akzidenz on February 26, 2017, 11:59:20 AM
I'm glad I could help! 1967mama, I love that idea of slowly taking things down and growing accustomed to each new level of frugal living.

marble_faun, congratulations! Wishing you a very comfortable and pleasantly frugal pregnancy.

I have a much less exciting update…so far I've spent $222 eating out in February. I'm on my way to brunch with a friend (that I haven't seen in two years!) now, which should be &lt;$30, and that will be my last eating out expense of the month.

I spent $319 last month, so this constitutes a modest but satisfying reduction.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Genevieve on February 26, 2017, 02:38:12 PM
We're on track for a combined month of $430, which is 56% of our long term average of ... $755. So a big change for the better, but oh my gosh, what a staggering sum of money.

We did stock up on groceries so our overall food spending is lower than the average but is still pretty crazy high.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: recklesslysober on February 27, 2017, 11:24:52 AM
The last two months of eating out for me: $21.72/$0.00. Very happy to hit that no spending this month! I did get taken out for dinner on my birthday but I didn't pay for that.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OneStep on March 02, 2017, 12:27:12 PM
Didn't spend a single $ at a restaurant for Jan or Feb. We went out once with family and were not allowed to pay for our own. Work has provided a couple of lunches and one awards banquet in which my wife won a Employee of the Year award for her business group. My wife is super awesome and so is not going to restaurants!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: facepalm on March 03, 2017, 08:31:16 PM
I don't like eating out any more because the opportunity cost leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: monstermonster on March 03, 2017, 08:37:58 PM
I don't like eating out any more because the opportunity cost leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
*badabing*
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on March 06, 2017, 07:12:29 AM
I made it until March 5th before I went to a restaurant.

Technically, I didn't order anything, so ....


But less technically, I ate half of my husband's $11 meal.  Which brings my total restaurant spending up to $5.50 for this year.

As I posted before, it was ironically to meet up with a MMM forum poster who was in town.  And it was really delicious falafel, so- worth it on both accounts.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: ringer707 on March 06, 2017, 07:28:46 AM
Did pretty well in February. $122, which is a little less than half of what we usually do. Still some opportunities to cut so hopefully more progress this month.

Of course it does not help that sparks started shooting out of the knobs of our stove on Saturday... one trip to the Sears Scratch and Dent later and we have a new oven, but it's not being delivered until Friday. Since I am not risking a house fire, the circuit breaker to the current oven is staying off. We did get Chinese takeout on Saturday night that we are still eating leftovers from, but hoping we can be creative this week and not get anymore takeout, or at least limit it to a Costco pizza.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: LindseyC on March 06, 2017, 07:50:54 AM
Oh I am in for this one! My boyfriend loves eating out and I have fallen into the habit. 2017 is going to be the year I break that habit.

The first two weeks of January I spent $155 eating out, the majority of it at a weekend wedding that was super expensive. From January 13th to March 3rd I did not eat out at all, no takeaway or convenience foods either. March 4th I ate out and it was expensive at $46 but I had enough leftovers for another full meal and a snack.

I was sorting thinking an average of $50 a month at the beginning of the year, but I am fairly certain I can get that average much lower (although I'm right on it as of now)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: swick on March 06, 2017, 08:47:31 AM
We have been doing pretty good. No eating out this year so far.

We have had a couple of convenience grocery items instead, but that is okay. We brought some roast chicken over for Grandma's birthday, she said we were not allowed to cook or do anything that would cost  "effort" This was a good compromise to going out to eat (which really none of us enjoy)

We were picking up a bulk food order and Hubby had left work and hadn't had a chance to stop for lunch, so he was hungry. We tossed around the idea of going to a restaurant. Figured because we were tired and hungry wasn't a good reason to go eat, so he added some extra almonds to our order and we enjoyed them on the drive home.

Our grocery store has premade sushi on sale on Saturdays. Hubs doesn't like sushi at all, but it is one of my favorites, but too much work for me to make just for myself. So he stuck some in the cart for me. I didn't argue :)

We do have to go out to celebrate FIL's retirement. We have been told that we are having dinner out to celebrate (the last few times they have wanted to go out, I have been able to convince them to come to our house instead) Not really looking forward to that, especially how it was stated, but I suppose retirement only happens once - hopefully.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: 1967mama on March 14, 2017, 01:59:12 AM
I am going away with my husband for three days, two nights and am challenging myself to NOT eat at restaurants the whole time we are away. He will be at work things and I will bring a cooler and camp in our hotel room, go for long walks, read, etc.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on March 18, 2017, 06:08:30 PM
DH went out for BBQ tonight for a friend's birthday, so our yearly tally is:
DH: 2.5 meals out
Me: 0.5 meals out
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OneStep on March 20, 2017, 08:56:33 AM
We made it until 3/19. Last night after working outside all day, the wife and I decided to pick up Thai food. It was delicious, however not sure if it was worth the $28 we spent. Good news is that it has reaffirmed why we have not been eating out. Cost a lot of money and although delicious its not worth it.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on March 24, 2017, 07:16:30 AM
My parents are in town, and I told them about this challenge.

Their responses:

Mom: "Is that a challenge for you? Maybe you should challenge yourself to eat out every day for a month. I don't think you could do it."
Dad: "It only counts if you pay, right? I mean, I can take you out? Because I want to go out to eat."
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OneStep on March 25, 2017, 06:43:58 AM
My parents are the same way. No matter how often we tell them we prefer to eat at home and not eat out they take it as we are having money problems. They bring my grandfather up with them about once a month and always want to go out, even when we offer to cook burgers which is what they want anyway. Most recent time my grandfather asked if we were having money problems and offered a loan. He was shocked when we explained that we were living this way on purpose and that we are closing in on being debt free minus the house.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: MissPiggy on April 03, 2017, 06:58:22 AM
I'm so glad this thread exists!

As someone with uber frugal parents, I've come around to their way of living and realised that a wasteful life is time, energy and financial freedom thrown down the drain.

Determined to kick the take-away habit. These figures put me to shame:
- $472 spent on take-away and drinks last month ($358 was on take-away food, $96 on alcohol)
- $1329 spent on take-away and drinks this year alone ($839 on take-away food, $414 on alcohol and $76 on misc entertainment)

and here's the big, shameful spend:
- $10,382 spent on take-away and alcohol last year. That's $7573 on take-away food and restaurant dining, $2454 spent on alcohol and $355 on misc.

All I can say is:
(https://m.popkey.co/6bee24/6GJWk.gif)




Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: recklesslysober on April 03, 2017, 11:41:42 AM
and here's the big, shameful spend:
- $10,382 spent on take-away and alcohol last year. That's $7573 on take-away food and restaurant dining, $2454 spent on alcohol and $355 on misc.

The good news is there is soooo much room to cut back and you can make some seriously epic progress right away! I spent about $3,500 on meals out last year ($290/month) and this year so far $21.72 ($7.24/month).
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on April 03, 2017, 10:01:23 PM
Ugh. I've been really bad about restaurants in the last month. I experienced a personal loss of sorts and reverted to my comforting old ways of ordering Thai food, pizza, and Mexican.

Time to dust myself off and get back to cooking.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on April 04, 2017, 08:10:05 AM
We took my Dad out for his birthday, so now our yearly tally is:
DH: 3.5 meals out
Me: 1.5 meals out
Purchased for others: 2 meals (Mom and Dad)

I did however manage to NOT eat any of the take-out meals I had planned for the hospital stay. I decided the hospital food was good enough, even though I had really been craving some of those other things.  And I ordered multiple entrees so DH got hospital food too, so my 3 days there we purchased no food at all (even for home groceries).
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: MissPiggy on April 06, 2017, 08:09:24 AM
and here's the big, shameful spend:
- $10,382 spent on take-away and alcohol last year. That's $7573 on take-away food and restaurant dining, $2454 spent on alcohol and $355 on misc.

The good news is there is soooo much room to cut back and you can make some seriously epic progress right away! I spent about $3,500 on meals out last year ($290/month) and this year so far $21.72 ($7.24/month).

Well done!! $21.72 on take away meals- great improvement on LY even though it's was still relatively low
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on April 25, 2017, 11:14:03 AM
Had more visitors to see the new baby, but when we took them out it was to Huhot where I had a free meal. (Actually when they took us out I had a free meal at mellow mushroom too. So I saved them a bit)

The tally
DH: 4.5
Me: 1.5
Paid for others: 4
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on May 06, 2017, 08:08:35 PM
Yet another baby visitor... SIL.  We went to the winery/distillery and they did a tasting then we got lunch from them. With a bottle of wine, it was $60 for the 3 of us, so not bad.

Yearly total:
DH: 5.5
Me: 2.5
For others: 5
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on May 08, 2017, 08:12:37 AM
Well we went out again with SIL. (But we didn't treat this time)..but today we are meeting up at DH's work and packing our lunch.

So...
DH:6.5
Me: 3.5
For others: 5
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on May 09, 2017, 08:37:36 PM
Well, I finally did it. Quit Blue Apron!

I grew up in a family that ate food from cans, freezer packages, and fast food joints, and I never quite grew out of that. My idea of "cooking" was boiling water for pasta.

Blue Apron really helped me. I began to understand how food worked. How to chop vegetables quickly. How a slab of meat might respond to different kinds of heat and spices.

But after two years of BA meal kits, I felt I had learned all I could from the service. Often I disregarded their recipes and did whatever I wanted with the ingredients they sent.  It had become a crutch, and I wanted more control over my own meals. The system started to seem tiresome.

So I canceled it and replaced it with something much cheaper: a local service that makes monthly deliveries of grass-fed meat raised by farmers in our region.  Two years ago, I wouldn't have known what to do with this stuff... but now I'm dishing up fabulous steaks and chili, supplementing the meat with whatever veggies I want from the grocery store.

It costs about $80/month, whereas Blue Apron cost [ugh] $240/month. And it's way better. A definite win!

By the way, since I first started posting here, my biggest Useless Expense has switched from restaurants to Lyft. Thankfully, it's a much lower useless expense!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: MissPiggy on June 03, 2017, 09:24:40 PM
I'm in. I spent over $4,000 in 2016 on coffee in the mornings, lunch out at work every day and dinner out with family 4-5 times a week.
Since finding this site and committing, I've spent a grand total of $24. That was going to breakfast with my 3 and 6 year old daughters. Been taking leftovers to work for lunch, drinking coffee from work or home, and eating meals my wife cooks when I get home. It hasn't even been much of an adjustment and it's nice to see my paycheck still in my checking account two days before payday.

Having my whole paycheque still in my bank account 2 days before the next payday is a dream and a goal.

Amazing effort sixkids.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: 1967mama on June 04, 2017, 01:11:27 AM
Well, I finally did it. Quit Blue Apron!

I grew up in a family that ate food from cans, freezer packages, and fast food joints, and I never quite grew out of that. My idea of "cooking" was boiling water for pasta.

Blue Apron really helped me. I began to understand how food worked. How to chop vegetables quickly. How a slab of meat might respond to different kinds of heat and spices.

But after two years of BA meal kits, I felt I had learned all I could from the service. Often I disregarded their recipes and did whatever I wanted with the ingredients they sent.  It had become a crutch, and I wanted more control over my own meals. The system started to seem tiresome.

So I canceled it and replaced it with something much cheaper: a local service that makes monthly deliveries of grass-fed meat raised by farmers in our region.  Two years ago, I wouldn't have known what to do with this stuff... but now I'm dishing up fabulous steaks and chili, supplementing the meat with whatever veggies I want from the grocery store.

It costs about $80/month, whereas Blue Apron cost [ugh] $240/month. And it's way better. A definite win!

By the way, since I first started posting here, my biggest Useless Expense has switched from restaurants to Lyft. Thankfully, it's a much lower useless expense!

This is awesome!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Verdandi on June 04, 2017, 03:54:54 AM
I'm in, too. I do eat at restaurants, but I make it a point only to do it on special occasions, and I only go to restaurants that serve high quality, amazing food. For example, we went to a lovely family-run French restaurant for our engagement dinner with our parents and siblings, and it was wonderful. Everyone will remember the good time and amazing food we had there, and I could enjoy the occasion, instead of stressing about it.
For our everyday lifes, we just don't go. We have practised cooking so much that our food is better than most restaurants most of the time. For example, I love pasta with a salmon and pea sauce. In average Italian restaurants, that means a miniscule portion of salmon and a sauce with lots and lots of fat cream. At home, I can have lots of fresh salmon and prepare the sauce with low fat cream cheese, and sometimes even make the pasta. It's cheaper and so much more delicious.
What helps for long work days is a stack of freezer food (homemade freezer burritos ftw!), having snack options, a delicious and healthy meal plan and shopping once a week. Dinner today is chicken tikka, tomorrow we have a potluck barbecue with friends :-)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on June 04, 2017, 09:56:12 AM
Still doing well with this. We have a vacation at the end of June, so we will eat out meals on it. But we got an AirBNB so we will at least do breakfast there.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on June 04, 2017, 04:34:08 PM
Just opened the fridge, saw some ground beef and asparagus, and made a delicious garlic/ginger meatball meal!

I've gotten good at improvising my own tasty, one-pan dinners. All you have to do is spice the meat, cook the meat, then sauté some vegetables in the same skillet, maybe adding a little broth.  (Maybe this seems obvious to everyone else... but to me it seemed like an exciting formula to discover.)

The whole process takes maybe 20 minutes. Just enough time to listen to a short podcast. Much less time than waiting on a pizza delivery. And it's healthier, and cheaper than pizza. A win on all counts!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on June 04, 2017, 05:32:36 PM
I've been waiting years on pizza delivery. No one comes to our neighborhood!

:)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on June 12, 2017, 02:55:03 AM
My parents made a last minute road trip change and stopped by to see us on their way too the US Open. Apparently they mean to treat, but since it was counter service it was a bit strange. They picked up DHs drinks though. And the brewery had surprisingly good food.

That brings our tally to:
DH:7.5
Me: 4.5
For others: 5

Parents swing back this way after the open. They will hit us dinner one of the nights and we plan to home cook the dinner we are on the hook for.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on June 12, 2017, 03:14:43 AM
They're only for special occasions around here. Going out to eat as a group because work colleague is leaving this week, and totally happy to do so.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: monstermonster on June 12, 2017, 09:21:02 AM
$30.56 in May on Restaurants. Not my best month, not my worst. Largely a result of lack of proper meal planning, which hit my grocery bill as well.

I have $130 budgeted for restaurants this month, have spent $4.50 of it. It's so high because I'm traveling to Amsterdam for a work conference for a week, and don't get a per diem unfortunately, though the conference has breakfast & lunch some days.

I love one particular falafel stand in Amsterdam that's affordable and amazing, so that will be a cheap dinner at least twice. I'll need to find something else affordable the other days, which is a tall order in Amsterdam. I'd be happy eating falafel every single night, but I've been informed by my traveling companions they will not be.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on June 12, 2017, 05:57:18 PM
I've been pretty good about not going to restaurants! 

With the exception of a $5 lunch out once a week -- I stick to the core meal and don't add on any sides or drinks or anything, because that's how The Lunch Man gets ya.

My husband and I did have a special occasion to celebrate, so we went out to the four-dollar-sign Steakhouse in town and pulled out all the stops. I ordered filet mignon and an Old Fashioned. Oh!  How I savored every moment, sitting in the tall leather booth under the dim lights, eating steak and talking.

We only do this kind of thing once a year. And as I've found, eating at restaurants less makes eating at restaurants better. I appreciate the experience more!

Now back to my regularly scheduled leftovers and crockpot meals!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on June 19, 2017, 07:01:38 PM
That brings our tally to:




I got a coupon for mellow mushroom for a free father's day pizza. Even though it was my coupon, we'll call it DH's meal was free (and the beer was on Ibotta.)

So we are up to:
DH:7.5
Me: 5.5
For others: 5

Not bad for being almost halfway through the year and entertaining a ton of guests due to new baby.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Feeling Blessed on June 24, 2017, 12:02:03 PM
Count me in!  Does anyone else find that eating out is just a knee jerk habit?  I've been practicing stalling for 10 minutes... look in the frig/freezer.  Pour a little glass of wine.  Think about what you could whip up and how the alternative is driving, waiting, getting low nutrient food, paying too much, more driving.... all of a sudden eating at home looks pretty awesome.  Also, making sure the kids have 'skin in the game'.  When they are begging and I'm trying to change the plan... i occassionally remind them that their dinner out probably costs $20 or we could eat x at home and maybe Mom might have an extra $5 to throw in their stash if we go that route.... i don't use it very often but its really effective when resistance is high.  Also, when traveling, CHEAP EATS.  My town is short on low key cheap eateries but often when traveling, the best restaurants are the off the beaten path ones that trip advisors lists under 'cheap eats'.  So great!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on June 26, 2017, 06:50:07 AM
As planned our trip added quite a bit to the tally.
We ate at:
Friday:
Breakfast at home-
Fuddruckers (used a email coupon so only paid for one meal, again, my coupon, but I'll call this 0.5 of a meal for each of us.)
Urban chestnut brewery
Saturday:
McDonalds breakfast (my meal was less than $2, but still eating out)
Cheesecake Factory (ridiculously expensive $70 for the two of us, but it served as lunch, dinner, and then breakfast.)
Sunday:
No eating out

And although we popped a homemade pizza from the freezer into the oven for dinner after getting home, DH wasn't happy with anything for lunch today (we had some canned soup) so will be going to subway, so that's in the tally.

So we are up to:
DH:12
Me: 9
For others: 5

We have a July vacation that will add to this, but I think we are doing okay for the year.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: monstermonster on June 26, 2017, 09:50:57 AM
International work trip followed by conference back home, and I need a reset on no eating out.

Spent €79.65 in a week in Amsterdam on eating out, which was frugal for most-meals-out-for-a-week (only a few provided conference meals), but greater spending than the previous three months combined.

I think July will be no eating out at all, though it is my 30th birthday, I think I'm more into a nice meal at home (I'm hosting a huge event the next day and need to conserve energy).
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on July 09, 2017, 12:47:07 PM
Our city had a free music festival yesterday, so we stopped by to try a new beer and listen to a band (plus got a 5 mile walk in). We ate at the food trucks, so now we are at:

DH:13
Me: 10
For others: 5

This seems like a lot. We have a multi generation family vacation next week so the numbers will likely double. Will probably only do breakfast in...
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OurTown on July 10, 2017, 07:30:51 AM
Actually, I have not been inside a restaurant in July!  Improvement?  Yes.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Chesleygirl on July 12, 2017, 12:39:38 PM
Re: Restaurants.  It's now customary to tip 20% or more for the meal. I've heard of customers being confronted by management when they left "only" a 25% tip. I have nothing against tipping, but it used to be 15% was customary. So due to the increase, I no longer dine out at sit-down restaurants. That means, of course they don't get my business anymore but I also win because I save a LOT of money this way.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Cassie on July 12, 2017, 03:20:53 PM
WE always tip 20% unless the service is bad or the waiter very rude. In many states the workers only make less then 3/hour so need to make up the salary with tips. Thankfully a few states require them to be paid minimum wage.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Chesleygirl on July 12, 2017, 05:51:42 PM
I don't tip at all because I don't dine out at restaurants.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on July 13, 2017, 05:43:23 PM
Got caught between appts and hadn't packed a sandwich. Spent $2.64 at McDonald's.

DH:13
Me: 11
For others: 5

Week long extended family vacation next week, so I expect this to go up a lot.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: cantgrowone on July 13, 2017, 09:20:56 PM
Hi. I fought the urge to eat out after seeing this. Might do lunch tomorrow that could lead to a new job though.

Keep it up guys!

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on July 24, 2017, 06:53:02 AM
Just got back from vacation- 7 days-, and we did okay with eating out- lots of cooking and breakfasts in the unit.

Meals out:
Travel day from 10 am- 2 am (weather delays!) bought Subway for each of us on the way to the airport for lunch. Dinner we had snacks in the Admirals lounge, nothing purchased.  Also ate packed snacks

-"Entertainment" we did a pizza crawl of Lake George. Wasn't too expensive (about $15 total)- but I'll count this as lunch for DH and I both.

-We did a dinner at Texas roadhouse, but parents paid, so that doesn't count by my rules.

-DH and I went and ate Sandwiches in town one day for lunch. These were SO good.

-Entire family went to a fancy dinner, so that counts for both DH and I. It cost a fortune ($60 each!!)- since we 'split the bill evenly', as a non-drinker, I got totally screwed. My pasta was overcooked and I'm still annoyed by this one because we had said we weren't going because of the baby, got guilted into going and it was not a fun or tasty evening.

-Went into town and bought a whole pizza for us and our (teenage) cousins. So that ups DH and I by 1 each, and we purchased for 2 other people.

-Travel day: again started the day with Subway for each of us.  Gave in to airport food and each had dinner at a burrito place (no chinese place for our traditional shared meal). DH's was good, mine was crappy- should have just stuck to packed granola bars.

So 7 days of vacation and purchased 7 meals each, plus 2 for others.  Since we ate 21+ times, I think we did okay.


Year to date:
DH: 20
Me: 18
For others: 7
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Rimu05 on July 24, 2017, 12:03:53 PM
I moved out of my aunt's house and finally have a kitchen I can use myself so I am in on this. I can finally cook. I am taking it slow. Last week, I brought lunch three days out of the week and then ate out for the other two.

I need to find a way to meal prep mid week and put a twist on my dishes. With beef stew it's easy, but not so much with beans and soups...

While I go to the farmers market which is very affordable, I buy spices, pound cake and some things I can only find at Whole foods from whole foods. I no longer buy veggies there though. Not when I can leave the farmers market with my arms hurting and only have spent $10.

On this note, somewhat suck at grocery shopping and meal planning. I am still twiddling with recipes so we'll see what happens.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on July 29, 2017, 10:00:02 AM
No excuses here, but the Thai last night was great. My tally is getting sadly high (vacations really hit it)

Year to date:
DH: 21
Me: 19
For others: 7
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on August 12, 2017, 12:18:54 AM
Have been traveling a lot, which throws my cooking habit all out of whack.  Blah.

It's especially rough, because nowadays I often don't like restaurant meals as much as my own home-cooked dishes. I worry about the quality of ingredients (especially when asked to pay $2 extra for "real maple syrup" -- seriously! Even somewhat hip-seeming breakfast places are charging customers extra to avoid high-fructose corn syrup!).  I don't love having to wait for a seat or having a waiter hovering around. I can make great meals myself, exactly they way I want them to be, for much less money and effort!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on August 26, 2017, 05:57:52 PM
Back from another long trip.  I ate out so much and hemorrhaged money. Failure!

Then I came home to a nigh-empty fridge. Thought about ordering take-out, then face-punched myself. Instead I'm going to open a can of tuna, add a few seasonings, and eat it straight up.  I also have some almond butter I can eat.

Tangent:

It's strange, but I'm realizing that I don't yearn for travel as much as I used to.  I have focused more on contentment in my own home environment and inner world, to the point where there is nowhere I would rather be, than where I am. Travel is about disrupting my routines and experiencing something new, but I am always so relieved and happy to come home.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Travis on August 26, 2017, 06:22:50 PM
After a 3 week summer vacation I'm definitely done with restaurants for a while.  Having said that, this month I ate some high-quality pizza at a going-away party for work and went to nearby office building cafeteria for lunch on Thursday. They served a fresh buffalo chicken salad for $5 that was enough food to split into two meals.  It was good and I thought I got a good value, but that may be a once a month treat with coworkers since I usually bring my own.  I lucked out with the pizza too. We had such a large group that the restaurant accidentally made an extra pizza. Since I was the last person there to pay my bill they asked if I wanted to take it home for free. 

As a family we haven't eaten out in over a month, which helps the numbers game since we're hosting a handful of people tonight and bought some Papa Murphy's pizzas for dinner.  We ordered online and as we frowned at the total, we realized we still had a cheap frozen pizza we could give to the kids tonight which knocked about $15 off the order.  We've been disappointed and disgusted the last couple times we went to a major sit-down chain so our list of "approved" places to eat has dwindled quite a bit.  I still enjoy sampling new places when I travel on business since it's not coming out of my pocket.

A "normal" month for us eating out over the last year has been $100-$150. 
-$20 DW Starbucks
-$20 lunch with coworkers
-$30 DW lunch with coworkers
-$20 fast food for DS when we drag him around for long shopping trips

I'm happy when we can keep it to $100. This year DW is telecommuting so the work-related lunches and snacks should be consistently lower.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on August 27, 2017, 12:09:18 PM
Got caught at an appt for 2 hours longer than planned and my blood sugar dipped way low. DH and I split a sandwich at subway.

Year to date:
DH: 21.5
Me: 19.5
For others: 7

I wish I had kept track of money spent too. The count seems insanely high, but many of the meals were super cheap.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Lentils4Lunch on August 27, 2017, 07:46:46 PM
I'd like to be part of this thread, even though 2017 is 2/3 over... So, are you just keeping a running tally of the number of times you've eaten at a restaurant this year? I'm too lazy to read through the whole thread...
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on August 27, 2017, 07:48:19 PM
I'd like to be part of this thread, even though 2017 is 2/3 over... So, are you just keeping a running tally of the number of times you've eaten at a restaurant this year? I'm too lazy to read through the whole thread...

That's what I'm doing, but not everyone.
Not just restaurants though, anytime I buy prepared food out, even if I eat it at home, or if it is grocery store prepared food takeout.
Mine is only when I pay. I'm perfectly happy to eat at a restaurant on company dime, for instance.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on September 03, 2017, 10:44:28 AM
Year to date:
DH: 22.5
Me: 20.5
For others: 7

Got a groupon, so it was a great price, but we went out again.  You know, we go out way less than "normal", and the vacations really upped the counts, but this is really adding up!
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: OurTown on September 05, 2017, 09:39:12 AM
I've been to restaurants a whole lot less recently because I've been doing more intermittent fasting.

We wen't to Gus's Fried Chicken on Sunday.  Yum yum.  That's it for the month so far.  I think we may go out on Saturday.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: marble_faun on September 15, 2017, 04:49:47 PM
Have been on a good restaurant-free streak!

One thing that has helped is keeping around healthy-ish canned goods for times when I'm starved but don't feel like cooking. My typical meal is home-cooked, but a can of vegetarian chili can function as a kind of "harm reduction."

I keep a supply of high-fiber, high-protein snacks around, mainly almonds, roasted chickpeas, and ingredients for fruit smoothies.  These are quick and filling and help take the edge off. They have been crucial to success.

I'm also getting into tofu, which is not something I have normally eaten. But I like it because it doesn't require as much care or thought as meat preparation.

With this, I have lost 15 pounds since last year and have not felt deprived at all!  Nor have I changed my exercise routine. I attribute this to avoiding take-out carbs, like the croissant at the coffee shop and the white rice that comes with Thai curry.

Plus, as I educated myself more about fresh ingredients and whole foods, some switch flipped in my mind, and I now view junk food as distasteful.  (My whole diet used to pretty much be take-out, brunch, and junk food.)
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: TempusFugit on September 17, 2017, 03:03:44 PM
I'll add my view here, even though it isn't completely in harmony with the thread title.  I don't want to stop eating at restaurants, but I do recognize how much $ I am spending for this particular 'hobby'.  So maybe 'moderate' my habit of restaurant dining is a more accurate goal for me. 

I very rarely eat lunch anyplace but at home.  I'm fortunate enough to live near work so I come home almost every day for lunch and make a sandwich, etc.  I realize that I'm being half wasteful here in that I do travel home for that lunch rather than just take lunch with me, but darn it, I really enjoy the break from the office.  I have time to eat lunch and then read a little or play with the cat or just sit outside on my deck on a nice afternoon for a few minutes before re-engaging in the office.  About twice a month I will meet a friend for a cheap ($10) lunch.  So that's not my issue.  My issue is eating dinner out about 3 nights a week. 

Being single, approaching middle age, and living in suburbia, I have found restaurants to be my social activity.  I have a few that I frequent pretty much weekly and I almost always have an enjoyable experience meeting up with other friends that I have met in this context.  So I don't really want to eliminate this from my life. 

That being said, I do recognize 2 negatives that result from this choice of recreation.  One is the fact that I drink more than I should.  I don't ever really get drunk, mind you, because my consumption is spread out over several hours (usually 3+, I make a night of it), but the total intake is probably bad for my health.  On a Friday and Saturday night, I consume about 3-4 drinks. Sometimes 5.  And this is directly correlated with the second negative, which is the amount of money I spend on a weekly basis.  My restaurants of choice are the kind with $12 cocktails and $16 glasses of wine, so I spend an average of $85 for a meal.  Now, I get some fantastic meals for that money, but it's still a lot of money. 

This was a habit that I got into several years ago when I was doing a lot of freelance work in addition to my 9-5.  I would come home from the office and spend a couple hours working on my side gig and then I'd find myself hungry and ready to get out of the house.  The extra dough rolling in from the freelance work made it really easy to rationalize spending lots of money to blow off steam and relax.  Then it became a habit.  I am a creature of routine.  To a fault.

When I stumbled upon MMM and the FIRE culture earlier this year, I had a bit of an awakening.  I didn't realize how close I was to FI. I knew that I had FU money (a few years of cushion should I lose my job), but I didn't know the (ridiculously simple) math behind early retirement.  Now, instead of a far off goal in 10-12 years, I see that I'm only a few years away.  That makes it much more real and actionable.   

I started by actually looking at my spending in this area.  I knew I was spending a lot, of course, but I wasn't really tracking it and putting a number to it.  Since I always use a CC, I was able to review my annual expenditures at my regular dining establishments.  That was...unpleasant.  Being somewhat a glutton for punishment, I even did the math on the opportunity cost for that money.  So I decided to make some changes.

The first thing I've done is to eliminate one night (mid week) of dining out.  That was something that I had most recently added and was the least enjoyable to me, bank-for-buck speaking.   I was not generally meeting up with friends for that meal, so it wasn't as social as other nights.  So, low hanging fruit, so to speak. 

Next, I've begun to pay more attention to how much I'm spending at a meal.  I'm buying smaller / less expensive portions and maybe reducing the drink count by 1.  Baby steps.    I'm also eliminating one or two of the weekend night outings each month.  These rather small and (we'll see) painless changes should reduce my monthly spend by something like $350 - $400.

I am fully aware that even after these changes I'm spending what many (in this community) would consider a ridiculous amount of money at restaurants.  But in my view, spending is ok so long as it isn't creating (or prolonging) debt and, importantly, it needs to be mindful.  So long as I know what I'm spending and I make the conscious decision that it is a trade-off I'm willing to make, then so be it. 




Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: iowajes on November 13, 2017, 04:50:43 AM
Husband got a free veteran's day meal at Texas Roadhouse. I felt sick and only had a salad, so the outing was inexpensive, but still counts as a paid meal out for me.

Year to date:
DH: 22.5
Me: 21.5
For others: 7

On the win side, I had really wanted to go out to honor my (deceased) son's birthday, but we ate a hearty breakfast and waited to eat until we were home and DH made a nice pot roast.

Next week we are at family's for Thanksgiving, and I suspect there will be a lot of meals out, as we will be on other people's plans, not ours. I can only hope to keep the costs down
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: Askel on November 13, 2017, 01:52:45 PM
Being single, approaching middle age, and living in suburbia, I have found restaurants to be my social activity.  I have a few that I frequent pretty much weekly and I almost always have an enjoyable experience meeting up with other friends that I have met in this context.  So I don't really want to eliminate this from my life. 

I stopped dining out frequently when I broke the ties between my social life and restaurants. 

Sure, I had many great friends and grand times blowing $50 or more per night hanging out with them, but I realized it was the hanging out with friends part that was fun, not the restaurant part.

So, I kind of moved away from the hanging out in restaurants part and started socializing with people in other ways.  Some of it still revolves around food and drink, albeit prepared in our homes. Some of it still involves going "out", albeit to hang out like a bunch of hoodlum kids riding bikes, swilling beer, and eating gas station pizza on some street corner or similar. It's amazing the good times I can have in middle age that a younger me would have gotten in trouble for. :D
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: akzidenz on November 22, 2017, 11:36:54 AM
I'll add my view here, even though it isn't completely in harmony with the thread title.  I don't want to stop eating at restaurants, but I do recognize how much $ I am spending for this particular 'hobby'.  So maybe 'moderate' my habit of restaurant dining is a more accurate goal for me…

I am fully aware that even after these changes I'm spending what many (in this community) would consider a ridiculous amount of money at restaurants.  But in my view, spending is ok so long as it isn't creating (or prolonging) debt and, importantly, it needs to be mindful.  So long as I know what I'm spending and I make the conscious decision that it is a trade-off I'm willing to make, then so be it.

I have a similar mindset around restaurant spending (although I'm in a different life position: early twenties, living in a city, a lot of my social interactions involve going out to bars, restaurants, &c with friends). I've been trying to cut down on the low-quality restaurant spending—when I'm lazy, when it feels like the default option vs something I'm really excited to do as a rare treat.



One of my big anxieties—when it comes to reducing restaurant spending—was around feeling "weird" if I didn't eat out and instead invited friends over to cook. But in the past month I've gotten really comfortable with inviting friends to cook with me! With one of my close friends—we used to catch up every week or every other week at a restaurant. Now we'll try a new recipe together, and even a recipe that uses a lot of new/fancy ingredients is cheaper than our previous restaurant meals.

I've also started baking bread at home, and invited another close friend to come by for brunches—I'll make the bread, she can bring avocados, and we can have avocado toast and mimosas at my place.

My boyfriend and I used to eat out for all our dates. We're now at 50% eating out, 50% cooking together, so that's been good too.
Title: Re: Stop Eating at $&%@#$! Restaurants, THE RETURN: 2017
Post by: grenzbegriff on December 05, 2017, 11:29:04 AM
Checking in.

I've spent under $50 at restaurants in the last 24 months, while living in wealthy places in the US.

I do go to restaurants now and then with friends, I just don't order anything.  Usually I have a little food with me, or I simply don't eat.  These are generally friends who I respect and who respect me, so I'm not worried about the social awkwardness of it.  In fact, I enjoy the awkward situations since it's an opportunity to be more honest -- the comfortable veneer of social acceptability is already broken.