Goal: Stop Eating Out

Look, I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog kvetching about how much I spend on food. Well, this year, I’m going to do something about it. My two step plan is as follows:

  1. Stop going to restaurants that aren’t worth the price. You can see in the below chart I have mapped every local area restaurant I’ve gone to in the past six months in terms of price/quality and, upon reflection, I’ve found some of my most frequent haunts (“Chinese delivery”) don’t actually make the cut. This causes me to continue craving a “nice” meal later in the week, perpetuating the eating out cycle.
  2. Limit the number of restaurant trips I make in each price bracket. I typically have too many $20-30 meals which gets me in trouble. Knowing how many of those I can have in a month will hopefully help me ration it out a little better.

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Based on these numbers, I’ll be able to go out to eat between 2-3x each week. That’s less than I’m used to, but not terrible. If you sum everything up, there’s a good chance I’ll still be spending ~$300/month on eating out if I go somewhere fancy every month or have a board game night where we order in (there’s always at least one). While certainly not frugal especially for a FIRE blogger, is a number I can definitely live with.

Is eating out consistently “worth it” to you? 

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9 thoughts on “Goal: Stop Eating Out

  1. I’ve been trying to keep my eating out down to a minimum, which is a lot easier without my ex-husband around. He was always eating out, which tempted me to do so as well. That said, I make an allowance to potentially eat out when I go to trivia once a week. And I had dinner with a friend last night that wasn’t cheap ($25 after tax) though it was excellent food. So clearly I do need to monitor the budget a little more carefully to make sure I don’t go overboard. Moderation in all things (including moderation), right?

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  2. Right now I’ve been eating out with job candidates for almost 2 straight weeks in a row, and I’m pretty tired of it. (Cue tiny violins.)

    Of course, that encourages my family to also eat out while I’m gone, so we’re not really saving money on my business dinners, even if they’re eating in lower budget places.

    Boo on the Caribb Tapas place– that’s the worst.

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    1. When I was traveling a lot for work, I got sick of eating out all the time really quick. After so many heavy hotel restaurant meals, all I wanted after long trips was to eat nothing but romaine lettuce for days. It also meant I was never grocery shopping so I’d eat out when back home too. Hard to break the cycle when circumstances push you to eat out.

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  3. I cannot resist street tacos or pho, I’ll say that right up front, they are reliably delicious every time (also Thai. also Japanese. also Indian. crap!) but we try to eat out no more than an average of once a week. Some weeks we go twice, some weeks we don’t at all, it evens out, I think. We save it mostly for when we have guests if I’m not up to cooking. Not just because PiC won’t cook, he would, but I am the full meal specialist and he is the doing-everything-else specialist.

    PiC will often eat out, with his friends, on his almost weekly getaway but I pass on him bringing some home for us at least half the time or else I’d be having it every week as well. I can handle one of us eating out more often than all of us, it’s obviously cheaper when it’s just him.

    We do occasionally supplement the regular home cooking with work leftovers. PiC’s work caters lunches sometimes and that feels like a cheat of getting take out that we don’t pay for technically but it’s not that frequent. I do appreciate the bursts of food, though.

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    1. One of the things I hate about New England is the utter lack of good Tex Mex. WHERE ARE MY STREET TACOS. But I digress.

      I love bumming off work catering leftovers. I used to bring whole pizzas back home for my husband at my old job. ‘Twas great.

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  4. I like your way of thinking about how to approach this goal, particularly with point 1, that some restaurants are just not worth the price! Although it’s pretty much hopeless for me to cut down on restaurant spending at this stage in my life (high income, long hours at the office), a big part of that is that all the restaurants on our regular rotation are “worth it” to me, I get an enjoyment and value/utility from them that is commensurate to what they cost me. And when we try new places I’m rarely ever disappointed.

    I had found, while I was clerking in a neighborhood that didn’t have walking-distance access to any good (and good value) restaurants for takeout lunch food, that it made it a lot easier for me to shift to making my own lunches. The paycut was a significant factor, but, er, knowing myself it wasn’t actually the main factor. And now that I’m working in Manhattan again and personally find Sweetgreen very worth it, I pretty much can’t stop myself from eating Sweetgreen almost every weekday for lunch.

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    1. I loved getting Sweetgreen when I was working downtown. There are still good places to grab lunch near my current work, but I felt to catered to there.

      I definitely agree it can be hard to cut down on eating out with high-stress. long-hour jobs. I’m hoping by having a system of restaurant ranking at least I can eat “smarter, not harder.” Or something. (Idioms are hard.)

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