Every Monday in 2015, I’ll be sharing a different idea to help you save money! Add all of these tips to your frugal repertoire and you’ll be able to save a lot of money this year! I hope you’ll gather a few new ideas or at least some inspiration from this series.  

Eat Out Less To Save Big

I’m going to be honest with you and say it’s been a busy/disorganized season of our lives so we’ve been eating out a lot more than we should be 🙁 This is something I want to remedy because truthfully, it’s only because I’ve been “lazy” and frustrated with trying to please everyone’s taste buds. Ugh! Several years ago we decided eating out once a week for a cheap dinner was okay. But lately I’ve been finding we’re eating out once a week plus stopping midday for some lunch or even a treat at least once a week. That really adds up!

I’ve come up with several ways that I think will get our family back on track and eating at home more. I think these tips will help you eat out less too!

Menu plan

Since I’m being honest in this post, I’ve been completely slacking in the menu planning department. And this is huge for me because I’m such an advocate for planning a weekly menu! I know the benefits it has for my family, yet I’ve still been slacking.

I don’t find it difficult to plan a menu, I’ve been doing it for quite a few years, yet it has become a chore to me trying to please everyone. (And there’s only three of us right now!) A wise woman I know, who has many children, once gave me some wonderful advice. I was wondering how she managed to serve meals that her entire family would eat. She told me that she mainly tries to think of what her husband would enjoy. Make him happy and the kids will have to learn to like what’s put on the table. I loved that because I don’t want my children to be picky eaters and it takes the pressure off trying to please every single person! Which would ultimately end up with several different meals being made at each meal time. No thanks.

If you have troubles planning a menu, there are plenty of meal planning services out there like: eMeals, The Fresh 20, Once a Month Mom.

Use the slow cooker

I love my slow cooker. Most recipes I use don’t involve any precooking. Just plunk all the ingredients in the cooker, turn it on, and walk away while dinner is being made! Using a slow cooker in the hot summer months is especially great because it doesn’t heat the house up!

You’ll find many amazing slow cooker meals on Pinterest, in books from the library and even Googling slow cooker meals.

Freezer cooking

Another time saver is using your freezer to stash a whole bunch of freezer meals that you can pull out in the morning to thaw and have on the table just in time for dinner madness.  I’m a big fan of setting aside some time to prepare as many freezer meals as I can, especially when I know a busy season is coming up. (a new baby, guests in town…etc.)

You will find an endless amount of freezer cooking ideas online, but I also have some articles you may enjoy:

Eat the Leftovers

We often have dinner leftovers that get pushed to the back of the fridge.  But by making a conscious effort to eat the leftovers, we can really start to eat out less for lunch or dinner. Besides, leftovers are so easy!  Just heat and serve!

Keep it simple

Who cares if you eat tacos every Tuesday or have pizza night every Friday? If your family enjoys it and it’s healthier than eating out, just roll with it!  Keeping it simple, especially in busy seasons can be just the ticket to keep you from eating out more than you need to be.

Make treats at home

Maybe it’s just our family, but I find we’re going out for ice cream once a week, or Ice Capps. Especially on nights when my husband plays soccer.  Sienna and I like to bring a treat if we’re going to be watching his game. One way we could save, is by making treats at home before we leave.  It’s easy to whip up a delicious blended drink or even bring a bowl of ice cream with the ice cream I bought from the grocery store. I just have to be more diligent in trying!

Give yourself grace

One of the most important things, though, is that you need to give yourself grace. If you have the wiggle room in your budget to eat out and it’s something that your family enjoys, I encourage you to budget it in.

Plus, when it’s in the budget, there’s no guilt!. Maybe that means you can budget to eat out once a week, once a month, or every six months. Figure out what works for you and then do it and don’t feel guilty!

How do you eat out less?  How often do you eat out?  Is this also something you want to change?

See the other articles in this series, here.