Why the Average American Spends Way too Much Eating Out (What to Do Instead)

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  • American spending on restaurants and takeout increased by 23.1% in 2021, with the average household spending $2,375 annually.
  • People opt to eat out because it means less mess, more convenience, and better options.
  • Despite the increasing prices of groceries, eating at home still costs less but requires more planning.

Most Americans eat out because they think they have more food choices, less menu and grocery shopping, planning, and less cleaning up. Some people also have limited cooking skills and ideas on what to eat.

Across all household incomes, Americans have increased their eating-out spending by 23.1%, meaning they spend an average of $2,375 annually.

To avoid eating out, you need to have a plan, and cooking at home will save you money. Of course, whether you decide to eat out or cook at home depends on your resources, but here are some ways to enjoy good food all the time:

Tips on how to Spend Less on Eating Out

As interest rates and inflation continue to rocket, frugality is on everybody’s mind. If you are looking for ways to spend less, carefully sourcing ingredients to prepare a home-cooked meal can help you save money. However, you can also spend less when eating out.

1.      Make the Decision

No need to promise you’ll never eat out, but commit to being prepared to create meals at home more regularly. Of course, this will mean getting the whole family on board and agreeing on the occasions for eating out and adhering to the plan.

Moreover, if you are unsure how this may go, try the plan for a month to allow the process of planning and preparing meals to become an ingrained habit.

2.      Devise a Do-Able Meal Plan and Shopping List

Create a weekly meal plan. Make sure the meal plan includes tasty recipes that you love to eat and are easy to prepare; you don’t need to outdo yourself by planning elaborate meals. Leave the Osso Bucco or Beef Wellington for special occasions.

If you love a particular dish from a specific restaurant, you could even plan to prepare it at home, but always ensure that you have failsafe recipes to try. Your meal plan could include meals that you rotate weekly.

Create your shopping list to match your meal plan, helping to avoid buying excessive groceries that may go to waste. A well-planned pantry should always have some basic ingredients to create emergency meals. These include pasta, canned soup, ingredients for pancakes and French toast, etc.

3.      Spice Things Up with Treats

Weekends are an excellent time to get a bit more creative and try something a bit more challenging. You can also include treats like pancakes, pizzas, or barbecues to spice things up on certain days. Additionally, keep some frozen pizzas for emergency days with limited cooking time.

4.      Create With Leftovers

Leftovers present some fantastic meal opportunities and save you time. Either eat your leftover portions or repurpose them into delicious treats. For example, turn treats roast into tasty wraps, or you can boil some pasta to enjoy with some leftover sauce. The possibilities are endless!

5.      Prepare Ahead and Freeze

Some foods freeze very well, so cook double quantities and freeze half for meals on busy days. Remember to label the meals and add frozen meals to your monthly meal plan to avoid wastage.

6.      Order Takeouts Locally for Free Delivery

Sometimes, you need to order takeouts. Delivery apps will charge an additional fee to bring the food, but you can save money by getting your food from local restaurants offering free delivery. However, if you prefer the convenience of delivery apps, shop around to find the ones that charge less.

7.      Earn Rewards from Cash-Back Cards

Whether you shop for groceries or order takeouts, using cards with cash-back rewards can reduce your costs. There are several types of cash-back cards with different rewards, so choose one that meets your needs best.

8.      Chase the Deals

Restaurants offer specials on their quieter nights, so if you must order takeouts once in a while, make sure to get takeouts on nights when you get better deals. Additionally, most restaurants offer lunch specials, so ordering at lunch instead of dinner is a great saving tip.

Final Take

Changing your eating out habits can help you save a lot of money. But, as you can see from this article, there is no need to cut eating out altogether. Just follow the steps for careful planning to help you reduce your overall spending, leaving money on your budget for saving towards other things.

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