For the past three days, we’ve had Mr. ThreeYear’s cousin and her family staying with us. We’ve been living the best of August. Mr. ThreeYear took a couple of days off work, and we’ve been showing our family our town’s local lake, a craft fair, a dairy farm, and more. The five cousins have been playing, building forts, swimming, and eating ice cream (okay, the adults have enjoyed that one, too).
The weather has been warm in the day and cool in the mornings and evenings. In short, they’ve gotten to see the best of our area while they’re here. One of the nice things about their trip is that we’ve eaten all our meals, save one, at home. Since they’re Chilean, we’ve eaten the most delicious Chilean meals–empanadas, ceviche, and we had a killer asado. Asados are barbecues (not the Southern kind) where you cook chicken, sausages, and steak on the grill, then you make simple salads to accompany all the meat. Did I take pictures of any of this? Of course not. I was too busy eating! But it’s been delicious. All the delicious home-cooked food inspired this month’s habit.
Last month, we had a wonderful trip to South Carolina, but also spent more money than we needed to on eating out. This month (and since it’s currently the 13th, I’m starting now and going until approximately mid-September), the goal is: no eating out.
Normally, the ThreeYears spend between $100 and $300 on eating out each month. I know that number might be very high for many of you, but it’s been our normal eating out budget for years. We average $200 a month for the year.
Many bloggers, like Mr. Tako, for example, are incredibly disciplined in this area and almost never eat out. While I agree with him in theory, we haven’t agreed with him in practice, especially this year.
That’s why this month, I’m going to adopt the habit of not eating out at all. Why do I say “I”? I think most eating out starts with me. Since I cook the majority of the food, if I have a clear plan for what we’re going to eat each night, and an emergency stash of frozen pizzas or other quick meals, like Mrs. Frugalwoods, then we won’t need to eat out. Also, when we head out to the beach (and by beach I mean lake), we’ll pack food with us.
This means food preparation. Cutting up carrots and celery for snacks, organizing the pantry so snacks are easy to access, and writing a meal plan for the week. In an ideal month, I write a meal plan first, and then write my grocery list based on that, but I have to admit I haven’t written a meal plan in several months.
Normally, we eat out on weekends, when Mr. ThreeYear asks, “what are we doing for lunch?” and I say, “we could go to…” We also eat out if we’re doing a family activity far away from the house and haven’t packed food with us. If we have food, even snacks, packed, we can usually make it home to eat our meals here. Since we live in a very rural part of New Hampshire, we’re far away from most everything, including restaurants. So we’re not usually temped to eat out during weeknights. But if we’re in a different town and happen by a delicious Indian or sushi restaurant, then we let our guards down and eat out.
Those are our cues for the habit we’d like to replace, so knowing that, I’ll pack a picnic with us, in our handy insulated bag, if we do go anywhere far away.
We’ve allowed ourselves to become irresponsibly spendy for the last two months in the areas of eating out, so I’m cracking the financial whip. I am going to buy delicious ingredients and take meal requests so that my family will hopefully be delighted to eat at home.
We’ll let you know how it goes. My hope is that this month resets us for the upcoming school year, so that we can meet the rest of our financial goals with the money we had been spending on eating out.
If you have any tips, please let me know! This definitely isn’t my area of strength!