Ideas for Not Eating Out

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by NALA 24, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. NALA 24

    NALA 24 Mouseketeer

    Aug 21, 2000
    My biggest budget buster is eating out. My family does it way too much!!!
    With two vacations in the near future and several special events coming up, I'd like to avoid eating out to save calories and money. Does anyone have any ideas?
  2. mjbaby

    mjbaby DIS Veteran

    Jun 27, 2004
    I was just going to come post to see who wanted to join me in a No Eating Out Challenge - great minds and all that, eh?

    We're trying to not eat out at all until July 2, when we head out for our first summer trip. Anyone want to join the challenge with us?

    My tips are:

    - Keep an eye on the grocery bill, certainly, but don't get hung up if you spend more at the market than normal. Usually we don't count money spent eating out toward the food budget, so not eating out results in an artificial increase in the supermarket expenditures. Any increase you see is more than likely much, much less than you'd spend if you went out to eat.

    - Stock up on basics like rice, couscous, broths, plains chicken breasts and chops, pastas, other words, things that cook quickly and can be flavored many different ways. So when the inevitable night comes when you just don't feel like dealing with dinner you can cook up some chops, rice and, say, steamed broccoli and it's faster than going out and cheaper (not to mention healthier!).

    - Make a point of making time to attend any potlucks or parties that might be on your calendar. Sometimes it might seem a hassle to go to the Sunday School picnic or the office potluck, but these things can be almost like 'eating out" and you get that socializing time you might miss if you're not going out.

    - For every night you are really, really tempted to go out and don't, treat yourself to a small (less expensive) indulgence. One night recently we came thisclose to going to a fairly spendy steakhouse near us. We resisted, though, at the last minute and the next day I treated myself to a $8 manicure - a nicer economic option than the $70 dinner and one that helped me relax, to boot!
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  4. GIOny

    GIOny DIS Veteran

    Feb 1, 2004
    I assume you mean you don't want to eat out too much while on vacation, and I think unless you have a room/unit with a kitchen it would be very diffucult. If you have a fridge in the room you could do something like a big cooked spiral ham (cook it at home) and keep it in the fridge and people could make sandwiches out of it. Pasta salads (no mayo) can go a long way but again unless you have big coolers that you are traveling with it would all be next to impossible. Good Luck :stir:
  5. momm2four

    momm2four <font color=CC0066>We all have those little "skele

    Jan 17, 2002
    ETA:I assumed you meant ideas for now to help you save for your vacation. Sorry if I misunderstood.

    One cheap, easy idea is to have breakfast for dinner.

    This morning I made an easy "Breakfast Casserole in a Pan". I browned some sausage, drained it and set it aside.

    I scrambled some eggs, added reduced-fat sliced cheese, a little milk and the sausage and mixed it together (Salt/Pepper to taste). I threw some Pillsbury Country style biscuits and some hash brown patties in the oven and within 20 minutes, we had a great meal.

    Also, a baked potato bar is one of my kids' favorites. You could even put the potatoes in a crock pot mid-morning to avoid having to use your oven.

    Another idea is to make fajitas. I'm going to boil some chicken, then put it in a crockpot with some fajita mix from one of those little packets you find in the grocery store (I think you add water, too) Lay out some whole wheat tortillas, sour cream, salsa, cheese and lettuce, and there's a dinner waiting to happen. You can keep with the theme, and lay out a bowl of chips with some cheese/salsa dip.

    Hope this helps someone. I look forward to reading some of the ideas.

    Lori P. :)
  6. HappyCamperToo

    HappyCamperToo Fish gotta fly

    Mar 12, 2006
    Ok, brain dump here....

    Which meals do you typically eat out - dinner, lunch, breakfast?
    Try making a calendar for one week, with specific menus and activities planned for each meal (or just dinners if that's the problem). Have a person assigned to be in charge of the meal. (so we can't eat out and miss Suzie's meal....) If the person is too young to cook, have them still be in charge of things, just with a helper cook. They can plan a game, Disney-related meal activity, or a topic of conversation, whatever. Hopefully this will give you something to do that you won't want to blow off for a meal out. Basically make the meal something to look forward to, that you won't want to skip. Alternatively, or in addition, give your family some type of "points" each time you eat in. Earn certain number of points to get some type of treat at wdw, which you promise that you absolutely won't do if you don't earn the points. eat out and you LOSE points. See if any of these ideas work for one week, and if so, do it for a second week. Smaller steps are easier to accomplish. Good luck!
  7. daisax

    daisax DIS Veteran

    May 26, 2003
    Cooking is a fun family activity -- if you can get the little kids to choose a menu, you can grocery shop, then come home and prepare it together. Put on party clothes or silly clothes and set the table with your best tableware and call it the ____ Family Restaurant.

    If the kids are old enough and have been to Disney before, you could try to duplicate some theming (old sci fi movie playing, or let an older kid be the wisecracking waiter, etc.)

    If the kids are really little, just name things after Disney characters and they may try them (Tigger tots for carrots, etc.)

    If kids have a hand in preparing the meal they're more likely to try a new food -- especially if it's new to ALL of you.
  8. jenr812

    jenr812 <font color=deeppink>I'm wondering how outta hand

    Feb 9, 2004
    Just subbing as I head out - this is our biggest budget buster too!
  9. gigi1313

    gigi1313 DIS Veteran

    Aug 28, 2001
    we do lots of fun stuff to make us want to stay home....

    fun "non-dinners" like having a whole meal of appetizers for dinner (nachos and cheese, pigs in blankets [made by cutting up big hot dogs, the little ones are too expensive], dips w/veggies, etc) followed by a fun dessert (make your own sundae! or fruit and caramel dip) and will either eat it in the living room or out in the yard... so it's not the same ol' same ol' but it's still inexpensive...

    another option would be to pack a picnic and go to a beach/park/playground or even your own (or better yet, a friend's) backyard...

    organizing potlucks and movie or game or card nights is fun and cheap... disney scene-it is our fave!

    we had a hot dog buffet recently w/tons of different toppings (mustard, ketchup, relishes, pickles, onions, chili, cheese, etc) which is also cheap but fun... with contests for building the wackiest combo (and it also encouraged the kids to try stuff they would not have tried before)

    taco night is also popular for our family 'cause again, it's fun to pick from all the different dishes and build your own...

    hope that helps :)
  10. mousiemom

    mousiemom 43rd wdw trip

    Apr 7, 2005
    I'm in the same boat your in. We have to save to buy our annual passes $1200 by Dec. My dh does all of our bills and he said today we have $77 to spend until next Fri. It kills me, but I know we have to buy these tickets. We're doing a lot of chicken dinners and salads. It's amazing what you give up for Disney!!!
    Good Luck!
  11. mlwear

    mlwear DIS Veteran

    May 5, 2005
    How timely! I decided we need to have a no eating out weekend. We need to do this more often (much more often). We are pretty good during the week (except DH who likes to eat at the cafeteria at work $6/day-- :rolleyes: )
    This is what happens to us --is this the problem for others? I don't plan well. We are doing things and next thing you know, it's time for dinner. Well, I don't know what we are going to have. I don't have anything thawed, I don't have plans, I'm tired, etc. It is just easier to go to Chili's or wherever. Then I get mad at myself because I think of how many groceries I could have bought for what we just spent on one meal. But, then here comes Sunday and I find us grabbing something for lunch. :sad2:
    I am announcing tonight (over pre-determined spaghetti dinner) that we are not eating out this weekend. We have a grocery store about a mile from here, if we can't decide on something we have at the house, then I will go to the grocery as a seperate trip and get the items for the meal. I know this isn't the most cost effective, but better than going out.

    When we have been good in the past, I have found that having a nice weekend meal that often requires some help from everyone is very satisfying. For example, grilled chicken Ceasar salad. Add some french bread and it is real treat for our family. 4 large salads and bread under $10. If we get that out it's at least $30. plus drinks, tip. I feel indulgent to buy large shrimp or steak at the grocery, but it ends up being a nice meal and so much cheaper than going out--plus we don't feel "deprived" of our weekend goodies.

    I did a baked potato bar a few weeks ago and I was surprised by how much my kids loved it. They esp. liked adding salsa.

    Anyway, my suggestion (I hope I can follow it, too) is don't plan meals that are too cheap or something the family will dread. Make eating in a big deal.

    Wishing us both luck and hoping we save some $ in the process. :goodvibes
  12. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 AKV DVC Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    That's so funny! My boyfriend and I were just talking about this last night. Going out to eat is such a huge expense for us. We spend approx. $150-$200 the whole weekend eating out. It's ridiculous. So we made an agreement last night that we wouldn't go out to eat for the next five months (even fast food places) and save that money for Disney. We're going to TN in September so we will get to go out to eat then but we saved for that too. It's going to be very hard as we both LOVE going out to eat and we both live with our parents so it's the only time we get to be by ourselves. But I think if we start planning picnics where we pack some sandwiches and pasta salad that we'll have just as good of a time. But I need more suggestions too...

    Thanks everyone for any tips! :thumbsup2

    And thanks for posting this thread! :sunny:

    Another thing I'm looking forward to is that if we stop going out to eat it will be so much more special when we do go on vacation and get to eat out for all of our meals.
  13. My2Cinderellas

    My2Cinderellas DIS Veteran

    Jun 2, 2005
    the trick for me is to have it planned ahead of time, including the sides. I also like crockpot stuff as it's very easy. If I'm standing at the fridge at supper time thinking "what should we have?" then it's usually a restaurant night.

    French Dips
    3-4 lb rolled rump roast
    1 pkg au jus mix
    1 pkg Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
    2 cans beef broth
    1-2 cans water.

    put roast in crock pot, sprinkle iwth dry mixes, pour in beef broth and water, make sure liquid is at least 1/2 way up the side of the roast. turn on low and cook all day.

    to serve, remove roast, slice and serve meat on crusty buns with au jus in small bowls for dipping.

    I like to serve it with pasta/veggie salad (chopped veggies like carrots broccoli tomatoes - add your favorites too) mixed with light ranch dressing and cooked chunky pasta. make ahead so it's nice and chilled by meal time.

    we like to make pizza at home, if you have a bread machine it's easy to make the dough up. you can even set the machine for a delayed start in the morning, so the dough is ready when you are home from work.
  14. pperfectmom

    pperfectmom <font color=teal>Has the sense of direction of a m

    May 11, 2006
    We very rarely eat out because #1 we are always broke and #2 it is a drive to get anywhere nice. We do have several things we do to make eating at home more pleasant. We never use paper plates, napkins or plastic utensils. That's why I have a dishwasher. Real plates make everything taste better. Also, we never eat in front of the TV(exceptions made for ice cream :banana: ). Usually, we listen to some nice jazz and if it's late in the evening we light some candles. Atmosphere is important. We always have wine with dinner, usually the big bottle of Placido or Rene Junot for 8-12 bucks. It's not bad for the price and no, we don't drink the whole bottle at one time. For me, trying to decide WHAT to cook every night is the hard part. I like to keep chicken breasts, fish, sliced tenderloin and burger on hand for easy suppers. With different marinades, etc. you have a whole freezer full of entrees. I also like to keep edamame, frozen peas, broccoli and corn in the freezer and I'll make bread about every two weeks and keep it frozen, too. There you have it-supper!
  15. Carolinagirl1063

    Carolinagirl1063 Mouseketeer

    May 31, 2005
  16. disneymom3

    disneymom3 <font color=green> I think I could adjust!! <br><f

    Mar 11, 2002
    I am up for a no eating out challenge but I have to start after Father's Day. We are taking DH out for lunch. NOT for dinner because it is more expensive.

    My biggest roadblock is planning and going to the store. If I plan it out, write it down and make sure I have all the ingredients I do awesome but if I don't, I crash and burn. It just gets soooo boring having to come up with three meals a day. My other downfall is that DH hasn't been home for dinner for WEEKS and I get bored making stuff for just me and the kids, especially since the youngest thinks anything with nutritional value is yucky.
  17. goofy4mykids

    goofy4mykids Mouseketeer

    Oct 13, 2005
    Count me in :thumbsup2 I have been wanting to do this for a long time but never do it :guilty: Maybe now I can, with a little help from my friends :teeth: :grouphug:
  18. disykat

    disykat DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2000
    As others have mentioned, it's all about the planning. I find if I make a list of meals I'm planning before I hit the grocery store it makes a huge difference. Then I tack the list of meals to the fridge and cross them off when we've had them. I know at a glance what the choices are. It also makes it easier to get something out of the freezer for the next day when all I have to do is glance at the fridge.

    Each time I go to the store, I plan several quick and easy meals that don't require any thawing or much cooking. Even though those might be more expensive or less healthy, it's better than eating out.
  19. preb

    preb DIS Veteran

    Mar 8, 2001
    One thing we have done recently is a weekly sandwich night. With all of the evening sporting events going on this time of year, it's sometimes hard to squeeze in a full sit down meal. Then, it's tempting to swing into a drive thru.

    I make up a platter of sandwiches ahead of time and pop them in the fridge. Everyone can grab one in between their activities.

    One other policy I have is to make a big family meal on Sunday that leaves enough left overs for a meal later in the week. Like, a whole ham, turkey, or a big pot of stew or soup. Cook twice!

    Planning is the key. I decide our meals for the week before I grocery shop based on what I already have on hand and what is on sale that week.

  20. juligrl

    juligrl DIS Veteran

    May 25, 2006
    The biggest thing that helps me is having all my dinners planned out for the week -- I mean everything! Yes I go to the grocery store once a week, but in addition to saving money by not eating out all the time, I take my weekly coupon savings and put some of the funds toward our next vacation. Great incentive.
  21. HenDuck

    HenDuck DIS Veteran

    May 11, 2004
    since I'm not so good at consistently planning a weekly menu, I always have a ready stock of little to no cook items, like:

    -ham steaks from Costco
    -potato buds or the like (flavored ones are yummy!)
    -lipton rice or pasta mixes (don't know what their called)
    -large bag of frozen buffalo wings or similar
    -costco sized bag of frozen veggies
    -lots of ground beef frozen
    -chili, taco, meatloaf mixes to go with ground beef
    -canned spaghetti sauce and lots of different kinds of dried pasta
    -lots of shredded cheese (can be frozen)
    -easy to make corn bread (Sam's Club has one where you just add water)

    My girlfriend browns her ground beef flavored with taco mix (but you could use whatever seasoning you like). Then when it's time to make anything with ground beef, you are two steps ahead.

    A tip I have learned from having milk drinkers, I buy two gallons at a time. The second gallon is fresh until you open it. That way, I don't have to run to the store just for milk (which turns into a shopping fest).

    Also, I buy two loaves of bread from Costco or Sam's. I pull one out to use immediately and freeze the other immediately. Mid-way through the week, we pull out the second loaf and it defrosts like it was fresh.

    As for not eating out, just keep on driving past that Chili's restauraunt!

    Good luck!


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