Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Restaurant Diet


The wedding is in three months, and even though it will be a high-class/low-budget affair, it is still demanding an uncomfortable amount of our small paychecks. We were looking at our finances, trying to see where we can save money and cut costs, but we kept coming up empty. The fact is, we already live life pretty cheap. We don't buy new clothes. We don't travel far from home. We get our books and furniture used. And yet, we knew there was something we were ovelooking. Something we could do without. A sacrifice we could make, at least until after the wedding. 

Restaurants. Of course. 

We don't eat out that much - maybe two or three times a week (and that counts soy lattes from Starbucks and a dash through the Whole Foods hot bar). When we do go out, we usually end up spending around 30-40 dollars. That's half our weekly grocery bill for one meal. When you think about it in those terms, it's a no-brainer.

Goodbye, Whole Foods hot bar.

So - no restaurant meals until our rehearsal dinner on November 9. We made this vow one week ago, the day after my birthday, and so far we're doing just fine. I'm bringing coffee to work instead of going next door to Starbucks, and splurging on things like jars of curry sauce (which is certainly cheaper than going out for Indian, and less time-consuming than making my own sauces from scratch). Once school starts next week, I'm sure the allure of going out will be stronger, but I'm planning to combat that temptation by making excellent use of my crock-pot, doubling recipes and freezing the extras, and making sure we always have veggie burgers on hand.

Honestly, I don't think it will be too difficult. It's only three months, and having a deadline and a compelling reason for the challenge helps a bunch. Every time we eat at home, we're helping our wedding be a bigger, better celebration. That's 100% worth what is, in reality, a small sacrifice. 

13 comments:

  1. I always really enjoy your posts about budgets and money. You're right: three months isn't forever. You can do it! I do think that with eating at home, being prepared is more than half the battle. If you know you've got good stuff at home, then eating out is less tempting.

    Good luck and happy saving! :-)

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  2. Would you be willing to write a post on how in the world your grocery budget is only $60-80 per week??

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    1. Ha! Our weekly budget is closer to 80-100, actually. I wrote a post sort of about that here: http://christinehennessey.blogspot.com/2012/05/meals-planning-and-grocery-haul.html

      That said, our grocery budget is something I'm continuously working on!

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  3. I have a few friends that constantly complain about money, yet they eat lunch out almost every single day.
    Eating out is SO expensive, especially if you order alcohol. We try to go out 1 night a week and usually pick BYOB places.

    Anyways, good luck! I don't think 3 months will be that tough, and you will save a ton of money.

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    1. I love BYOB places! Even with a corkage fee, it's still a money saver!

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  4. You can do it! My #NoSpend month is really more like a financial diet--I mean, I'm still buying groceries and there are a few odds & ends that needed to be bought, so it's not perfect, but I'm trying. Need to hold it up till January 1, actually, which is the month after my car is paid off. Hard stuff, right? I'm cheering for you up here, hooray for curry sauces!

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  5. I recently had this realization myself, but it was because my sister told me she couldn't save any money. After spending a few days with her, I saw why. Eating out daily. I took her back to her houuse & cooked something healthy and yummy. Quinoa. It's awesome.
    If you eat out & it's not complete garbage food, it's really expensive (as far as food goes.)
    I eat out on special occasions, but in all honesty, I prefer to cook :)

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  6. I've been proud of myself lately. For a while we were ordering a lot of take-out and delivery and I finally put a stop to it. It's hard sometimes but making sandwiches and easy meals at home is a lot cheaper. That meal in the photo looks delicious, though. I might have a harder time if something as good-looking that was available in Nac...

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  7. I recently had to put myself on a similar diet :) I try and focus on cooking lots of really good food so I feel like I'm still eating awesome dishes (even if I'm the one putting in the work).

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  8. I remember the Hot Food bar at Whole Foods being incredibly expensive, especially for a hot bar, granted the food was good but it's not priced for students.

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    1. The hot bar is convenient when you have no time and too much to do, but definitely not worth the money (especially when you don't have the money!). Hence, my crock pot will be come my personal hot bar.

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  9. I have 2 comments about this (that probably contradict each other)

    First: my brother writes a blog about what he buys on the cheap and how he makes good meals out of it. http://grocerychopin.blogspot.com/ I'm addicted to reading it. He got me paying more attention to prices.

    Second: When Dave and I eat out it is between 20 and 40 but usually closer to 20. Twice now I've gone to the store just to buy ingredients for dinner that day and nothing else. Both times I spent roughly $20 and I had some of the ingredients at home already. And both of those meals were what I thought were more inexpensive because they involved pasta. I've made spreadsheets before to compare with people how for us, somehow eating at home and eating out was more inexpensive than eating at home all the time. It's been a few years since I made the spreadsheets so they'd be outdated but I might have them on my computer somewhere. I think I spend over 80 a week at the grocery store but having recently moved here, I still don't know what places have the best prices of everything. One thing going for us is that we never order alcohol out (and we don't drink it at home). We also order water at restaurants but not because we are cheap but because we prefer water. (I've ordered water at restaurants since I learned it was a possible thing in about 2nd grade). One thing we found is we snack more when we cook at home versus when we go to a restaurant. I'm not sure why. There are a few reasons I can think of but not 100% which it is or a combination of them all. (home for longer, after cooking feel more tired to sit on the couch and eat, not as fulfilled with things I cook myself.

    I always say it is cheaper to eat breakfast at lunch at home but dinner is where it gets up in the air and depends what we make/want to eat. Also I think a problem arises when I will cater to Dave so I make 2 variations of some dinner so then it takes longer, more food is involved, etc.

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    1. Oi. Sorry I didn't realize my comment got so wordy.

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