Dining out serves many purposes. It can be a social experience, a convenience when you don’t have time to cook, or simply a way to try new cuisines. However, once you get in the habit of dining out or ordering in regularly, the costs can add up quickly. In fact, restaurant food is marked up as much as 300%!1 That means if you cooked all those same meals at home, your grocery bill of ingredients would only be a third of what it is now.
Financial experts suggest budgeting to spend 10-15% of your take-home pay on food2, which includes both groceries and eating out. You will not have to stop eating out completely to save money. With just a few small changes, you can reduce the amount you spend on food and as a result your financial stress level.
Look at your credit card bill over the last month to determine what your takeout vices are. Is it happy hour with co-workers? Pizza takeout? Morning lattes? Once you discover a pattern, you can take steps to address the problem, such as waking up earlier to make your coffee at home.
If you’re new to preparing your own food, you’ll want to stock up on basic ingredients. These may include grains, spices, canned goods, proteins, greens, condiments, eggs, and flour.3 By choosing recipes for the week before you do your grocery shopping, you can ensure you have all the right ingredients on hand and do not overbuy.
If planning your own meals seems too overwhelming, a meal kit subscription can help you ease into your cooking journey by sending you step-by-step instructions on how to prepare meals along with the exact ingredients. Though this option is sometimes more costly than doing your own grocery shopping, at around $7 per serving, it is usually cheaper than dining out.5
It’s unrealistic to try to go from eating all your meals out to eating at home every day, but you can find ways to still enjoy occasional meals out without breaking the bank.
Going to the restaurant to get your own food helps you save money on delivery fees.2
● Utilize coupons. Follow your favorite restaurants on social media or subscribe to their emails to make sure you hear about any specials.4 Food delivery apps also regularly send out coupon codes that can reduce your order total.
● Cut out the extras. When dining at a restaurant, additions like beverages and appetizers make your meal unnecessarily pricy. Ordering water instead of alcohol or soda knocks several dollars off your bill, which benefits your budget in the long run.5
● Split your meal. Whether you’re sharing an entree with someone else or bringing home the second half to eat as leftovers, splitting your meal stretches your dollar even further and is an economical way to eat out on a budget.4
● Go out for breakfast or lunch. Dinner is often the most expensive meal of the day, so if you’re scheduling meals out with friends, try grabbing breakfast or lunch for a cheaper outing.5
Budgeting for three square meals a day can be tricky, especially when unexpected expenses come up. For extra financial support, try applying for a payday loan from LendNation. With in-store and online options, you can be approved for quick payday loans within minutes and get the cash you need the same day. Apply online today!
Loans are not available to members of the military.
Customer Notice: There are a wide variety of financial products available in the marketplace, so your choice of such products should match your financial needs. Short-term, small dollar credit used over a long period of time can be expensive. Certain restrictions may apply, including state database and credit underwriting standards and limitations. Visit a LendNation store or contact us for details.
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