Cut Restaurant Spending and Learn to Love Dining In
(Guest Post by Shane of WeWearKhakis.com)
A few weeks ago, I was let go from my job. Since then, my wife and I have kicked into ultra frugal mode. If we do not need it, we simply do not buy it. While we have seen cuts in all areas, the place where we really noticed the cut was in our food spending. I was balancing my checkbook this past weekend and noticed just how fewer debits there were than only a few weeks back when I was working. I started investigating a bit and realized, all these cuts were primarily on convenience food spending.
A long time ago (about the time I had my first child) my wife and I stopped most fancy restaurant dining (as in anything more expensive than $5 footlongs). The dining experience was simply too expensive, the food generally too greasy or salty, and the effort of dragging a baby into a restaurant way too stressful. So we started eating in a bit more. Instantly, all that cash I had previously worried about finding to pay for diapers and other baby stuff emerged from the savings of not eating out!
But eventually, we started eating in more and more. The shift was partly due to the stress of dealing with our two young children after long days at work, and partly just laziness. While we were definitely not spending as much dining in on subs and sandwiches, carry out BBQ, or â€œTake and Bakeâ€ pizzas from Costco, we were spending more than we needed on convenience food.
Since cutting out the carry out restaurant and convenience foods, I have made some great realizations and changes. Meals do take more time to prepare (but Iâ€™m unemployed so I donâ€™t care!), and I have discovered a few other nice side effects.
My Meals are Healthier
When I make a pot of chili, I drain all the fat off the ground beef before adding it to the mix. When I cook a pizza, I opt for lower fat cheese or turkey pepperoni. When I make my own sandwiches, I go light on the mayo and eat whole grain wheat bread that my local sub-shop doesnâ€™t offer. When I cook for myself, I can also throw in more veggies, more chicken, and less crap.
Think of all the calories Iâ€™m saving. I am also burning quite a few calories in the process of preparing the meal while simultaneously keeping my three year old from killing the baby too.
My Meals lead to More Meals
Some people are picky about left-overs, but I think they are awesome. Iâ€™ve found a new love for meals that I can eat for days, especially meals cooked in slow cookers. When you buy prepared convenience food, youâ€™re typically buying one meal at a time, which is one of the less obvious reasons why it is so expensive.
I also learned a neat trick of using leftovers in stews and soups later. A plate of delicious leftover turkey/hamburgers makes a great base for soup later on and leftover chicken breast makes awesome chicken salad for the next evening.
Meal Preparing Time is Family Time
Cooking with my three year old is not exactly akin to taking the path of least resistance, but it really does provide a rewarding and fun experience for both my daughter and me. Since I have started cooking with her, I have quickly become the good parent in the house and eating our creations is always a ton of fun.
With any luck, by the time my little girl is eight, Iâ€™ll have her trained up well enough so that she can handle cooking all the meals while I take it easy and watch my afternoon reruns of Seinfeld.
Cooking Can Easily Double as a Hobby or Passion
I would never consider eating out a hobby or passion, but cooking has quickly become both for me. Once you take the dive into the culinary arts, you realize just how much technique, art, and science is involved. My new favorite chef is Alton Brown. I love his mix of science with Good Eats!
And while most hobbies cost you money and give you little to walk away with after the fact, you actually benefit greatly from this hobby. Plus, you have to eat anyway, might as well make it delicious and fun.
Being a Good Cook Makes for a Sexy Guy
Since really learning to cook and fine tuning my skills, I have noticed every woman who dines on one of my delicious creations instantly wants my body. It is no joke. Men who are genuinely good cooks are sexy. My sister in law swoons over me, my wifeâ€™s friendâ€™s giggle with joy as they subconsciously touch my arm lightly every time they taste one of my delectable sauces, and my relationship with my wife has been completely reinvigorated since I started becoming a ninja in the kitchen.
Being a good cook is sexy, and women love it- so learn to cook.
Why not make the effort become a master chef in your own right? Youâ€™ll be eating better, endlessly learning, building stronger relationships with your family or maybe even helping out your sex life in the process. You will also be saving tons of cash not eating out! So get in that kitchen and get to work.
Have any tips or comments of your own? Letâ€™s hear them in the comments!
Shane writes for www.WeWearKhakis.com – a site about life at work, personal finance, self improvement projects, and how to have a fulfilling life on a budget. Check out his site and learn how you can be an awesome guy or gal in Khakis too!