I must admit I am hopeless to give advice on reducing the cost of eating out, because eating out to me means about as much as a book on string theory does to the next person. Fortunately, I got “saved” by S who has taken a year off to travel around US and Canada by car staying with friends.

I think it’s key to make it easier to eat in than out. This week we’re on a mountain in the middle of nowhere with a great kitchen, so we’ve eaten every meal here. We eat out an unfortunately large amount when not traveling too. There are a lot of restaurants within a 3 block area of my house. Here are some things I’m going to try:

  1. Prepare and pack a meal before setting out to a new location. We have been stopping off at restaurants when traveling between stops.
  2. Plan meals in advance. This used to work really well for me but I got out of the habit. Basically, I picked out menus for 5 lunches and 5 dinners and made sure I had ingredients for them. I crossed them off the list as they were made. The motivation of “wasted ingredients” and the ease of the planning being done helped a lot to make sure that food got eaten.
  3. Carry something easy to prepare at all times. I’m thinking a can of veggie chili with a pull top or something similarly durable as an emergency meal in case the only other option is taco bell. I’m hoping that wouldn’t happen often. πŸ˜›

The other two sources of going out time are social (staying with friends or DH is bored). I really don’t want to be the killjoy that won’t go out, especially to folks that are housing us. One possible solution is to cook some meals for our hosts (we’ve done that a few times already). Even feeding two extra people usually ends up being cheaper than eating out depending on the meal. DH would probably be willing to stay home more if I implemented the meal plan idea.

I suggested finding other activities such as walking, movie nights, or playing board games. It’s difficult though. Since I started eating only once a day it really becomes obvious how often “normal” people “need” to eat and how much of “normal” life revolves around eating.

In terms of meal planning, I never really planned anything. What I do make sure of, though, is the the output of each meal can serve well as the input of the next meal. That way I never really have to worry about leftovers. This also means we throw out very little.

Originally posted 2010-06-24 21:59:11.