Excuses for Eating Out

by Mike on March 24, 2010

Hi, my name is Lakita and I am an eat-out-o-holic. (Response: Hi Lakita!)

I would say that over the past few years I’ve done a better than average job of getting a hold on my spending and climbing out of debt. However, there is one area that has continued to slow down my progress. I spend WAY too much money eating out! If I’m not diligent in this area, I can easily spend $300/month. However, my best record is 30 days without eating out. To make matters worse, when I eat out, the food I get is not necessarily healthy. Double trouble.

I started to reflect on my reasons excuses for eating out so much. Hopefully I can get to the bottom of this issue. If you are also an “eat-out-o-holic”, perhaps you can find a solution too!

Excuse #1: It’s Easy & I’m Busy

My schedule is pretty full. Between work, church, writing, and other side projects I manage to stay gainfully employed. Sometimes it is easier to pull through a drive-thru and keep it moving. We pay for convenience. The reality is this is lack of planning. I possess organizational skills, so efficient meal planning is not an excuse. I should be able to plan meals that are healthy, tasty, simple and frugal (OK, I’ll take any 3). I’ve prepared several crock pot dishes in the past. With a little planning I can have a meal waiting for me when I get home.

Excuse #2: The Food Tastes Good

Every once in a while I get a craving for something that is easier to get already prepared than to make at home. The reality is most of the food I eat out I can make at home.

Excuse #3: Social Activity

Sometimes I eat out with Mr. A or friends. Dining out has become a social pastime. I used to go out to eat every day at work. It was refreshing to go off-site for a while. This became very expensive between gas and food so I’m happy to announce I’ve cut that habit. There are still the occasional outings and celebrations, but I don’t mind those.

It’s time to find more creative ways to socialize! I’ve been thinking about planning and hosting a game night with some friends. Pot lucks are always a great way to bring people together to eat and socialize that doesn’t cost much. Consequently, if the social time lands at a restaurant, I can consider an appetizer or dessert as opposed to a full meal.

The bottom line is when I go shopping, I tend to cook more, eat healthier foods, and spend less money. The problem is, I don’t go grocery shopping as often as I should. However, there is a ray of hope. I went shopping a couple days ago and have meals planned for the rest of the week. Yesterday I made a black bean soup that was very tasty. The cost for ingredients was around $10 and I have well over 10 servings. In fact, I froze half (hope that works). If you have any frugal recipes that you would like to see published on PFJ send them to me. I’ll compile a post of recipes in the near future.

Once I fully integrate grocery shopping into my routine, I’ll be looking for tips and tricks to become a more savvy shopper! Stay tuned!

What about you? Do you eat out more than you should? Why or why not?

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1 Simple in France April 4, 2010 at 6:51 am

Hi Latika 😉

We eat out much less than we used to, but I suppose you could call us recovering restaurant addicts. We did it for some of the reasons you give–too tired, too busy or couldn’t think of a clever social activity . .

It took some time but we weaned ourselves of that one. I ALWAYS make sure I have something cheap, easy and frozen on hand in case exhaustion sets in. Back in the US it was frozen pizza from TJ’s. That’s good stuff! Here I tend to make a lentil dish, black bean dish or chili and freeze it. Those recipes cost us less than 2 euros per meal per person, so it’s worth it.
.-= Simple in France´s last blog ..Reading for a Snowy Sunday in April =-.

2 PF Journey April 4, 2010 at 9:23 am

Haha, I like that….recovering restaurant addicts!

I left a Black Bean recipe here: http://personalfinancejourney.com/2010/03/along-the-journey-weekly-roundup-8-frugal-recipes-edition/#comment-476

And you reminded me, I have a lentil recipe I need to try. I also am trying to keep some frozen foods around for when I don’t have time for anything else. Currently I have a stash of Lean Pockets and frozen black bean stew. Last week I did really good cooking meals and eating fresh veggies with every meal. Only ate out 2x. Lets see if I can improve this week!

3 RainyDaySaver March 31, 2010 at 3:17 pm

I used to eat out often — “diners, drive-thrus and dives” was me! But now, I keep my money where it belongs, AND kept off the weight I lost when I quit going out to eat. Hubby and I might get sushi once or twice a month, but that’s it.

4 PF Journey April 1, 2010 at 10:11 am

So true! Eating out is a sure way to add on the pounds! PS ~ I LOVE sushi!

5 youngandthrifty March 29, 2010 at 1:40 am

Hi Lakita,

My name is youngandthrifty, and I too, eat out often.
But it’s soo cheap here (Vancouver) to do so (sushi, noodle soups, falafels, you name it!), which is the dangerous part. Sometimes I find that if I make the same things from scratch, it costs me double the amount that it would cost to just eat out.

I love crock pots too- so easy! Just throw everything in there and come home to the delicious aroma of passive-cooking =)

Great idea about freezing portions- I think that’s the key for all us full-time work folks.
.-= youngandthrifty´s last blog ..Dear MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest, I Now Lay You to Rest =-.

6 Forest March 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I love eating out so actually do save money every month to do so… however it’s my vice and I tend to go to more budget places…. I do make the occassional excuse but am getting better at not doing the unplanned outings!

7 Lakita (PFJourney) March 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm

I’m getting better too! Like I haven’t ate out in over a week. I’ve been eating salads with most of my meals. And drinking lots of water and OJ

8 harvestwages March 25, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Hey Latika,
eating out has never been my thing. $300/month is so much, may be because i’m so busy. For me, when i’m so busy, i ignore food. i may spend a day without eating. I’ve never loved eating out, i love eating home with the family – food cook home taste good for me.
.-= harvestwages´s last blog ..5 traps that seduces great minds =-.

9 Ronnie March 24, 2010 at 6:08 pm

If my boyfriend goes to the gym before work, like he did yesterday, he leaves home at 5:30 am and comes home at 11 pm. Not a good look. I’m just a lazy bum–I have no excuses (except for when I have trial :D). So I cook twice a week: once on Saturday or Sunday I’ll crockpot something, and I’ll cook 2 days later so we can rotate meals. Thankfully we can both eat leftovers for days without getting tired of it.

I’m working on incorporating regular menu planning because our costs are so low when we consistently do it! But we’re both suckers for advertising: “honey, what do you want for dinner?” “Olive Garden!” “Okay, why?” “Because I just saw a commercial and it looks GOOD!” Change restaurant, repeat daily. If we don’t keep something in the house, we’ll easily lose our collective minds (not to mention waistlines!!!).

10 PF Journey March 25, 2010 at 9:32 pm

I hear ya! Advertising is a big one! And the take out places have the prime locations too. They are making it easier and easier….take out, delivery, stop and go, order online….sheesh!

I also notice a dramatic decrease in cost when I cook and eat at home. In fact, I haven’t ate out all week. Tonight I cooked pan seared tilapia with salad and a baked potato. Simple, healthy, delicious, and frugal (only because the tilapia was on sale!)

11 Joseph | Kickdebtoff March 24, 2010 at 4:14 pm

we hardly eat out these days (actually we do once a month) This is after we spent all our grocery money on dining out about a year and half ago. It takes effort and will power to say NO.
.-= Joseph | Kickdebtoff´s last blog ..The Debt Free Cornerstones =-.

12 PF Journey March 24, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Been there – done that….got the T-shirt!

13 Abigail March 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Oh my yes we do! My main problem is the combination of chronic fatigue and depression. It really limits my ability to get things done. Essentially, if I have to shop for ingredients that day, chances are I won’t also be cooking. It sucks, but it’s true.

I try to avoid it but lately it’s been bad. It goes in cycles, as my depression waxes and wanes. But in the end you just have to try and make a plan, stick to it as much as possible and forgive the oh-so-human trespasses against the budget (and waistline!)
.-= Abigail´s last blog ..Tripping ’round the blogosphere =-.

14 PF Journey March 24, 2010 at 4:44 pm


I just read your about (who me) page on your blog. You have quite a story to tell, thank you for sharing.

15 Carlos Frank March 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Hi Lakita! My name is Carlos and I to eat out way to much! With 4 kids and to “busy” parents the excuse of eating is such an easy one to justify in our minds! You know what I’ve found is that 9 times out of 10 convenience is not good for us especially when it comes to food! Not only are we hurting our finances but we are hurting our health which in long run can once again hurt our finances! Looking forward to the recipes that you find! BTW that hamburger LOOKS YUMMYY!!!
.-= Carlos Frank´s last blog ..7 Reason’s I Respect Dave Ramsey! =-.

16 PF Journey March 24, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Hi Carlos!

You’ve hit the nail on the head! Eating out non-healthy foods can lead towards long term health problems, which can lead to more doctor visits, medical bills etc.

And yes….that hamburger looks delicious

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