Friday, August 27, 2010

The No Dining Out Challenge

In the month of July, I was lazy.

Well, to be fair, I was busy. And lazy.

You see, when things got crazy at work or at home with kids activities, I'd forget about creating a menu for the week and sticking to it. If I didn't feel like making something for dinner, I'd tell The Husband to order some pizza or we'd go out for 'cheap Mexican'. Which really isn't that cheap, but at about $40 to feed the 5 of us, it's cheaper than our usual restaurant that can run almost twice that amount.

I pulled my 'I don't feel like cooking' routine so much in July that we spent six hundred dollars on restaurants.

Six hundred freaking dollars. When I was analyzing my spending for the month I thought it had to be a mistake. But it wasn't. It really was that bad. Six hundred dollars!

After I got done puking my guts out in disgust, I told The Husband that we were not resorting to takeout or restaurant food at all in the month of August. The only exception to this would be when we went to the state fair. Of course we'd eat there. And TH and I would be allowed the occasional lunches out while we're working. (Our normal lunch spending wasn't included in July's $600 anyway.)

So here it is. August 27th. We have four days left in the month and have stuck with the challenge. We haven't had takeout pizza or Chinese. We haven't gone out for dinner even once.

And you know what? There's money left over in the checking account. Amazing.

It has been an interesting test. Most days I've made the dinner I planned for, even if I had to force myself to do it, while my mind was screaming "I don't wanna!" like an overtired three-year-old. Remembering that $600 usually motivated me enough to get up off the couch to start dinner. In my mind, I visualized the money, displayed in a neat accounting ledger, in bright red ink with brackets around it to indicate that it's money spent, not money earned.

You know, like this:


ACK! That's horrible.

Last night I was tired from all the running (football practice, a cross country meet, and a cheer-leading clinic all in one evening after a 4:30 a.m. start and a long work day) and not hungry at all, so The Husband threw some burgers on the grill. Easy stuff.

So we're going to complete this challenge. September is only a few days away. I do miss having a nice family dinner out at a restaurant. I think in the future we'll limit dining out or ordering takeout to once every other week. Unless there's some kind of occasion to celebrate, that is.

So tell me, how are you finding ways to cut back and stretch your money a little bit further?


Anonymous said...

Due to my underemployment (thanks, GIANT ASS BANK, for not rehiring me)Scott and I don't eat out often, we pack our lunches, and have been working overtime. We are sticking to Netflix for entertainment, and an evening with friends involves games, and if we're feeling dangerous, coffee or beer. If you can think of any ideas, let me know!

Little Miss Sunshine State said...

We've been going to the veggie market and the meat market once a week and not buying lunches on our workdays.
My husband usually cooks about 8pounds of chicken on Sundays. We grill it in the George, put a different seasoning on each batch, put them in freezer bags and pull them out to put in salads, fajitas, sandwiches.
Tonight I marinated and grilled 3 pounds of boneless pork chops.
We brew a pot of coffee every morning and take travel mugs to work.

Barb said...

I find I spent less at the grocery store if I go every couple of days instead of a "big" trip once a week. This way I get just what I need and not what I think I'll need for the week. It also wastes less cause I can't count the number of times I'd gotten something and we didn't get around to using it and it was wasted.