We live in a fast-paced culture where most folks find themselves eating on the run. As a result, eating out tends to take a larger portion of our budget than we anticipate. If the local restaurants are keeping you from building that emergency fund, it’s time to get weird with the Super-Size Challenge!
Take these small steps throughout the week—and throughout the year—and watch your food budget grow!
Split An Entrée.
Most restaurant portions are too large anyway. If you haven’t tried splitting an entrée with someone you’re with, you will be pleasantly surprised when you do. If you’re single or eating alone, try asking for a half portion.
Super-Size No More.
It’s the fast-food restaurants where we so easily super-size our meals and our waistlines. If you have to hit the burger joint or chicken place this week, don’t upsize your meal. Your wallet will thank you.
Water, Please, Mr. Waiter.
Businesses have to look for new ways to increase revenue, but you are paying the price. Some eateries are charging nearly $3 for a soda! Whether you’re single or in a large family, you can reduce your food bill by 20% or more by just ordering tap water with your meal.
Coupons Are Key.
Now the challenge gets a little more difficult, because you are starting to make small adjustments to your lifestyle with this task. If you don’t have a coupon for your favorite restaurant, then don’t darken its door. Consider this a baby step toward planning your restaurant spending. Put your coupons in an envelope and carry it with you like cash. You will be glad you did.
Pack A Lunch.
Millions of folks take their lunch to work every day; now it’s your turn. If you’re not currently organized enough to plan out an entire week’s lunch menu, set a goal of taking your lunch at least two days this week. You don’t have to eat at your desk and sulk, thinking brown-baggers have no friends; find a break room or a picnic table to make it feel like a real lunch break.
Eat At Home.
You knew we were going to get to this sooner or later. For many, eating out is a budget-wrecker, but it can be fixed. Eating at home—or at least creating your meals at home to take with you—can pump up your pocketbook. If your friends are determined to keep eating out, try inviting them over and ask them to bring a dish. If you are going to be weird, you’ve got to eat at home the majority of the time.
Make A Meal Plan.
Eating at home can be intimidating because it involves planning your meals. If you don’t plan your grocery-shopping trips, you can end up spending more than you would eating out. Remember, you don’t have to spend two hours cooking a fancy dinner each night. Make a list of your favorite meals and be realistic about prep time. If you’re still lost, try using an inexpensive meal planning service. Dave recommends E-Mealz.