One of the best ways to tighten your budget is to cut back on the amount of money you spend on take-out and restaurant food. Besides, not only is eating at home cheaper, it’s most often healthier, too. Here are nine ideas to help you avoid the fast food temptation.
1. Grab and eat foods rule. One of the reasons we love fast food is because it’s fast. In just a few minutes, we’re chowing on hot, tasty foods that satisfy our need for immediate gratification. Healthy foods to keep on hand are trail mix, fresh fruits and veggies (precut for easier consumption), granola bars (yes, you can make your own at home), pudding or Jello, pretzels, cottage cheese, salads, and sweet treats like miniature candy bars or Hershey’s kisses. Packaging foods in baggies makes it easy to take snacks with you when you leave the house, too.
2. Money saved is money earned. Start a special savings fund for something you’ve always wanted, like that new fishing boat motor, an iPad, or an exotic vacation. Every time you’re tempted to eat out, take the money you would have spent on take out food and add it to your dream fund. The knowledge of saving for something worthwhile is often enough of a motivator to keep you from turning into that McDonald’s after work.
3. Make cooking at home enjoyable. Turn up your favorite music, involve the whole family, or splurge on a nice set of spices. Whatever it takes to make cooking enjoyable for you is an investment worth investing in. Trying out new recipes, creating your own dishes, and filing your home with the smells of home cooked food can all be great starting points for fostering a love of cooking. If it’s enjoyable, cooking at home can be healthy and relaxing, making it an ideal hobby.
4. Planning ahead helps you avoid temptation. Menu planning and preparing foods in advance can really help out when you’re feeling unmotivated to cook, and tempted to eat out. You can make your own Hot Pockets and freeze them for later, or keep a prepared menu every week to take the pain out of deciding what’s for supper.
5. Learn to make your favorite fast foods at home. If you simply can’t live without that Big Mac, or get a weekly hankering for KFC chicken, you can learn to recreate your favorite fast food recipes at home.
6. Make meals a social occasion. Another way to take the pain out of eating at home is to create a meal rotation plan with your neighbors and friends. You rotate meeting at everybody’s own homes one day a week to showcase everyone’s cooking skills and to enjoy some fun times. Quite often, the company makes even the most mundane meals exciting.
7. Spruce up your kitchen and dining area. If you take time to make your kitchen and dining area attractive and appealing, you will be extra motivated to spend time in those areas of your home. If your kitchen features brightly colored dishes and your favorite framed prints, you’ll be more likely to be drawn to your own kitchen rather than a dingy fast food restaurant.
What motivates you to eat at home? Do you have any stories about how saving money by skipping the fast food has enriched your life? Share your experiences with other MoneyNing readers!