Using restaurants as a fall back dinner option can get expensive fast, especially if you frequent sit down restaurants or have a family.
Instead of using restaurants as our fall back option, my wife and I hope to try some of the following unconventional ways to spend less at restaurants.
The whole goal of these ideas is to make dining out a conscious spending choice, not a decision because we can’t decide what to make at home.
Meal planning is something we’ve done on a very basic level… sometimes. Our new goal is to work on making meal planning easier for us. I don’t know about you, but this is normally how our meal planning conversations go each week.
Tori: What do you want for dinner this week?
Me: I don’t know. What do you want?
Tori: I asked you first!
As you can see, we never get very far and just end up buying odds and ends. Recently, I came up with an idea to change that.
Rather than simply try to come up with meal ideas each week, I’m going to make a book of all of the meals we like to eat. We only tend to remember the things we’ve made most recently even though there are many more meals we enjoy.
Rather than getting stuck in a rut, we can go to the book of meals we like to see what we want. Hopefully this book will grow to be rather expansive over time so we never feel like we’re eating the same things over and over again.
While we’re meal planning for a week or a month, we’ll also keep in mind the local sales fliers for grocery stores. These can both give us ideas for other meals and save us money at the same time.
Hopefully these couple of new ideas help make our meal planning process easier which should also reduce the number of times we go to a restaurant because we can’t decide what we want for dinner.
Individual Freezer Meal Portions
Another option we’re looking into is freezer meals. Basically, we plan to make extra portions of the easily freezable meals we cook.
Since we’ll just have to cook a little bit more than normal, there shouldn’t be any additional work for us to prepare these. All we have to do is set aside a couple of portions in freezable containers.
This should help us out on nights we don’t feel like cooking. Instead of going out to a restaurant, we’ll just have to thaw and warm up our meal for dinner.
It will probably take a bit of experimenting to see what freezes well versus what doesn’t, but some trial and error along with some research on the wonderful internet should be saving us money in no time.
Pre-Made Slow Cooker Recipes
Pre-made slow cooker recipes will take a bit more work, but sound like another good option for days we don’t feel like we’ll have enough time to cook.
All we’ll do is prepare a few freezable slower cooker recipes and pop them in our freezer until the day we plan to cook them. Then, we’ll just put them in the slow cooker in the morning, turn it on and our meal should be ready by dinner time.
These three ideas should definitely help us spend less of our money at restaurants. If we follow these three ideas then dining out should be of a more conscious activity rather than just a back up for when we can’t figure out what to cook or eat.
What do you do to try to cut down on those nights where you go out to eat just because it’s easier than cooking? Do you do your own meal planning? Do you ever make freezer meals or pre-made slow cooker recipes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo by: kimeke1 Text added by: Lance Cothern