My hubby and I are starting a month-long experiment – to not spend any of our own money on dining out. So, from June 15 through July 14, we have agreed to not spend our own money on Starbucks (ouch!) or any dining establishment for any meal for any reason, not even take-out.
Why are we putting ourselves through this luxury food diet? Well, there are 5 main reasons:
- We spend WAY too much money on going out to eat. On average, for the last year, we’ve spent about $475 a month (that’s $110 a week!) a month on outside-the-home dining, and that’s in addition to groceries. That’s $5,700 a year – easily two vacations or a trip to Europe!
- We want to be more European. According to a recent report, Europeans are the least likely to venture out for a meal, with more than half saying they only go out to eat once a month. Like the French, most Europeans prefer to eat meals prepared at home with friends and family – a la the French lifestyle. Maybe that’s why they are so thin! For many Americans, eating out every day for every meal is just fine because they won’t so much as boil water or fry an egg. As for my husband and I, we like to cook and, for the most part, are pretty good at it. I’m sure after a month of cooking all meals at home, we’ll get even better.
- We want to break our bad habits. Time or lack of it, is a major factor in why my husband and I revert to restaurant meals. We often find ourselves grabbing a “quick” lunch out, or being too tired or ill prepared to make dinner, resulting in a restaurant outing. Eating out seems to be a very easy and comfortable alternative for us. Aside from this, we are huge Starbucks fanatics. Whether it’s frappuccinos, iced tea, hot chocolate, or sweets, one of us would frequent the green mermaid at least once a day. It’s fine when you walk into a place where “everybody knows your name”, I just wish I didn’t hear the sound of a cash register when they are saying it.
- We want to make dining out “special” again. We dine out so often (for work and for fun) that eating out just isn’t a treat like it used to be for us. It has become ritualistic and even a source of argument as we decide where to go to eat. Really, who wants to drop $50-75 on a meal and not really enjoy it? Not me – anymore!
- We want to eat healthier at our own price. When we eat out, we are never really sure what is going into our food. Restaurants claim they use the “freshest” foods and “quality” ingredients, but the only people who know if this is true are the people who work there. So, in essence, we could be spending $50 a meal on highly processed food loaded with sugar and salt, when we could have prepared a much healthier, and better tasting, meal at home. It also is difficult to control portion sizes when dining out. Although we’ve tried splitting dishes and foregoing an appetizer, this is just not working for us (especially for my husband’s waistline). By eating at home, we can control what ingredients go into our meals and how much is prepared and consumed.
When all is said and done, we hope to feel better about what we are eating, save a little money, and become healthier in the process.
Stay tuned to see if we remained steadfast or if we cracked under the pressure of the Starbucks’ sign!