Eating in is one of the best and easiest ways to save money. Before I started saving money
recently, I was eating almost every meal out. It was getting out of control. Let's look at
an average day: $5.75 Jamba Juice Breakfast, $9.00 lunch at Baja Fresh or Boston Market, and
$9.00 dinner again at Baja Fresh or Boston Market. This comes out to $23.75 per day or
$166.25 per week or an astonishing $8,645 per year. It's no wonder that I was not saving
any money, it was all going to food. Because eating out can be so expensive, this is often
a very easy target for reducing costs and saving more money.
Eating In Is Saving Me $4,000 Dollars Per Year
I have completely changed my habits. Even though I have a stressful job and it's very
tempting to eat every meal out to save me the time of shopping for food and cooking, I have
changed my ways because the savings are undeniable. I'm now eating at home for 75 percent
of my meals each week. Let's look at my typical day eating all meals in: free breakfast
at office (they provide cereal, milk, and juices), $4.00 sandwich and chips for lunch that
I make myself, $5.00 dinner that I cook myself (I'm not too skilled at cooking and usually
just eat a TV dinner). This cheap day now only costs $9.00 per day in food. Since I'm eating
this cheap day for 75 percent of my week and the expensive day ($23.75 per day) for 25 percent
of my week, my overall food expenses are now around $88.90 per week or $4,623 per year which has
almost reduced my food expenses in half and is saving me around $4,022 per year! To summarize my
calculation: 0.75 x $9.00 + $23.75 x 0.25 = approximately $12.70 per day in food expenses. $12.70
x 7 = $88.90 per week and $88.90 x 52 = $4,622.80 per year in food expenses.
The Key To Savings Is Knowing When To Splurge
Why am I not going the cheap route 100 percent of the time? Life is meant to be enjoyed. My top
priority is to save for a home mortgage down payment but I have to live life and enjoy myself. By
continuing to eat out, I'm able to really enjoy the present. An added benefit of scaling my
eating out back is that I now enjoy each and every time I eat out that much more. It is a treat
for me to eat out and the 25 percent of the time I eat out is really enjoyable.
Extra Tips To Further Cut Your Eating Expenses
Some additional points of note: Bringing a lunch to work requires either a lunch bag or box. I
always prefer fixed costs to recurring costs and recommend investing in a lunch box for that
reason. You can purchase a really nice one at Target for
a good price. Once you have your lunch box, you will need some plastic bags to store your food.
Try to purchase the cheapest ones possible since you will be just throwing them out anyway
after you eat your lunch. I was able to purchase some good plastic bags for cheap at my local
99 Cent Store. In the spirit of enjoying life, I also
recommend enjoying some nice meals out with friends and with your significant other. My actual
expenses on food are higher than the ones above because I like to eat out with my girlfriend
on the weekend. At the same time, we have also been able to save money by eating more and more
meals together at home.
As an additional resource, learn how others are saving money by eating in by reading Free
Save Money by Eating