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Week 2 of No Dining Out…


This week wasn’t as bad as I expected. I’ve been planning meals a week in advance and have been able to trim our unwieldy grocery budget. I go into the grocery store with a plan and stick to it! Well… except for the 99 cent bag of red licorice. We all have our vices.

This was the first week we had to expose our ‘no dining out’ policy to friends. Hmph.

My husband and I joined my brother and his wife while they searched for a new home. After a few hours of driving neighborhoods and meeting with realtors, we were starved. My brother drove down a fast food laden street and said, ‘Where do you guys want to go to lunch?’

My husband gave me ‘the’ look. The look that said, ‘You came up with the no dining out policy, therefore, you should explain it.’

I flubbed out something Yoda-ish, ‘We can’t…uh… 60 days of no dining out… money…tight…save, trying to …err…uh…home, eat at.’

‘OK Captain Crazy’ he replied, paused, then added, ‘We need to save money too since we’re buying the house. Good idea – well, what I could understand of it.’

We’re getting there. A little bit at a time. Sure folks think I’m nuts but since I’m so close to the debt free finish line…

I could care less.


  • Reply Laura |

    Great job! And it sounds like you have a great (and well, typical brother)… call you silly name and then agree with you! Not a bad first having to tell people!

    Perhaps you’ll ending helping out more people’s budgets than just yours! Have you thought about doing a pot luck some nights with friends?

  • Reply David Bibby |

    Of course people will think you’re nuts.. but you’re doing something temporarily and not forever.

    Later.. you can eat out “frugally” by finding restaurants where kids eat free or when they have specials.

    Recently we went to Chick-Fil-A for “Cow Appreciation Day” and we dressed up like cows.

    For looking silly for an hour I, my wife, and my 2 kids each received a FULL SIZE combo meal. It was a lot of fun and the total savings was over $20.

    Don’t worry about what people think.

  • Reply Katie |

    I still don’t understand. Every time you would normally go get food (at a low priced fast food restaurant at that) you just end up skipping the meal altogether?

  • Reply Mrs. Modern Tightwad |

    I hate to disagree with you, but obviously you do care. If you could truly care less then you wouldn’t have indistinguishably mumbled to your brother-in-law. And the minute he asked about stopping you would’ve clearly said, “Nope, not in the plan this month” and explained instead of waiting for you husband to pass the buck. Not that there’s anything wrong with caring about what the people you love think, but it is essential to be honest with yourself. Possibly a better statement would be, “I don’t want them to think I’m completely off my rocker, but we’re so close to being debt free I’d rather be thought completely batty then go out to fast food just for appearances. I care more for my financial freedom.” Just a thought.

  • Reply Dream Mom |

    I think it’s great you are focused on being debt free. You have to have that level of focus to meet your goals. But there is another option. It’s simply a matter of going to the next step. Why not just have some things at home that you can prepare quickly and invite them over. For example, if you knew you were going out looking at houses and you’d be hungry when you got home, think ahead to what you could make. Then when they wanted to go out to eat, you could have said that you were cutting back to pay off some debt but that you had a delcious meal at home for everyone. Then you’d still get to visit, talk about the houses you saw and keep the money in your wallet. You’d both be happy and everyone would be full and have eaten well.

    For example, my ex-husband has to come help me take my severely disabled son to the doc since I don’t own a wheelchair van and I can no longer lift him. On those days, he lifts my son (180 pounds) into the SUV. Of course we are tired and hungry when we get home. On those days, I always have lunch or dinner prepared in advance. For example, I have a Zojirushi Mini bread machine (only $.44 cents to make a loaf)and make my own pizza dough. I always keep some in the freezer. The night before I put it in the refrigerator and the morning of, I spread the dough, add the sauce and essentially make the pizza but don’t bake it. It’s all ready in the refrigerator. When we get home, I preheat the oven, bake for 15 minutes and it’s done. Other days, I might make a meatloaf (with bison) and have it all prepared and cooked in advance. I started this to save money so we didn’t have to spend money on fast food plus fast food is usually of lower quality, that’s why it’s fast and it’s cheap.

    I realize these things take time to implement. You already made a huge step in paying off all that debt and in meal planning. For now, it’s something you can just think about, as you move towards your debt free lifestyle.

  • Reply JMK |

    Would stopping at a grocery store for picnic supplies have violated your no eating out project? We do a lot of this when on a road trip or vacation. Grab buns in the bakery, deli meat and cheese and a few pieces of fruit.

    I agree that planning ahead is key. If you didn’t know you’d be out with them long enough to consider the next meal that one thing. If we have errands to run and I suspect we’ll be hearing the “I’m hungry” chorus from the kids before we can get home, then I pack PBJ sandwiches, veggie sticks and containers of juice in a cooler. If we’re pressed for time we’ll eat while we drive, but usually we find a bit of grass or a bench somewhere and have a quick picnic. The picnic costs less than $5 to put together but a fast food meal for our family generally runs about $25.

  • Reply Miss Sassy Pants |

    I have to say I really admire you. I tried a no eating out policy this week and only got to Wednesday. I really don’t know how you do it!

  • Reply Vicki |

    Adding my 5 cents here. I am notorious at work for brown bagging. I plan my meals carefully, and do a lot of soups and so forth during the weekend. I refuse to eat out unless it is for a special occasion, even if it fast food.

  • Reply Liz |

    You know, I read a book awhile ago called “Not Buying It.” I forget who it’s by, but a woman chronicles her experiences during a year of not buying anything except food at the grocery store for a year. It’s an interesting read, and if you bring it up with people, maybe it will sound to them like you’re conducting your own social/psychological experiment.

  • Reply Beks |

    Laura – Good idea!

    David – You’re awesome! We don’t have a chick-fil-a out here – otherwise, I would have been there!

    Katie – No, I ate at home instead.

    Dream Mom – I didn’t expect to be out so late. It was initially a 20 minute house inspection that turned into 3-4 hours. I was unprepared.

    JMK – Nope, grocery stops don’t count against me. We actually had food at home and we whipped up some delicious lettuce wraps instead of fast food.

    Miss Sassy Pants – Sometimes, I drive by Taco Bell just to smell the yumminess. Ugh. I miss it!!

    Vicki – Congrats! It’s hard to do!

    Liz – It’s by Judith Levine – and I added it to my library rental list. Sounds interesting!! And like a good excuse!!

  • Reply christy |

    We rarely ever eat out anymore. Occasionally we will get a few burritos from Chipotle, but we usually only do that once or twice a month. We used to be the WORST. We would eat out 2 or 3 times a week!

    Also, we only go to the grocery store once every two weeks now. I meal plan, and buy everything I need at one time. Repeat trips to the grocery store were just as bad as eating out (I can’t leave the grocery store without spending at least $50, regardless of how much food we have at home. It is a sickness.)

  • Reply Dogfood Provider |

    I have been there with the mumbling. Isn’t it funny that being fiscally responsible has some sort of strange shame to it in our culture, but spending willy nilly has no taboo at all?

    I think, next time, you should tell people who ask why that you are doing it for a reality show! People do all kinds of crazy things to try and get on reality shows. 🙂

    Or maybe you could make up a different reason every time . . .

  • Reply emmi |

    Not eating out becomes its own addiction. Fast food really sucks, something you’ll realize if you get off it long enough. Sticking with your plan is good enough on health reasons alone (if you need another excuse to give out).

  • Reply John |

    I love what you are doing. Not eating out saves so much money. Extra money that can be applied to your debt and get it paid off sooner. I love that you inspired your friends too and helped them realize they should be financially responsible since they are buying a home.

  • Reply Rose M |

    I think it’s just awesome that you’re taking this no eating out challenge – and sticking to it. It can cost so much money. It’s one area we spend too much ourselves. Not to mention everything in restaurants is prepared with so much unneeded salt and fat! We’ve been preparing more meals at home ourselves, for health reasons mostly, but you can’t argue with the money savings!

  • Reply James Hess |

    That is why you are almost debt free staying focused and on track. A great plan is just a great plan unless you live by it.

  • Reply Anne |

    Wow I’m impressed! My husband and I tried that and we failed. 🙁 We ate out last Saturday and its only tuesday, I guess using credit wisely is hard since we keep putting food on our cards 🙁 good for you though!

  • Reply Pocci |

    Couldn’t. Couldn’t care less. If you could care less, it means you do care, because it’s possible to care less than you currently do. If you couldn’t care less, it means you already don’t care, so there is no way for you to care less than do now.

    Glad to here you are so close though.

So, what do you think ?