Restaurant Meals ... On An Eat-At-Home Budget

Jan 16, 2015

Who's doesn't love eating out. There’s something nice about a good, hot meal you didn’t cook, someone else serving and clearing, and deciding what you want to have just minutes before eating. Yum!

At the same time, eating out can get pricey. Very pricey. So, while you might want to indulge on occasion, is it possible to get the experience (and the food!) without the expense?

With enough planning, it is absolutely possible. Here are a few ideas, and we’re sure you’ll come up with your own. When you do, please share them with us-so we can share them with other members.

1. Switch off

Whoever you’re sharing space with (spouse, partner, child, roommate), chances are they’d be up for a once a week cooking experience in exchange for your offer of an in-house restaurant meal. This means that, on your special night, you do nothing-no cooking, chopping, setting, or clearing. Discuss foods that will be served in advance so all dining preferences are met.

2. Switch with another family/couple

One night you’re the guest, another night, you play host.

3. Prepare in advance

You might want to take the weekend to do this. Think through what you’d order if you ate out every night. Fast food? French? Chinese? American? Whatever you’re craving, cook in bulk, freeze in individual (or family) portions, and heat as needed. This isn’t the whole restaurant experience, but it gives you what you want without having to cook as soon as you get home from work.

4.Seek specials

Sometimes you really want to feel taken care of, and a nice restaurant will do just that. While it’s more expensive than eating in, you can be savvy about deciding where and when you go out (try a late lunch instead of dinner) and what you order. Forgo all alcoholic drinks (you can pour them when you get home), extras, and desserts. Have water instead of soda and teas. Or, go just for dessert. Depending upon portion sizes, an appetizer and dessert may be just what you need.

5. Clip coupons

Then use them wisely. If you weren’t planning to eat out, but go because of the coupon, you’ve spent money you wouldn’t have spent otherwise. But if you’re looking for a nice evening out, a coupon can help. Just go with a budget, and stick to it.