30 day eat-in challenge

These are Sonic Chilli Cheese Tots. I eat this!!

One of the guiltiest of guilty pleasures in my life are tater tots covered in cheese.

I mean, really, it’s potatoes covered in cheese in general, but there is something about driving up to Sonic and sinking my plastic spork into some cheesy tots.

Amanda, you can make tater tots at home. Sonic pulls them from a bag of frozen potatoes just like you could at home.

It doesn’t end with Sonic. I am addicted to eating out.

To me, eating out isn’t about sustenance; its’ not even about ease. It’s about socializing, getting out of the house, spending time with Hubby without discussing who has to cook or clean up. It’s about ordering what we both want without having to compromise, like we do at home. It’s an hour in my evening that isn’t the same old routine.

It’s also making us poor.

OK, I’m being dramatic. We’re not poor because we go out to eat. We have a little budget for eating out that we always exceed, and I don’t like that.  Hubby’s paychecks are a little less during the summer, too.  I could essentially make almost everything we order in my own home, but I don’t. It just isn’t as appealing.

We fill up our fridge, pantry and freezer with, say, chicken and flour tortillas, but then at the last minute deicde we have to visit Las Margaritas. We have frozen BBQ and buns, but then David’s BBQ sounds so much better.

What is it about going out to eat that makes the food taste so much better than in my own kitchen?

I’m going to be taking the next 30 days to find that out. I’m imposing a challenge on myself and my family to eat in as much as possible for the next 30 days, starting July 1.  I’m blogging about it because maybe y’all will hold me accountable.

Here are my rules:

  1. If we go out to eat, it has to be less than $10 for the two of us.
  2. It’s OK to eat out using a gift-card, if we have one.
  3. We cannot exceed the $120 per month limit for eating out.
  4. Meals have to be mainly using food we already have in our deep freezer, fridge or pantry.
  5. This applies to breakfast, lunches at work and home and dinners.

I’m going to try to blog about it every Thursday through July to update my progress. The good and the bad.

Wish me luck!

Do you have any tips for saving money eating in? Any good recipes you want to share? Leave them here!

 

 

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25 comments to 30 day eat-in challenge

  • I think this is a great idea and I wish you good luck. I think I would have an insanely hard time with it. Maybe I could start on a smaller scale. Like 2 weeks. Good luck.
    JM recently posted..Taste Test-McCafe Edition

  • We have had a hard time eating in lately. I am usually the one that is like, let’s go out to eat because I don’t feel like cooking! I am lazy. Lately I have been very good about planning out our meals for the week before I go grocery shopping so that we have no excuse but to eat at home. I am all about easy recipes. I will have to look and and see what type of recipes I have. Do you like Mexican? I have a very easy and pretty low-fat recipe for chicken taquitos. Super quick to make and yummy!

    I am going to start doing Herbalife shakes on Monday so my whole eating schedule is going to be turned upside down! Yikes!
    Jayme (Random Blogette) recently posted..I’m A Celebrity! Ok, Maybe I Just Look Like One..

  • We don’t usually go out, but we do A LOT of takeout, which is awful. With school and work, we are so pressed for time that when we get 30-50 min of free time, the last thing we want to do is cook and clean up. We buy food, just like you and have it in the fridge, but end up ordering out…:(I’ve mastered 5-10 really quick recipes that could be made in under 30 minutes, but takeout is so much faster. We need to start a challenge like yours, to keep ourselves in check.
    Irina recently posted..Month #5 in Pictures, or Sammy Wants a Job.

  • I feel ya, sistah! I’d rather eat out than buy new clothes…isn’t that crazy? I agree – it’s the social aspect and the clean-up avoidance. But, you can do this! We live off of one income, so have no choice. I’ve learned it also makes going out that much more special…plus, it’s easier to feed a baby at home. Best of luck!
    Mrs. Weber recently posted..Letter To My Daughter: The First Five Months

  • Good luck! Having kids accomplished this for us years ago… although I always wanted to blog about the time I took the 3 of them to Sonic by myself. I took pictures and everything. Never wrote it though.
    Ali recently posted..WTF Wednesday – The "Flea" Edition

  • KLZ
    Twitter:

    You and me, hand in hand, stuck in our kitchens. I have a feeling we will be much richer at the end of July.
    KLZ recently posted..Whoop, There It Goes

  • Stephanie
    Twitter:

    Good luck :)

    And I don’t have specific recipes to point you to but I do have favourite websites! Lots of them :)

    Try http://thepioneerwoman.com/ Also linked off this site, Tasty Kitchen
    http://smittenkitchen.com/
    http://www.krystaslifeinfood.com/
    http://www.howsweeteats.com/

    And I am stopping now before I go out of control :)
    Stephanie recently posted..The cost of belonging

  • We did this for the entire month of April (also 30 days) and succeeded! It’s really not that bad – and once you do it for 30 days, then you find it COMPLETELY ridiculous of how often and how much you spent on eating out. Since April, we typically only eat out a couple of times per month now. Our ‘eating out’ budget is $100 per month and we usually have lots left over (like, over half). Also, once you get into the habit of cooking, it’s not so bad! We did increase our grocery budget a tad so I could cook a larger variety of items! But, we don’t even typically spend all of that, either! I have faith in you! :)
    Rachel Gray recently posted..A Day in the Life

  • Good luck! I have fallen into that routine as well and I’m trying to break the habit :) It’s so much easier to go out to eat than it is to cook. But I’ve realized if I challenge myself to try new recipes I enjoy it more than cooking the same old stuff I’ve been making since we got married lol!
    Jessica @ Domesticated-Bliss recently posted..Operation Workin’ on my Fitness

  • Our big money saving plan in terms of eating out, was having a baby. We leveraged Sammy into getting my MIL to come make us food all the time. We didn’t eat non-homemade food for a whole month.

    Disclaimer: This strategy is not recommended for those seeking to save money long term.
    Bill recently posted..The Frogs Own It

  • “Hi, my name is Angie and I addicted to eating out too.”
    My husband and I were just talking about this, I think I may have to impose this challenge too. We eat take out way too much. Or we decided we want something special and end up shopping for special items instead of just using what we have on hand.
    I found the website http://www.supercook.com is helpful for making things with what you have on hand.You plug in whats in your pantry and they list options. Maybe we can all swap some good recipes too.
    Angie@MamaInsomnia recently posted..Womb with a view

  • Judy

    Does that mean if we come to visit in July we will be eating in too? Just wondering…that wasn’t one of the rules.

  • That’s fabulous! I’m so looking forward to your updates!

    We went out last night to eat pretty much the same type of food we would have eaten at home. But it was more of a “gee, I really want to get out tonight” sort of thing on DH’s part than anything else. That’s a slippery slope.
    Mrs. Jen B recently posted..Crossroads and Gaudy Christmas Sweaters

  • Hannah
    Twitter:

    We eat out ALL the time! It’s ridiculous. I’ve even gone online and tracked down some of the actual recipes to our favorite meals. Yeah, they always taste good, but just not AS good as when we eat them in the restaurant. We’re working on eating in more often and we’re slowly making some progress. It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses for us and you guys!

  • Mrs. MidAtlantic
    Twitter:

    I have been doing much better about cooking our dinners since we started meal planning once a week. Oh, how I loathe the term “Meal Planning,” but it really has helped. I make a list of what we’ll eat on which days on a sheet of paper, then add my grocery list on the other. There’s probably an app for that, but I’m all old-fashioned and stuff.
    Mrs. MidAtlantic recently posted..Bon Appetit!

  • I never cook. I’m not very good at it and I’m exhausted when I get home so the thought of making dinner is not very appealing. Especially now that I’m eating Jenny Craig…to go through the hassle of cooking just for J is not worth it. So we take food in almost every night.

    I would really like to eat less take out and save restaurant meals for actually going out. And sometimes, like you, I buy a ton of groceries and then we still go out and get the same thing I could have cooked.

    I’ll be watching closely to see how you do for the month and then I might try it as well.

    A tip that my cousin gave me was to cook a bunch of things on the weekends and then freeze them and reheat during the week. She said it was what finally broke her of her eating out habit. And she lost 10 pounds!
    Shana recently posted..Can you back that up???

  • I have 4 weeks worth of meal plans and grocery lists already made. I try to not to repeat protein (although we do usually have chicken twice a week). So the Friday before, I look at our calendar to see if I work at night or if we have plans to eat out or at friends and then adjust the plan accordingly. This has saved us a TON of money, time and thinking. I just print, check what we have at the house and go to the store. It’s AMAZING!!! And we really eat out less because we only eat out if we have a social engagement. Good luck!

  • good luck!!! we have an eating out budget and we pretty much go over it all the time, so i’m no help. i’m pretty sure there is nothing more amazing on earth than sonic’s cheesy tots!! nom nom nom.
    tara recently posted..blog crush v2.0

  • We don’t eat out a lot anymore, but I understand why people do. It’s just so NICE not to have to clean up. Esp when you spend all day cleaning up after a baby. But for us, we found it was a) cheaper to buy ingredients and make food and b) because we’re both watching our weight, it helps to know what’s going in to your food.

    If you google Secret Restaurant Recipes you’ll get some good sites. There’s a great one for my favorite Applebees salad, but honestly it took almost an hour to make. It’s just easier to get it there.
    StephanieinSuburbia recently posted..Getting My Way

  • There were many years where my family ate dinner out up to four nights a week (Friday and Sat were a given; Sunday frequent; and then sometimes even a fourth night during the week…)

    We loved it. All of us.

    But besides the cost, it wasn’t healthy.

    I know you didn’t mention health as an issue, but a major factor for us deciding to cook more at home was the ridiculous high-fat/high calorie food we were paying a lot of money for.

    It was hard at first.

    But now? We really only go out MAYBE twice a month. This doesn’t include ordering pizza which we still do three or four times a month.

    But the rest of the time, it’s dinner cooked at home. (we never went out for breakfast or lunch so that wasn’t an issue.)

    I will support you, mama. FOR SURE!

    Good luck! You can do it!
    julie gardner recently posted..Today call me changed.

  • Um… I love tater tots from Sonic. Now I kinda want some. Ok that was a lie, I don’t kinda want some… I WANT THEM. haha! The only way I actually save money is by going to the grocery store and getting the food for the entire week.

  • Good luck at this.

    We are terrible at eating at home too. I keep trying to change it but not working so far.
    Jessica recently posted..VlogTalk Prompts

  • Good luck! I have a really hard time with that too, mostly because the husband and I both work, on average, at least 50 hours/week. One of the biggest things I’ve found to help is e-mealz. It’s foolproof! They give you a shopping list *and* easy recipes! Good luck, maybe you can inspire me to be less lazy ;)
    Lisa recently posted..Ten on Tuesday!

  • Andrea
    Twitter:

    I’m hoping you inspire me with this one. But for me, eating out is about the convenience.

    If you can do it, I can too. Come on! Go, Amanda, Go!
    Andrea recently posted..Eventually

  • Oh gosh, we need to do this in our house. We spend way too much money (and calories) eating out. Good luck on your challenge!
    Erica@PLRH recently posted..Oath Ceremony

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