This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

Being Prepared = Saving Money

March 2nd, 2010

Mr Chiots and I are savers. We hate to spend money, especially on things that can be avoided, like eating out. Restaurant food is expensive and often unhealthy. It’s much cheaper and healthier to prepare food at home. Once you start eating healthful homemade food, often you find that you don’t really like restaurant food either. That being said, there are times when it can’t be avoided or times when you want to eat out. We do eat out on occasion and try to choose restaurants that serve healthy food. We have a set monthly budget for eating out, and if we do not spend it we transfer it to our vacation fund (which is also a deterrent to eating out, I’d prefer a weekend away to meals out).

The main way we manage save money in this area, is by being prepared. We always carry water with us (in stainless steel water bottles), this helps us avoid the need to buy drinks if we get thirsty (and we can refill at a drinking fountain). We also carry apples with us wherever we go. Apples are the perfect portable snack, they’re filling and you can eat them anywhere. We carry nuts and dried fruit as well and other quick snack foods that are high in protein and nutrition. Often a handful or two of nuts and an apple will keep you full until you can get home to eat a proper meal.

How do you find time to make a snack bag every time you go somewhere? I keep a bag with snacks in it by the back door. We simply grab the bag on our way out. We always carry snacks even if we only plan to be gone for an hour or two. It’s amazing how often you get behind or things don’t go as planned and you end up being out longer than anticipated. If we are planning on being gone during a meal time I will often pack sandwiches and more substantial snacks.

Another way we avoid eating out is by having quick meals at home. I always know that I have a few quick meal options that can be on the table within 15-20 minutes after arriving home. One of our favorite quick meals is homecanned tomato soup. Eggs also make the perfect quick meal, you can prepare them in all kinds of ways that are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I often have soup or lasagna in the freezer and if I plan ahead I can thaw some out to be ready on short order.

Despite our best efforts, we occasionally find ourselves out and about without snacks and starving. What do we do then? Sometimes we just eat out and enjoy it, we have money budgeted for this purpose. Sometimes we buy a small snack and then eat a meal when we get home. Sometimes we go to a grocery store and buy apples, bananas, or nuts for a healthy snack that’s much cheaper than eating out. By doing this we save a lot of money and we eat more healthfully.

What strategies do you have for saving money on eating out?

16 Comments to “Being Prepared = Saving Money”
  1. wic on March 2, 2010 at 5:39 am

    I do the same. We don`t have the money to eat out. At the moment we are happy to make it each month so we not even at least at the moment have the option to just buy things.
    In a way I am happy about it. this way we relearned to think about what we do and what we eat. now we always take apples, crackers and water with us.
    the best part is that the kids love to pack the “Snack-pack” and the love to eat it ( even the things they would not eat at home).
    .-= wic´s last blog ..Challenging myself: Daring Bakers’ February Challenge Tiramisu with homemade Ladyfingers =-.

    Reply to wic's comment

  2. Tammy on March 2, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I’m getting better @ this – it has been a goal in 2010 for our family to only eat out once a month – but my kids are struggling. They aren’t young enough that they can’t work it out (14 & 16), so I’ve left them to pay for their own when they “want” something and that really slows them down. Even when I do pay, I never pay for drinks – soft drinks and tea are so expensive and really not good for us, so if they want drinks – they pay for those as well. For the 3 of us, drinks could be as much as $4.50-$6.00 which to me is silly for something unhealthy. I agree with you about getting used to home cooking really dims the allure of restaraunt food. By allowing us one meal out a month, it forces us to look at do we really want that one meal to be junkfood? Some months, pizza at our favorite pizza place wins, but often it ends up being a “good” meal which we appreciate.

    Reply to Tammy's comment

  3. Rachel on March 2, 2010 at 11:13 am

    we do the same thing, but what I relate to the most is that resturant food does not satisfy. We eat out only on special occasions, generally when someone else is paying and my husband and I find that we are almost always dissapointed. Not in atmosphere or company but with the food. Real food just tastes better!
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..public speaking =-.

    Reply to Rachel's comment

  4. MAYBELLINE on March 2, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Dining at home is tastier plus I enjoy cooking. It really doesn’t save any time to go out for a meal. When we do dine out, it is usually at a friend’s restaraunt. My husband coaches him so it’s a trade out.

    Our one treat is a weekly lunch at a Basque restaraunt. We go there not only for the food but for the socializing.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..72 Seedlings?! =-.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  5. Momzoo on March 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    We do a lot of the same things you do.

    I love that when other kids are being fed chicken nuggets or mac & cheese, mine have homemade tomato soup sprinked with cheese their grandpa makes (raw of coarse). There is such a sense of satisfaciton in it all.
    .-= Momzoo´s last blog ..Chicks, Two Weeks Old =-.

    Reply to Momzoo's comment

  6. Morgan G on March 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    It’s just my husband and I and since the typical recipe provides between 4 and 6 servings, there’s always lots of grub leftover. I embrace left-overs!
    .-= Morgan G´s last blog ..Oscilloscope Laboratories =-.

    Reply to Morgan G's comment

  7. stefaneener on March 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I only eat out at restaurants I love — ones that are so good I couldn’t make it at home as well. This is more money, but more fun, too. It’s just part of the budget.
    Canned tomatoes are a great saver.
    .-= stefaneener´s last blog ..First of March overview =-.

    Reply to stefaneener's comment

  8. Julia on March 2, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    We never eat out for so many reasons: baby, no money, no good restaurants, eat sooo much better at home! So, when we are out, we find that we deserve to treat ourselves!
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Shine On, You Crazy Daffodil =-.

    Reply to Julia's comment

  9. Christine on March 2, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I do enjoy going out to eat every once in a while, but only to certain kinds of restaurants. Homemade sushi isn’t ever quite as good as the restaurant kind (which can offer so many different kinds of fish that we can’t buy in the typical grocery store). It’s also fun to try a new cuisine, like greek or indian. Indian food can be very expensive to cook when starting out, because some of the spices are ten bucks or so for a small jar. I slowly started accumulating them, and now can cook Indian at home.
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Climbing peas =-.

    Reply to Christine's comment

  10. Maggie on March 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Ooh, is your recipe for tomato soup posted here somewhere? I did a quick look and didn’t find it. I would love to try it this summer!
    .-= Maggie´s last blog ..For Readers… =-.

    Reply to Maggie's comment

  11. Garry on March 3, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    We don’t eat out much at all except when travelling. We are getting ready to take a cross-country train trip and although we plan to take quite afew things with us we will buy some meals in the dining car. I hope we can choose some meatless meals since I’ve read enough about how the animals are fed, etc.

    Reply to Garry's comment

  12. Allie on March 3, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    We don’t eat out much. Our local grocery store does a great job with prepared foods and sometimes we’ll indulge. We just keep meals simple in general, so it doesn’t feel like too much effort to cook. And since I work from home, snacking isn’t something that requires too much planning. I love your eating out/vacation fund idea.
    .-= Allie´s last blog ..Don’t Look Back . . . =-.

    Reply to Allie's comment

  13. the inadvertent farmer on March 4, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    We haven’t been out to eat in 2 years…3 years before that. As vegetarians it was hard, as vegan in a small town, not happening.

    Besides I am eternally cheap, I cannot enjoy my food when it is driving me crazy how much it is costing.

    I would rather spend my money on fabric…at least that isn’t fattening, lol!
    .-= the inadvertent farmer´s last blog ..Buying ‘Real Food’ through a Food Co-Op =-.

    Reply to the inadvertent farmer's comment

  14. Lynn on March 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    My Husband and I eat lunch out every 3 months with a group of retired friends from work we’ve named ‘The Lunch Bunch’. What’s special about the rare treat is the wonderful company. The food is just a bonus.

    Reply to Lynn's comment

  15. Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings on March 5, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    This is a fabulous post. I also keep snacks handy, but for another reason since my kids are now older. I have food intolerances to wheat and dairy so I need food with me. I also know quick restaurants which are gluten free.

    I, too, keep frozen meals. We also had a pig raised for us, so we always have meat in the freezer. I will also be a side of beef this fall. I like to know where I get my meat for so many reasons. Great ideas.~~Dee
    .-= Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings´s last blog ..The Dowager Duchess must be freed from the enemy =-.

    Reply to Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:
The Real Food Challenge at Not Dabbling

Over at Not Dabbling in Normal, we're kicking off the Real Food Challenge today. If you've ever seen a Food,...