How to Eat Out Without Leaving Home

May 18, 2009 · Posted in Personal Finance 

One of the big budget killers is the almost undeniable urge to eat at a restaurant rather than at home. It’s something that everyone just HAS to do once in awhile, which is fine if you can afford it. The problem comes in when you and your family dine out knowing that you cannot afford to do it. There is a compromise that can keep you from spending needed money, yet enjoy the “feeling” of dining out.

A lot of people like dining out due to the change of scenery, as well as being able to relax and let someone else do the cooking, serving and cleaning up. While you may still need to cook, serve and clean, you can still have the atmosphere of dining out and never have to leave your home. Plan one night each week for a “theme” meal. Take turns among the family members in choosing what the theme will be for the week. Make the menu planning a family affair, as well. Incorporate the food items needed into the weekly grocery shopping trip.

On the evening of the special meal, do some simple things to set the scene. For example, if pizza or spaghetti was chosen, use an inexpensive red and white checkered table cloth for the table, and either light a couple of candles or use small battery operated lanterns. If you have some music that is fitting for this Italian meal, play it on low in the background. Just like that, you will have the appearance of a small, cozy Italian restaurant. For extra fun, serve grape juice from a wine bottle. You will have the feeling of dining out without spending a lot of money.

This can be done with any type of food just by adjusting the setting. To make it fair, encourage the rest of the family to help with the cooking and cleaning up afterwards. As for serving, everyone can simply fill their own plates. When done this way, all the work is not put on one person and it is fun for everyone. Before long, this can become something that the entire family will look forward to even more than going out to a restaurant to eat an expensive meal.

If you want to make it even more of a money saving venture, calculate how much this meal would have cost you in a restaurant. Then subtract from that the amount spent on the special at home dinner. Take that amount and stash it in a safe place to start a fund for something special. You will be amazed at how quickly it will add up.


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