From meals out with friends, romantic dinners for two, and family birthdays with the kids, breaking bread with company is fun, sociable, and a civilized way to spend your time! So, why would we want to stop eating out? This guide will break down the main problems with dining in restaurants, and how to stop eating out so much or altogether.
Why you should stop eating out
Whether grabbing takeout on your way home or paying for a meal at a five-star eatery, the following points could persuade you to cook at home instead.
You’ll save money when you stop eating out
The average American household spends a whopping $2,375 on pre-prepped food, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.
That’s $198 each month on restaurant dining and takeout purchases. So, you’ll save hundreds when you choose to dine at home instead!
Remember: some of your savings from eating out will need to go toward your new monthly grocery budget. But you’ll still save a ton of money!
Eating at home is healthier
Restaurant food sure does taste good, but unfortunately that’s often because it’s laden with fat and calories!
Think about it: when you shop to cook for yourself, you’ll probably choose a nice lean cut of meat. But when you’re in a restaurant, you don’t have any control over the fat content that goes into your meal.
It probably tastes sumptuous and rich—but it’s also been cooked in oils and butter, upping the trans fat content to dangerously unhealthy levels.
You’ll know exactly what you’re eating
Around 32 million Americans have a food allergy, and 200,000 people receive medical treatment for one each year.
Less serious allergies may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, while the most severe forms can result in anaphylaxis, where the body goes into shock.
Even though restaurants have the best of intentions, it can be challenging to fully cater to customers’ individual allergies.
If you need to pay special attention to the ingredients used in your meal, there’s no doubt that home-prepped food is safer than trusting your health to a busy chef cooking for a packed-out restaurant.
The same goes for counting calories, choosing organic produce, and following a vegan or vegetarian diet. You’ll never truly know what you’re noshing unless you stop eating out and prepare your meals yourself!
You have better control of hygiene
There are approximately 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses each year in the US, affecting one in six Americans. There are frequent norovirus outbreaks in restaurants where large numbers of people come together to eat.
Not to mention the heightened risk of contracting Covid-19 when other people prepare and serve your food.
All these risks can be mitigated by eating at home where you can stay on top of hygiene!
You’ll win back time
Busyness is the status quo for many of us, but it can have a detrimental effect on our quality of life. Some 33% of Americans live with extreme stress and 75% of parents find themselves too busy to read to their children at bedtime.
Eating out may seem like the answer to a stressful lifestyle, but if you’re already short on time, the opposite is true. Consider how many hours pass by every time you eat out at your favorite restaurant.
First, there’s the time you spend getting ready and, of course, your travel time. Then, there’s waiting for a table, the pause between courses, and asking for the check. It can be a pretty lengthy affair!
Stop eating out and you’ll win back valuable hours to spend at home!
How to stop eating out with these 7 key tips
Any strategies on how to stop eating out shouldn’t just involve quitting. Instead, you need workable tips to prepare delicious and nutritious meals at home, without spending too much effort or money.
1. Meal prep
Planning your meals ahead is the perfect thing to do when it comes to eating at home. Know exactly which meals you’re going to eat for the week ahead.
That might mean reading your recipe books, writing grocery lists, and batch-cooking meals to freeze.
2. Bring your own food with you
Deciding how to stop eating out is fairly simple when you’re able to eat at home. But what about when you’re actually out and about?
If you normally grab fast food when you’re out with the family on a weekend, or perhaps pick up a breakfast bagel on the way to the office, you’ll need a workaround for these occasions.
The solution? Bring your food with you, of course. Make your favorite sarnie or pour homemade soup into a flask and you’re good to go!
3. Avoid social situations that revolve around food
If you find yourself only meeting friends for food, it’s time to mix up your social life. Instead of spending $50 every time you want to catch up with an acquaintance, find a mutual hobby at a fraction of the cost. Could you take a walk in the park together, or maybe visit a museum?
But if you do want to break bread with your nearest and dearest, how about meeting for a picnic or inviting them round for hot chocolate and to toast marshmallows?
4. Cook at home more often
If you’ve never really embraced cooking at home, now’s the time to unleash your inner Gordon Ramsay.
To truly fall in love with cooking, start by making dinners that excite you the most. Whether that be spaghetti bolognese, quesadillas, or a Vietnamese curry, stick to your faves.
As you become accustomed to the ritual of cooking, let yourself explore some different flavors and cuisines.
5. Learn some quick meals
Always have some quick lunches up your sleeve or meal ideas for those evenings when you’re exhausted from work and it would be oh-so-easy to order food in.
If you know that’s a weakness for you, plan exactly what you can rustle up in 15-20 minutes. Stir frys, omelettes, wraps, and pasta dishes are all solid options!
6. Find alternative activities
Once you’ve conquered how to stop eating out, you’ll have bags more time and money. But are you missing the event of dining out?
If so, the best way to stay on track is to fill your life with new activities. That way you won’t be focused on “missing” eating out but will zone in on new opportunities.
Whether you try a new exercise class, learn a new language or become a dab hand with a knitting needle, there are plenty of options!
7. Join a no eating out challenge
A no eating out challenge is the perfect motivation boost and a way to find not one, not two, but a whole team of accountability buddies for your goal.
Your options are to join an existing no eating out challenge — check Facebook for regular challenges, or set up your own!
Perhaps you could encourage your family, or workmates to join you. Set up a WhatsApp group or Slack channel to allow everyone to discuss their progress.
How to find the motivation to stop eating out
Now you’re aware of the steps to take to quit eating, let's delve into how to find that inner drive to stay motivated!
How to stop eating out begins with setting a goal
If you’re really stuck on how to stop eating out, your first job is to set yourself a goal. For example, you might choose to quit restaurants, fast food, and takeout for a whole month. Or, perhaps you’ll switch from eating out four times a week to just once.
Whatever your goal, write it down and make it real. Then map out the steps you’ll take to reach your goal, such as planning the quick and nutritious meals you’ll prep for yourself at home instead.
Find an accountability partner
An accountability partner is someone who’ll spur you on to meet your goal. Ideally, they’ll also want to stop eating out, so you’ll both share tips and tricks to stay on track.
The chances are you’ll find it easier to reach your goal when you’re in it with someone else. That’s certainly the case with exercise buddies.
A Michigan State University study found that fitness enthusiasts were more likely to work out for longer when exercising with a more athletic partner.
And the same logic applies to choosing a friend to complete a no eating out challenge with. Make sure they’re just as committed as you are to not spending!
Track your progress as you learn how to stop eating out
One of the easiest ways to stay on the path to success is to keep track of your journey. You might use a calendar to highlight how long you’ve stopped eating out.
Another idea is to regularly count the money you’re saving from cooking at home instead of paying a restaurant owner!
Decide what to do with the money you'll save
It won’t take long for your cash savings to mount up, so long as you stay committed to your goal. Make an exciting plan for your finances and it’ll be even easier to achieve.
If you manage to quit eating out for a whole six months, maybe you’ll have enough money to go on vacation!
Now you know exactly how to stop eating out!
There’s only one thing left to do. It’s time to go cold turkey and finally quit the diners and donut stalls. Even if it's just for a while!