Embarrassing though it is to admit, eating out had gotten out of control for my family. Completely. We were spending every spare cent of our already meager budget on eating out. All of our allotted spending money went to the cause, and we would “borrow” from other areas in our budget to support our eating out habit. Eating out is one of those things that I think people tend to underestimate unless they are very intentional about it. We were eating out several times each week. For Lent, I decided to take drastic measures and give up eating out. I didn’t eat out for 6.5 weeks of Lent, and this was just the boost we needed to curb our eating out habits for good. You might wonder why I don’t want to eat out. Here are the biggest reasons:
Eating out is more expensive than cooking at home. An average meal out for our family of 4 costs about $20 (an average of fast food, at least $10/meal and sit-down meals, at least $30/meal). An average meal home for our family of 4 costs less than $5. As I said before, we were overspending. Other areas of our budget were suffering to fund our constant eating out. Just because we liked it, we “deserved” a treat…but the occasional treat became several times a week for us.
Eating at home is healthier than eating out. Even if you eat similar things, meals almost always have more calories at restaurants. At home, you have more control. Eating out increases temptations that I have eliminated at home. Because of this, a meal out for me consists of about 1200-1500 calories (my entire daily allotment!), while an average meal at home is more like 300-400 calories.
I want to be a better mom. Stay with me, here. I’m not saying anyone is a bad mom for eating out several times a week. But for me and my family this went against our family values. Our kids were eating unhealthy foods, which we don’t want. Rather than being the mom I want to be who manages my home well, I was resorting to eating out all the time to avoid the discipline of planning. Rather than spending our money on things for our children, we were wasting money on eating out and that is a hard thing for me to admit or face about myself, but it’s the truth. Finally, I realized that more and more my children were learning that eating out for many meals each week was the “norm.” (after writing this article, I found a great post about creating our children’s “normal”) I wanted eating at home around our kitchen table to be their norm. Not eating fast food.
So, there you have it. Since Easter, Chad and I have eaten out a handful of times for dates, and they took me out to Cracker Barrel for Mother’s Day, using a gift card we already had. Yes, eating out is fun, I get it. But, I have to say that I really like the new norm that we have created where we eat the majority of our meals at home, or take a picnic to the park if we’re out at mealtime.