We save money on eating out simply by not eating out much. Boring, right?? To some, maybe. But we have fun with food in other ways, which gives us treats while saving a lot of money! Here are some fun ideas I wanted to share with you today!
A few weeks ago, I shared about how our family avoids eating out. We do this to save money, to avoid the hassle of taking a bunch of little kids into a restaurant (oy!!), and to keep ourselves from feeling crummy.
As I’m writing this post, I’m currently sitting just outside of Panera sipping something delicious, for which I paid $4.00. Earlier today, I ate a burger and fries at Culver’s. What do I have to say for myself?? :)
I have to say that I’m not against eating out at all! We just don’t do it very often, and when we do, it’s a big treat! Today – the day I’m writing this post – I am taking a day off, which I do about once every month if I can. I leave the kids behind with Daddy and big brothers and any other helpers we wrangle, and I go out of town to do a big grocery shopping and work day. These days are INCREDIBLE for my mental health as we care for so many high-need children in our home right now.
My day off always includes at least one meal out and usually a coffee treat. It’s a hot one today, so I am really enjoying my Charged Lemonade from Panera (while I write about avoiding Panera, hahaha). Anyway…
Why don’t we eat out much?
We’re the geeky people who can’t handle ordering an $8 plate of pancakes and eggs for breakfast at a restaurant because we are silently (ok, verbally) calculating the $0.90 we would have spent on that same plate of food had we made it at home.
Truly, we are a barrel of fun at a restaurant. :/
Awwww. Here we are back when we only had four kids.
This was our traditional back-to-school restaurant meal.
See? We are so much fun. Sometimes.
Today I will share some ways we eat fun food at home while saving a lot of money on restaurant prices!
How to Save Money on Eating Out
The short answer is this: We make restaurant-type food at home when we need a fast meal or when we want/need a night off from cooking or dishes.
Here’s a price breakdown to show you how much money we save when we buy convenience foods at the store compared to buying them made for us at a restaurant. (Obviously, you’ll save even more if you make these foods from scratch!)
Chicken Nuggets and Fries
I buy big bags of nuggets and fries at Costco. We cook them in our air fryer, slice some apples, and this makes a delicious fast food meal for $10.16 – total! For ten people (four adults, three kids, and three toddlers). This is huge savings and super fun for our family! We had a movie night on this particular “French Fry Friday.”
Burgers and Fries
Burgers cost a bit more to make, but even with high quality, pre-made patties that I pick up at Sam’s or Costco, our family can have a burger and fry night for a total of $15.34.
How much would burgers and fries cost our family at a restaurant? Our littlest kids would eat from our meals, so we’d probably buy four adult meals, and three kid meals. This would cost $47.03 at McDonand’s. And we’d have spilled ketchup everywhere. We’d rather spill our ketchup at home. ;)
Note: We do grab fast food while traveling sometimes! Usually we pick up a few boxes of 20-piece nuggets and a couple large fries for everyone to share. It’s a fun, crazy picnic!
The best I can find for a take-out pizza right now is $10.99 for a one-topping.
Meanwhile, I can make a loaded pizza at home for $5.75. Or I can make frozen pizzas from Costco for $3.42 each. We need three large pizzas for our family, so we can either spend $33 total for take-out or $10.26 total for frozen. Take-out is fun, but so is frozen pizza! The kids love pizza nights!
I don’t buy these very much, but when I do, we all love this!
I buy a bag of frozen chicken patties at our local grocery store – $4.48 for a bag of ten patties plus a package of buns for $1.29. This makes each sandwich cost $0.58. Currently, McChickens are $1.79. :)
You know me, I always grab a hotdog while I’m shopping at Costco.
The dog/drink deal there is $1.50 which is awesome and it helps me survive my huge shopping trip, ha! If we ever took the family there (maybe someday when the littles are old enough to help!), I think this will be a perfect “meal out” to treat everyone to the hotdog and drink for just a buck fifty each!
Meanwhile, at home I make the awesome beef hotdogs from Sam’s, which cost $0.56 each.
We don’t give our little ones much sugar yet, but not to worry, our big kids make up for it. And at the end of a long day after all the littles are finally tucked in, Matt and I sometimes have an ice cream date on the couch. :)
We’ve been getting the 48-ounce Wal-mart brand cartons, which is a Bryer’s knock off. These are made with slightly better ingredients than some brands, and they only cost $2.24/carton! What a fun date for just a few cents!
Those are some of our treats at home. What ways do you have treats at home to save money?