How often do you eat out?
After a little online research, I discovered that Americans eat out on average four times a week! Although some of these meals may be lunch (slightly cheaper), it’s still a huge number when we think about how much money is being drained out of our wallets simply by eating out.
My husband and I rarely eat out for lunch, but for the last few years we’ve had regular date nights once a week. Regardless of where we go, we spend anywhere from $20-30 (plus tip!) for just the two of us.
Once a week, spending roughly $25, adds up to $100 a month, and $1200 a year! Now what if we were eating out four times a week? That’s almost $5000 a year – just on eating out! And that doesn’t include all the money you’re spending at the grocery store.
So why do we eat out so often? In a 2006 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it was found that American’s eat out for three primary reasons: variety, convenience, and entertainment.
I’m here today to tell you that if you want variety, convenience and entertainment, you don’t necessarily have to go out (although we will talk about ways to eat out cheaply another day). About a year ago, I instigated “Friday Homemade Pizza Night.” It started out a little slow, but now it has become tradition and is a fun date night together. We stay in, we rent a movie from the Redbox (with a free rental code, of course), I make homemade pizza, and it fulfils all three of those reasons American’s eat out.
1. Variety: Yes, I understand that pizza once a week does not seem like variety, but after catching on to the tradition I’ve picked up a few pizza cookbooks and since then we’ve tried many different kinds of pizza. We have our favorites that we always go back to, but it’s fun to try new things, especially if it’s cheap.
2. Convenience: From the time I start making the pizza dough to the time it comes out of the oven is about 45 minutes. If you go to a restaurant, especially on a Friday night, you’ll be waiting for longer than that. Yes, you might not have to do any cooking or cleaning up, but a 10-15 minute prep time (and 30 mins in the oven) is really pretty hard to beat. (If we really want to talk about convenience, I’ll show you the fastest way to make homemade pizza – 5 minutes! – in another post…but I don’t do that every week).
3. Entertainment: Philip and I often make the pizza together, putting the toppings on as part of our date night. Then once the pizza is cooked, we cuddle up on the couch to enjoy a free movie ($1 at the most!) and dinner simultaneously.
And here’s the best part. I’ve broken down our cost for dinner, dessert and a movie so you can see our savings:
Homemade Crust (4 ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt): $1.00 estimated – possibly cheaper
Sauce (Kroger Brand from Smiths, $1.79/jar, I use about 1/3 of the jar): $0.54
Cheese (I only buy it when the big bricks are on sale, 2/$6, and use about 1/3): $1.50
Meat (pepperoni, Canadian bacon, salami, etc. I use about ½ a pack at $3): $1.50
Veggies (peppers, mushrooms, etc): $2.00 estimated
Vanilla Ice Cream (Kroger brand from Smiths, $2/qt, we use about 1/3): $0.60
Crushed Candy Bar (2/$1.00, we only use one): $0.50
Redbox (usually can find free rental code): $0.00
TOTAL for dinner, dessert, and a movie: $7.64 (and no tip!) for two people!!
Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever eat out, but look at the difference. Think about that next time you don’t feel like cooking…