Saving Money on Food Away From Home


Let’s face it… it’s hard to prepare every meal at home, especially when your “to do” list just keeps getting longer. Perhaps your time was crunched this week and you didn’t make it to the grocery store. Maybe you wanted to prepare a nice meal at home, but after a busy day you were just too tired or didn’t have time to cook.

Take-out and ready-made foods are a simple choice when you are in a hurry because they are … fast and easy. At times, ready-to-eat food items can seem like the perfect solution to a busy day. Sadly, this type of food is often priced higher than food prepared at home. The extra cost of eating away from home can strain your budget, and make it harder to put money towards other household expenses.

Think about how often you eat at a restaurant or stop to buy food away from home. To be clear, the term “food away from home” refers to any food purchased or prepared outside the home. This includes meals eaten at a restaurant, fresh prepared food purchased at a grocery store, and beverages and snacks that are ready-to-eat with no preparation needed. Purchasing these food items a few times a week can really add up. For example, if you purchase a fruit smoothie for $3.50 at a local store twice a week, you will spend $28 a month just on fruit smoothies!

Taking the steps to plan and budget for food away from home can help you manage your money. Decide how much you will spend on food away from home each week and include this amount in your budget. Preparing food at home for most of your meals can help you save money.  

If you decide to purchase food away from home here are some tips to help you get the most for your money:
  • Take advantage of coupons or specials you find in the newspaper or online
  • Buy the regular-sized (not super-sized) portions.
  • Order a kid’s meal for yourself (smaller portions, smaller price)
  • Buy carry-out for only the main dish of a meal. Prepare the rest of the meal (ex. salad and vegetables) at home
  • Share an order with a friend or family member
  • Instead of ordering a meal for a child, share yours with them
  • When eating at a restaurant, divide your meal into two parts and take half of it home for a meal the next day. Two meals in one! Restaurant portions are usually very large, so saving half of your meal for later can not only save money, but calories too!
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