Reduce eat-out by making eat-at-home more fun

For a while, Mr. Frugal and Ms. Happy get into a habit of eating out every weekend. We are both beer lovers, and it is tempting to go to different breweries and try out new beers on the tap. Also, it is more or less a social norm to meet friends at restaurants. However, when we add up the money we spent on eat-out, we are surprised about the number. What’s worse, you don’t feel anything when it becomes a habit. Research shows it takes roughly 66 days to build a habit and after that it becomes a routine.

From last year, we started to change this habit by reducing eat-out during the weekend. It was quite challenging at first, and I have to say I still miss to go to a brewery and have a glass of beer after a long bike ride. However, if you make some smart design of your new habit, it will make the change much easier. Here are what we did:

Change 1: Buy more candles to make the home setting more romantic

Our romantic dinner setting

We learnt this trick from Mr. Money Mustache. When he and his wife decided to reduce eat-out, he bought a lot of candles for weekend dinners. Compared to the money you poured to the restaurants, the cost of the candles is almost negletable. Especially, if you are determined to do this for a long time, you can buy a lot of candles with even lower price.

Change 2: Invite friends to our dinner party

Before we¬†consciously made this decision, we always say “yes” to friends’ request to eat out. We did think about how to deal with friends’ request because we do not want to sacrifice friendship for frugality (remember our goal is to be frugal and happy!). Here are our two solutions:

  • We invite them to our dinner party. We host monthly dinner party for a few years now, and we think it’s a good idea to combine eat-out with the dinner party. Usually friends bring wine to our party and we prepare food. In this way, we don’t need to buy alcohol, which saves a big budget. Also, it is much cheaper to buy raw materials from the supermarket to cook for a batch of people, thus it is a win-win solution. I will post another article in the future about all the creative ideas for parties at home, but the point is if you try to be creative, party at home is much more fun than eating out.
  • Mr. Frugal’s company has a kitchen/club that we can get free dinner with very limited membership fee, and we can invite 2 guests. Thus, we also take advantage of this to save some labor work when we are tired of dinner party.

Change 3: We buy craft beers from a local market

A lot of plans fail because we do not give ourselves alternatives. As you can see, I still miss my beer and you probably know how important craft beer plays a role in whether this new change will succeed or not. Remember the “I will do A if B ” strategy”? We found a local market that sells great craft beer. Thus, now when we want beer, we go and get one and the cost is much lower than having one in the brewery. I think it is a pretty powerful mindset: when you want to change a habit, try to find alternatives instead of thinking of it as a sacrifice.




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