In a previous post I wrote about how a clean kitchen helps to lower the food bill. “The kitchen is dirty” is an excuse to eat out so you don’t have to deal with cleaning up the mess. And then the kitchen still stays dirty and you’re wondering why your spending is getting out of control, especially if you’re using credit cards to pay for your meals out. Now’s the time to quit eating your way into debt!
Never buy food on credit
Years ago when I started driving, my father gave me his Shell gas card to fuel up his car. You know back in the olden days when gas was still under $1/gallon! I fueled the car up and went inside the store to pay for it. Apparently, I also had the munchies because I bought a box of potato chips for .69¢, and I’ll never forget that price. My father was ticked off when I came home because I’d put food on the credit card. He told me never buy food on credit.
That bit of advice has stayed with me all my life. At the grocery store or eating out at a restaurant, I always pay with cash. The exception might be when I’m traveling and it’s easier to use a credit card and hold on to my foreign currency for times when I’m in a cash only situation.
I’ve never eaten my way into debt, but I know too many people who whip out the credit card to pay for meals and groceries and are unable to fully pay the bill when it arrives in the mail. Quit eating your way into debt! I don’t care how many points or air miles you get with that card. Don’t put food on your charge card.
Besides not wanting to clean a dirty kitchen, what are some other excuses for justifying eating out?
- Too tired.
- Too busy.
- Too lazy.
- Don’t feel like it.
- I don’t know how to cook.
- In a rush.
- It’s easier to eat out.
- It’s become a habit.
- The kitchen’s a mess.
Clean up time
Let’s start with the last one – the kitchen’s a mess. Read my article about how a clean kitchen lowers the food bill. The only time “the kitchen’s a mess” is a legitimate excuse is when there are renovations going on in there. Otherwise use the 15-minute timer method (Thanks Flylady!) and start cleaning it up. Worse case scenario, hire a cleaning service to do it for you. After you spend $80 to have someone else clean your kitchen (that week’s grocery bill), not to mention the embarrassment of having someone else see your dirty kitchen, that’s motivation to keep it clean.
We all get tired. That’s a legitimate excuse for the occasional meal out, but if you find yourself constantly tired, evaluate why that’s happening. Open a can of soup and a box of crackers on those “too tired” nights, or keep store-bought pizzas in the freezer.
Likewise, we’re all busy or we just don’t feel like doing something. I’m too busy to walk my dog, take care of my garden, and I don’t feel like washing my car. But these things all need to be done. I push myself to do it so I don’t have to pay someone else to do it. That’s my motivation. Why pay someone else to do something I’m capable of doing.
In a rush? Keep frozen foods in the freezer and bagged salad in the fridge. A peanut butter sandwich can be slapped together in a minute.
Here are a few easy recipes I’ve shared that can be frozen. Freezer bags to the rescue!
Don’t know how to cook? That’s no excuse in this day and age of the Internet. You can find easy recipes with a little search. Try my Super Easy Vegetarian Pie. If you go to The Kitchn there are lots of recipes and even cooking classes – all free!
Start out with simple foods, like putting bread in the toaster, boiling water to make Jell-O, or using the microwave to heat up a frozen dinner. Then build yourself up to preparing cake from a mix, or opening a bag of frozen French fries and putting them in the oven.
It’s easier to eat out.
Easier in what way?
You have to decide where to eat, get in the car and drive there, and make a selection off the menu. And then your wallet takes a hit. Who says you have to take the easy way out anyway?
Eating out has become a bad habit, probably for both your waistline and your wallet. Like many other bad habits, it’s hard to quit. Compare yourself to an addict who wants liquor, cigarettes, drugs, or to gamble. Eating out is no less an addiction and no less dangerous for your health and finances.
Is there much difference between these destructive behaviors?
Get on track
Write down everything you eat out for a week, maybe a month.
I use this free spreadsheet on Boomer & Echo’s site that is for budgeting, but I generally use it to track my spending.
You might be more comfortable using an app or writing in a notebook.
That fancy coffee and muffin on the drive to work, the quick lunch at the sandwich shop, and stopping for fast food on the way home. If it goes in your mouth, and you didn’t fix it at home, write it down.
Total it up.
Are you shocked at the amount?
Which is more painful? Cooking or paying your bills?
If you’re having a difficult time paying down your debt, and part of the problem is eating out, do a search online for free debt or credit counseling. There are non-profits out there who can help.
Let’s work on keeping any type of food purchase off the credit cards. Once the food is eaten, it’s gone forever, but the credit card debt remains.
No more excuses. Quit eating your way into debt.