How To Cut Back on Eating Out, According to Frugal Redditors

Delicious meal


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Delicious meal

Dining In

With the average American family spending just over $3,000 a year on food away from home, it's clear that eating out at restaurants adds up. So if you're strapped for money, it makes sense to dine in— and that's what many are doing as the economy cools. But it's not always easy to change your eating habits, which is why one budget-conscious Redditor took to r/Frugal for advice. How can you cut back on eating out? Some of the subreddit's thriftiest members answered that question and offered a series of money-saving tips.

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Keep Your Kitchen Stocked

Keep your pantry and freezer stocked with bulk ingredients you can use to make easy meals, one Redditor suggests. If you have a bag of frozen meatballs and a jar of pre-made pasta sauce, you can throw together a meal in just 20 minutes. Since that's faster than driving to a restaurant or waiting for take out, you won't be as tempted to eat out. The key, the Redditor adds, is to cook "stupid-easy" meals — meals so easy you could cook them while "drunk" (not recommended). Beyond pasta and meatballs, they recommend cauliflower rice with shredded meat, oven-baked frozen fish with frozen veggies, and quiche.

Related: 55 Big-Batch Meals That Will Last All Week

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Young woman delivering groceries to senior woman

Use Curb-Side Grocery Pickup or Delivery

In the wake of the pandemic, both curb-side pickup and delivery are common options at grocery stores like Target, Walmart, and Sam's Club. Plus, companies like Instacart and Shipt give consumers an even wider selection of stores. While many of these services involve fees and tips, paying a premium on groceries is still cheaper than eating at a restaurant.

Not already a Sam's Club member? You can apply here.

Woman taking container with frozen potato from refrigerator, closeup
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

Make a Meal Plan

Planning and prepping your meals ahead of time will make shopping and cooking a breeze. One Redditor shared that they picked seven meals that they stick to every week so that shopping and cooking become second nature.

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HelloFresh Unboxing

Sign Up for a Meal Kit Delivery Service

While cooking and shopping on your own are far cheaper than services like HelloFresh, delivery meal kits could be a money-saving supplement to your normal at-home dinners. With the most affordable subscriptions charging around $8 a serving, it's still cheaper than eating out at most restaurants. And everything you need is included in the kit for a no-hassle cooking experience. "Keep the instructions for the meals you like and after a bit when cooking is more of a habit, then you can take the next step do shopping and deciding your own menu," one commenter suggests.

Related: 19 Meal Kits and Delivery Services to Get You Out of Your Dinner Rut