Money Behaviors: Eating Out

photo 2 There is something both scary and refreshing about accountability, no? Two weeks ago we shared three very personal posts about our budget, including where we ate out and how much we spent, our entire budget, and why we don't use credit cards. While we typically don't have any fear of sharing the truth, it's sometimes easier to hold back on some of the raw details.

Some things seem too personal on the surface. But really, as we try to help others understand the power behind budgeting, the raw details might be just the thing someone needs to understand how to apply budgeting to their life. Not to mention the wise council this community provides in the comments.

So, we're trying harder not to take for granted the details that have either held us back or brought us success over the past few years when it comes to budgeting.

There was so much great discussion in the comments of those posts linked above, it was confirmation for us that it's the type of conversation this community wants to read and talk about.

Now that we're halfway through September, I thought I would shift the conversation to give a look ahead at what we're working on this month. Hopefully it will provide some context for when we post how we did at the end of the month.

Eating Out

While we are still OK with the amount of money in our food budget ($600/month for eating out and groceries), we are feeling the effects of an eating-out hangover from August. There are a multitude of factors that have lead us to wanting to eat out a little less in September.

  1. Rooney loves to run: She gets restless waiting for food, and after about 30 minutes of being super patient and a really good girl sitting in her high chair or booster seat, she decides enough is enough and wants to get out and run around the restaurant. Which makes it tough for us to enjoy the meal together and have good conversation.
  2. Health reasons: While we still feel comfortable eating healthy for two-thirds of our meals, it would be nice to increase that percentage with a few great healthy meals at home per week. I'm sure it would save us money, too. If you have any healthy, easy, quick-to-prepare recipes you'd like to share, we'd love to see them!
  3. Sustainability: I'm sure as Rooney gets older and our family expands, we won't be able to make our budget go as far as it does now.
  4. Challenge: We seem to do well when we challenge ourselves. By sharing our eating excursions with y'all has made us think twice before eating out this month. Knowing we're going to post an update at the end of the month has been in the back of our minds (but we've still gone out to eat eight times so far in September, which is only one less time than at this point in August).

What's Holding Us Back

These items don't necessarily mean we feel bad about how we spend our food money, but they are behavioral factors that we'll need to overcome if we really want to eat out less.

  1. Time is more valuable than money: We get home around 4:45 pm from work during the week, which leaves us two hours and 15 minutes of family time before Rooney goes to bed (7:00 pm). When we do cook, it's usually as a team, and lately it's been a disaster. We're definitely not focused on Rooney and she's been in a phase where she wants to be held to see what we are doing at all times in the kitchen. Kelsey and I ended up frustrated, not making a very good meal and are left with a big mess to clean up after supper. For us, it just seems a better use of our time to go somewhere to eat where we can enjoy each other's company a bit more.
  2. Willpower: After a long day at work, neither of us has very much willpower to tackle a new recipe or spend time in the kitchen preparing and cleaning up afterward. And at that point of the day, sitting on the floor playing, reading books or chasing Rooney around the house seems more enjoyable.
  3. Not being frugal: Neither of us are very frugal when it comes to the Food category. We don't go to really expensive restaurants, but we don't eat fast food either. We try to keep it in the middle (fast casual). Since we've both agreed on our food budget for the month, as long as we stick to it, both of us are happy.

To be honest, I'm OK with eating out at this stage in life. I know we need to work on eating at home more, but for the immediate future, I'm OK with the rhythm we have as a family. As Rooney gets older, I'd like to find some go-to healthy meal options that we can master in the kitchen. But, I think I'll take it slow for now. Maybe one new recipe a month.

The comments on the eating out post really got us thinking, though, which is such a blessing. Outside perspective is always good when you are trying to figure something out.

What budget category is tripping you up these days?