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Dining out can be a real budget-buster, but one simple rule has helped me cut my food bill significantly over the last year!
Reducing food spending by 15% was one of the five money goals I shared with you in January 2017, but was I able to do it? This is my accountability check.
Here’s a look at the side-by-side charts of my food spending for 2016 and 2017:
- 2016: $3,352
- 2017: $2,900
- Difference: $452
- 2016: $3,062
- 2017: $2,348
- Difference: $714
My total food spending for 2017 came out to $5,248, which is $437 per month. I spent a combined $1,166 less at grocery stores and restaurants this year compared to 2016.
I know these numbers aren’t going to break any records, but they represent a 20% drop — my goal was 15%.
My restaurant rule
Here’s the change I made: At the start of the year, I made a rule with myself that I would avoid buying restaurant food when it wasn’t part of a social experience.
I love going out to eat with family and friends to catch up, so I’ve continued to do that at least once a week.
But what I eliminated is those nights when I would order takeout from a Chinese restaurant or pizza place and sit alone in my condo watching TV. That’s not very social!
As a result, I learned to get better about cooking my own food, primarily on Sundays when I prep for the work week.
Two kitchen gadgets have proved to be worth every penny. My Instant Pot pressure cooker and Crock-Pot slow cooker have made preparing meals at home a lot easier — and tastier!
Since I bought the Instant Pot in May, it hasn’t left my counter. I use it that much.
5 ways Instant Pot makes life easier
Why exactly are people so obsessed with Instant Pot and other pressure cookers like it? I’ve identified a handful of ways it has come in handy:
Saves money: Instant Pot is so easy to use that you won’t need to buy canned or prepared ingredients. One recipe I tried called for dried beans, which are less than half the price of canned beans.
Saves time: Not only is this appliance easy, it’s also fast. Chicken breasts are cooked to perfection in 12 minutes!
Saves energy: Instant Pot is one of the greenest kitchen appliances, according to its website. It saves up to 70% electricity compared to other appliances, like the oven or stove top.
Saves space: The 6-quart pressure cooker can easily fit on the counter of even the smallest kitchen.
Saves dishes: Many Instant Pot recipes utilize several of the features, but you only get one pot dirty. And when you’re finished cooking, the inner pot goes right into the dishwasher.
Something I didn’t expect was that preparing more homemade meals would make me appreciate those nights out with my family and friends even more than I used to — I really look forward to them!
Living by my restaurant rule, eating out is now a special treat and not an everyday indulgence.