No Restaurant Month

By Lindsey Cook
October 29, 2012 • comment(s)
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With the holidays just around the corner, there is a pretty solid chance that both our budgets and our pants might become a slightly tighter. To help save a bit of room and money, here is a novel idea: no restaurant month.

Put simply, you do not eat at a restaurant for an entire month.  Think of the money you could save! It doesn’t have to be a calendar month, start now if you would like. Of course everyone’s definition of a restaurant varies. You can pick and choose what your definition might be. I successfully completed this in February of this year. Do not shame me for picking the shortest month.  My definition of a restaurant was a place where I had to look at a menu to order something, including sit down and drive-through.  I deemed salad bars at Whole Foods and Central Market acceptable, as well as iced teas from Sonic.  

In order to successfully complete this challenge, here are a few tips that I found helped me. 

  • Spend some time stocking up your freezer. On the Sunday before you start “no restaurant month,” make a batch of homemade soup to freeze for lunches during the week.
  • Invest in a crock-pot. These small machines can be found for less than twenty dollars and are cooking magic.  Recipes for crock pot meals are abundant on the internet.  You can start the machine on low when you leave for work, and eight hours later, you have a home cooked meal. And as an added bonus, your house smells amazing when you return.
  • Repurpose your leftovers. If you are making barbeque chicken on Wednesday, add a few more chicken breasts to the grill for chicken salad on Thursday.  Tupperware will become your new best friend.
  • Physically collect the money you have saved, whether it is in a glass jar or simply writing yourself an IOU note.  For me, seeing money add up made not eating at restaurants seem like a piece of (homemade) cake. At the end of the month, you will be shocked at the amount of money you have saved.
  • Organize a weekly potluck with friends.  This is a win-win, you get to try a variety of different foods and you don’t miss out on the social aspect of eating at a restaurant.  
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you cheat. Schedules change. Your boss might ask you and your co-workers to go to lunch. You may have a date.  Sometimes it is impossible to say no to going to a restaurant, so don’t worry if you mess up one day. Just get right back on track the next.

If giving up restaurants cold turkey sounds too daunting, then try limiting the frequency with which you eat out for a month.  Either way, you will definitely be on your way to saving money and calories. 

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Great Suggestions!'s picture

Awesome idea for saving money! I love the potluck idea/people don't seem to do that much anymore. Have you ever heard of a "progressive dinner" a great social also with going to different homes for each course.

Lindsey's picture

That is a really neat idea! I haven't heard of it before. I love potlucks, and luckily my group of friends also enjoy them. We have some great cooks in our group, so the food they bring is always better than restaurants!