We had to get pretty creative at times :
- Pack a lunch - save time and money! If we had to go to Regina to run errands all day, instead of having lunch when we got there we packed a lunch and ate it on the drive there. We made it back home in time for dinner where our BBQ patiently awaited. Normally, we'd leave home around 11am and come back around 6 or 7pm. This time around, we left home at 12noon and we were back here by 5h30pm but we somehow accomplished more while we were there.
- Make plans that work. We would plan our entire day around having to be home for mealtimes and quite frankly, our days turned out way more productive and fun. We had more of a schedule than we normally do and it forced up to get up earlier and to limit our errand trips. We saved a ton on gas and on random spending money or impulse buys.
- Friends don't let friends eat out. Our friends were well aware of our challenge and quite understanding. They didn't ask us to meet them for dinner somewhere, they didn't tempt us with some take-out while we were at their house and they encouraged us to stick to it! I think it's important, when you attempt something like this to let your friends know so they don't lead you to your demise. We'd eat home and then meet them later for drinks or simply bring something we made at home as our contribution to the take-out food.
- Free food is good food. Let's face it now, this whole challenge had some health benefits but the main thing was financial. Free donuts at a little work party - BRING IT! We satisfied our cravings with food we got for free. We didn't crash any wedding buffets or anything but it made us enjoy the free-ness even more. Not only was it free but it was also a thousand times more delicious to us than it really was!
...but we managed to learn a couple lessons along the way :
- Eating out costs a shwack load of money!!
Well, I think we already knew that but we never really stopped to figure out exactly how much money it cost! ...and it's not always worth it. I haven't received any income or compensation (arg! but that's for another post) over the last month and a bit yet we were still able to save up as we normally do and haven't dug into our savings nearly as much as we anticipated. We're counting on some sick leave benefits to come in soon so it'll put our savings account right back on track for wedding expenses.
- Eating at home is just as fun!
We realized that eating out had become a hobby for us. Therefore, it's not a necessity - we have a ton more hobbies to choose from to occupy our Saturday nights. Yes, it might be a bit lame to play Scrabble but have you met us!? We thrive on lame. It's also inspired me to try new recipes and stock up on frozen-left-overs. So in the long run our efforts will keep saving us even more money - who doesn't like that?!
- Doing something together!
Yes, it was fun cooking together more and spending more time at home together. Most fun though was actually doing a challenge together. Working at something, putting our heads together to come up with solutions or ideas and accomplishing something together. Hurray!!
- Good health starts at home.
It's insane how large restaurant portions are and I don't think we notice exactly how that affects our food intake in a week. I feel super healthy and I have much better portion-control-skills now than I've ever had my entire life. Eating only at home helped me kick the habit of stuffing my face until I explode. We also normally buy the "light" version of things when available and not disgusting (aka PC Blue Menu Butter Chicken Sauce *vom*) so we cut back on lots of calories, sugar, fat and a ton of that kind of stuff.
Moving forward, we've decided to limit our restaurant outings to twice a month. Once from the 1st to the 15th and then one more time from the 15th until the end of the month. We definitely will be doing the no-eating-out dealio again - it won't have as much of a huge impact but maybe we can cut back on coffee purchases or something like that again next time.
I definitely recommend giving this a try to anyone who's trying to save a bit of money, anyone who wants to get some good eating habits back on track or anyone who simply wonders if they could do it.