How to Stop Eating Out (11 Pro Tips that Will Save You Hundreds!)

Tacos sitting on a plate.

Want to stop eating out so much? Today I’m sharing 11 pro tips on how to stop eating out that will save you and your family hundreds of dollars!

Tacos sitting on a plate.

This post contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase through one of these links, we will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See our Disclosure Policy for more information. Thank you for your support.


How to Stop Eating Out

The average American family spends hundreds of dollars per month eating out and it is said that one out of every four meals is eaten away from the home in this country. To me, this is shocking and so sad.

I’m sure you’ve seen and felt the price increases of eating out over the past couple of years due to inflation, and it doesn’t take long for those fast food trips to eat up your monthly food budget. For our family of 6, we’re hard pressed to get fast food for under $40 which is a ridiculous amount to pay for one meal in my opinion.

I understand that most people are busy with work, school and extra activities, but eating out so much is costing us our money and our health. Did you know that cooking at home, no matter what you’re making, is better for you than take-out? This is because you’re in control of the amount of salt, sugar and spices that are going into the meal.

It’s also better for you to cook meals at home because they tend to be lower in calories and it’s easier to control portions. Cooking from scratch and eating at home with your family has been proven to improve the physical and mental health of all family members involved.

I could go on and on about the benefits of cooking your own food, eating at home and connecting with your family around the dinner table, but I think you get the picture by now.

So, how do we make sure that we are eating most of our meals at home to reap the benefits? Well, today I’m going to share with you my best tips for how to stop eating out and I hope that they inspire you to get in the kitchen more as a family.

As food prices and our family have increased simultaneously, we’ve been naturally eating out less and less over the past few years. It also helps that we live rurally and don’t have easy access to every restaurant under the sun.

I’ve found that eating at home more often requires planning and a shift in thinking. It can seem daunting, but really if you can make a few changes and dedicate just a little bit more time in your week to planning and meal prepping, then it is 100% doable to eat home cooked meals, even for the busiest of families. I hope you enjoy these tips for how to stop eating out and I’d love to here your opinion on this subject in the comments below.

Menu Plan

Creating a list of meals that you want to make for the week is a huge step towards reaching your goal of not eating out. It’s smart to schedule a time each week to sit down with your favorite recipes and plan out your menu.

To save the most money, do reverse meal planning, which is planning as many meals as possible from what you already have in your house and what’s on sale that week at your local grocery store. If meal planning is new to you and you need more help in this area be sure to check out my post How to Meal Plan on a Tight Budget.

Keep Snacks in the Car or at Work

Keeping a stash of nutritious and portable snacks in the car or at work is a great way to avoid last minute drive-thru stops. Having things like nuts, cheese sticks, dried fruit or peanut butter crackers on hand can help you to get through busy days away from home. A little extra planning in this area goes a long way in avoiding the drive thru each week.

Use Convenience Foods

I cook mostly from scratch because it’s healthier and more frugal than buying convenience foods, but I still keep a stash of convenience food, such as frozen pizza, on hand for the days that I need them in a hurry. The truth is, even the most dedicated home cook will have days that go haywire and will need a backup.

It’s a good idea to keep a few already prepped meals in the freezer or on your pantry shelf for just such an occasion, so you aren’t tempted to hit the local fast food joint on the way home. As the saying goes, a failure to plan is a plan to fail.

Do Some Freezer Cooking

Taking a few hours a month to prepare home cooked meals for the freezer is a great way to save money and avoid eating out on busy nights. Things like casseroles, soups or slow cooker meals tend to freeze beautifully and are a great help when you need them.

If doing a big freezer cooking day seems too overwhelming, then simply plan to double and freeze one dinner per week and you’ll have a stash in the freezer to help you avoid eating out in no time! Check out the links below for recipes that freeze well to get started.

Family-Friendly Freezer Meals:

Meal Prep

Trying to eat home cooked meals with a busy lifestyle can be challenging, but setting aside an hour or two per week to do things like chop vegetables, boil eggs, cook meat, shred cheese, etc. will set you up for success the rest of the week. Some people even pack lunches for the entire week on Sunday nights so they can just grab and go the rest of the week. The more you can prep in advance, the close you will be to reaching your goal of skipping the drive thru throughout the week.

Plan for Events

If you know that on Wednesday nights you will be at soccer practice during dinner, then make a plan to pack something easy such as fruit and sandwiches. Planning ahead is a great way to keep your family eating healthy meals on the go.

Take a look at your schedule for the week and plan accordingly. For instance, we have piano Wednesday afternoons, so I know that I have to prep a slow cooker meal that morning to get dinner on the table that evening. Taking the time to plan ahead will save you a lot of stress and grief throughout the week.

Count the Costs

What is eating out really costing you? Add up how much money you are currently spending in this area to see how much you could save by eating at home. Also, compare how much a home cooked meal costs vs. a fast food meal.

Doing this will cause you to stop and think before you drop $40-$50 on one meal when you could make the same thing for $5-$10 at home. Also, count the cost of your health. Is eating takeout and restaurant meals multiple times per week really the best thing your you and your family long term?

Learn to Love Leftovers

For someone who is trying to save money and eat at home, leftovers are your best friend. I generally make enough to have at least a few servings of leftovers. I don’t cook lunch in general, because I rely on leftovers so heavily. If you don’t have leftovers, then consider cooking larger portions, so that you can have the rest for lunch the next day. You can also plan a leftovers night for dinner once per week to make sure you’re not letting any food go to waste.

Leftovers can also be a great way to get creative and reinvent in the kitchen. Got leftover chili? Make chili dogs or chili mac casserole. Got leftover chicken? Make chicken salad. Got leftover baked potatoes? Make fried or mashed the next night! Making the best use of your leftovers is a fun skill to practice and will save you money and stress in the long run.

Make Use of Your Slow Cooker or Crock Pot

I’m a huge fan of the slow cooker for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest is that I generally have more breathing room to get dinner together in the beginning of the day verses the end of the day when everyone is worn out.

I lean on it pretty heavily for things like soups, chili, beans and just about anything else that I can make. I even have a casserole slow cooker which adds some variety to the slow cooker meals that we love. If you need healthy meals on the table in a hurry, then give it a try. Also, check out the recipes below to get you started.

Family-Favorite Slow Cooker Meals:

Make Your Favorites at Home

Sometimes you just want fried chicken, right? Well, what’s stopping you from making it at home? It really isn’t that difficult and I promise you that it will be worth it. You can find just about any copy cat recipe online for your restaurant favorites. I’ve included some of our favorites below to get your started.

Favorite Copycat Recipes:

Keep a List of Simple Recipes

Life is busy and there will be times when you just need to fill bellies in a hurry. This is why you should keep a list of quick and easy meals that you have the ingredients on hand for at any given time. Things like scrambled eggs and toast or quesadillas and salsa make filling meals with minimal ingredients that can be made in 10 minutes or less. These types of foods will save you a ton in the long run.


Change can be extremely hard and if you’ve been eating out all of your life (like me) then trying to stop or just do it less often, will be a challenge, but with some commitment and planning you can definitely make eating at home more of a reality. Just make one change at a time and do the best with what you have in front of you. The best things you can do are to plan ahead, keep convenience foods on hand and give yourself grace. You’ve got this!

How many times do you eat our per week? What do you do to avoid eating out? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Follow Graceful Little Honey Bee on:
Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Similar Posts


  1. I rarely eat out since I have learned how to keep my IBS completely under control and it is NOT through restaurant food! I wanted to thank you, Missy, for teaching me how to make better pictures. It has made blogging SO much more fun! Here is one of my latest posts I wanted to share with you with a picture of my kitchen. Blessings to you!
  2. I really love your advice. Eating out can really deplete the home budget and you are so right about that pizza in the freezer! :)
  3. We very rarely eat out. Maybe once every two months. It helps that we all prefer the hubbie's cooking over restaurant food! We also try to plan errands, etc around meal times so we aren't starving while we're out and about. Of course, there are times when we are out for the day and eating out just makes sense!
  4. I got out of the habit in the past few years and now it's not even really a temptation anymore, praise God! Occasionally when we just want to we'll go do it, but other than that I just don't even really think about it. I guess having a lot of young kids helps because that's a crapshoot... ha :)
  5. We usually eat out on Friday night and get carry out on Saturday night. I totally agree about having the convenience foods ready. I used to skip the convenience foods and then when I was short on time would fall back on carry out. Now I try to have a frozen pizza in the fridge for a crazy night.
  6. These are great tips! We've been working on eating out a lot less and it really helps the budget. I find that if I keep quick foods like sandwich stuff or a frozen pizza on hand it's much easier to avoid eating out.
  7. Love these tips! This is an area that that my husband and I have been struggling in. I'm going to work on that using these tips. Thanks!
  8. These are great tips! We live about 20 minutes from any restaurants. The travel time along discourages us. Have good week!
  9. This is such a great post, Missy! We eat out maybe 1 to 2 times a month. Both of us grew up not eating out much because our families weren't small and couldn't afford it. That has definitely helped us be more okay with not eating out much, although I very much enjoy the break from cooking and sometimes wish we could do it more! :) I agree though, that the biggest thing that has helped me is planning ahead to make sure I have a couple of ideas for easy, quick meals for the weekend. In fact, the last several months we've gotten into the habit of having toasted tuna salad sandwiches and fruit/yogurt smoothies for Sunday dinners. The kids look forward to it and love it and it's one less thing for me to worry about. :)
  10. Great post! It drew my attention because I blogged about "She bringeth her food from afar" yesterday. So, I have grocery shopping, meal prep, and family meal times on my mind! :) Because we have ten children, we don't eat out every week. I'd say on average twice a month. It's easier now that some are out of the nest! :) Great tips here! Thanks for sharing!
  11. Great tips! I especially like the idea of keeping some convenience foods in the house. I usually cook from scratch too, and when I'm too tired to cook, we go out. I'm going to start making sure we have frozen pizzas in the house just for that! Thanks for sharing! Join in on our weekly #CelebrateSouthern link up! We'd love to have you join in on the fun!
  12. These are such great tips, Missy! I use all of them. We used to eat out once or twice a week until I saw what it costs us in a year. Multiplied over 10 and 20 years, we are talking about a significant amount of money. Quitting the eating out habit was very difficult for me. I felt (and still do) that I deserve a break, but decided that it is too costly. Like you, I plan for simpler meals when life is busy. The crock pot is my best friend. I also purchase convenience foods on ocassion. One of the biggies for me is a loaf of french bread. It makes an easy pizza and it is much cheaper than the frozen kind. I broke the habit by challenging myself to see how long we could go without eating out. A week became a month and a month became six. Now we only eat out when traveling or on very special occasions. I do miss it, but I don't miss the savings! Thanks, again, for sharing your tips with us.
    1. I use my crockpot all the time and try to keep freezer meals in the freezer. You're right eating out once or twice a week over a long period really adds up!
  13. SO many people tell me about planning freezer meals in advance and I have yet to take advantage of it! This summer I'm planning an epic garden so I'll be in the kitchen a lot canning, freezing veggies, etc. I should be able to squeeze time in to prepare meals in advance! Right now, however, my freezer is PACKED to the brim with donation breast milk. :D So, nothing fits in our freezer except for a tub of ice cream. ;)
  14. When we do eat out because errands ran longer than expected or other unplanned reasons, we avoid "happy meals" and divide larger portions between our kids. For example, a ten piece chicken and medium fries with three orders of Apple's is just as much food (my two year old doesn't eat a whole happy meal!) and is cheaper than three happy meals plus no toys laying around that I will just get rid of!
  15. Keeping snacks in the car is so key. Well - my baby bag - some times a quick outing can take double the time. I really try to avoid the drive thru with little ones. It's not a habit I want to start.
  16. Great tips! I have tried meal planning before and it goes well for a while then poof. It's usually just the hubs and I but for the last 7 months and for the next 6 or so we have had a friend and her 3 girls living here. She and I are going to try to do some meal prep. Wish us luck!
  17. In the turkish kitchen we do have a variety of baked food alternating to pizza, which we also love a lot. Whenever I bake something, I try to bake some more than needed, which will go in the freezer. These are then ready quick food. Also here in Turkey you can buy ready dough from the bakery, to the same price like the baked bread. With this we can make homemade pizzas to the quarter price of ordered pizza...
  18. I see by your pictures that many of you ladies are much younger than myself. Once we get older, there are a few things that tend to creep up on us, like high blood pressure and cholesterol. Restaurant food is notoriously high in sodium and fat and Lord knows what else. The you have had to take the time to drive to the restaurant etc. I find now that I have no choice but to cook from scratch and even have to watch canned and frozen goods. Planning is everything. So you might as well get in the habit of cooking at home to safeguard your health. I, too, keep a frozen pizza. If I have to blow the good eating habits, at least I don't have to over pay. My challenge now is cooking single, having been recently widowed. Have already been a big fan of freezer meals - just have to tweak the system a bit
  19. Thank you for the tips. I really need to start planning things out better. Any tips for freezer cooking with a small top freezer? I finally have an oven that cooks evenly and now I'm finding new ways to use it :)
  20. This is an older post but I just now read it, and I'm finding that the one thing that keeps me from eating out more than anything else is having a clean kitchen. If I do my dishes every night and put them away every morning, I'm so much happier to cook and so much less overwhelmed and exhausted by the prospect.
  21. Being a college student, takeout is the biggest problem for me... it's just so convenient! But I'm glad you shared some of your tips, I know I'll get some use out of them!
  22. Love this! Some of the biggest things that have saved us hundreds over the past couple months is the 1.) meal planning, 2.) shopping our pantry first, 3.) packing snacks in my bag for the kids and myself, and 4.) communicating our saving goals to our kids and implementing them with “no-spend” days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.