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Break the Cycle of Takeout and Save

We all love to treat ourselves to a good meal. However, for many Americans, going out to dinner or ordering takeout is a weekly or bi-weekly event. And while there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, the reality is that approximately 60% of Americans report having $1,000 or less in their savings accounts.1 That’s very little savings and lots of restaurant meals.

So. why are Americans choosing the expense of takeout. delivery and restaurant meals over cooking at home?

It’s Fun

With a push to value experiences over things, many individuals and families are spending their dollars to maximize enjoyment and that includes multiple dining experiences during the week. Going out-whether it’s with friends, family, or on a date-is a fun thing to do to break up the week.

We’re Swamped

Many Americans work full-time, and add to those hours the pressures of school, activities for kids and other commitments and it’s clear many of us have a lot going on. Often, the stress that comes with a lot of obligations means a tendency to overeat. And there’s no industry better at indulging your craving for fat. salt and sugar like the restaurant industry, which is why we might find ourselves turning to takeout when we’re feeling stressed.

We Have Serious FOMO

If you’re not familiar with FOMO—“fear of missing out”—it’s probably good to acquaint yourself with the term. Most of us feel at one point or another like everyone but us is out there having fun and we want to join the party. So when a friend calls and says, “Hey, you should come out.” we’re left feeling like our options are to sit home and feel left out. or join them even if it’s not in our budget.

We Didn’t Plan

It takes a little forward-thinking to successfully beat the urge to go out. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, your family, or a group, taking the time to plan out your meals for the week and shop for the ingredients takes time. And many of us feel we lack the skills to be good cooks, making this whole arrangement seem more challenging.

So What Can You Do About It?

You probably know why you’re reticent to cook meals at home every week, but changing set behaviors is not an easy task. What can you do to save
yourself the cost of frequent meals out?

  1. Collect Recipes. If you’re struggling to see how you can make your way through the complex field of shopping and cooking, start by collecting recipes you like. Sources such as Real Simple, Food Network and Family Circle offer quick and easy 30-minute recipes that won’t take up too much of your time or budget—and extra points if those recipes are Crockpot meals that can be quickly prepared in the morning and are ready to eat after work.
  2. Try a Meal Planning App. There are lots of tools available for planning your weekly meals. Whether you use the tried-and-true pen and paper method, or a more modern mobile option, getting organized has never been easier. Apps like Paprika, Plan To Eat. Cook Smarts, and Pepperplate offer access to thousands of recipes and grocery lists that can keep you organized and on track.
  3. Plan a Potluck. For many of us, eating out is a social experience. We meet our friends, family or significant others out for appetizers, dinner, or drinks-and the bills add up. Invite your friends over for a shared meal at home. Ask each friend to bring a dish and enjoy all the social benefits of eating together without the restaurant mark-up.
  4. Make Cooking a Family Affair. It can be easy to turn to takeout when you’re trying to feed your family. You’re busy. your kids are hungry and you need dinner fast. The occasional family pizza night can turn into a weekly affair because it’s just so easy to do. Instead of resorting to restaurants, have your kids help you cook. Young children can be helpful in the kitchen {with supervision, obviously!) Not only will cooking together save you some cash, it will also teach your children valuable lessons about how to prepare food and be a fun event for everyone.
  5. Consider the Savings. The reality is that the average American family spends over $3,000 a year on prepared food.2 That $3,000 could be spent in lots of different ways. Whether you need to pay down debt. invest in your retirement or save for your children’s education, those few thousand dollars can add up to a lot of money over time. Cutting out just a few restaurant meals per week could save you over $1,000 annually. Think about where that money could go and adjust accordingly.

While the siren song of takeout can be hard to ignore, there are things you can do to stay in control of your eating habits and your budget. With some careful planning and a change in attitude, you can be on the way to saving more every month. Remember, even a little goes a long way when it comes to saving! If you’re looking to create a budget to save for your priorities, let Jemma Financial help you. Our experienced Financial Advisors can work with you to develop a customized savings and investment plan that works for you.

1 “Americans’ Savings Drop to Lowest Point in Years.” gobankingrates.com. 2/13/21. 2 “Consumer Expenditures-2019.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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