Thursday, March 27, 2008

End of the Fast Food Challenge - Lessons Learned

As we wind up the month of March, I want to go ahead and blog about my month-long Fast Food Challenge. Was I successful? Well, technically, no. We DID end up going out to eat some. BUT, in actuality( (is that even a word??), I believe I was successful. We went out to eat a lot less than usual, and we ended up saving a lot of money. How much money? I'm not real sure, but probably a couple of hundred dollars (blushing profusely now). DH is very happy with this month's budget! LOL!

Take for example, last night. Since my car is still in the shop, I had to wait until DH got home and take his truck to the library and Super Target (I was seeing if the Easter stuff had gone 75% off yet - it hadn't). I had thought about getting some supper at Super Target, but my back started hurting while there real bad, and I decided I didn't feel like cooking once I got home. So I left there, and ran by Fazoli's. I bought the Family Bowl of Fettucine Alfredo with 8 breadsticks and one piece of Turtle Cheesecake for me. The total was $16.69. As I drove home, I felt sick that I had spent so much when I could have bought the same thing for a lot less at Target or somewhere else. This is what I could have paid:

* Fettucine pasta - $1

* Alfredo sauce - $2

* Breadsticks - $2

And I just bought the cheesecake since I was already there. I wouldn't have bought it if I had been at the grocery store. See how much money I could have saved if I had made this quick and easy meal at home instead of buying it at a restaurant?

So.....Lessons learned:

* Keep some "convenience" foods at home at all times! For those times when you don't have time to cook (like soccer practice nights, or church nights), have something in the freezer you can just pop in the oven. These things may seem high at the grocery store, but they are a lot less than going out to eat or stopping at the fast food restaurant. If you just can't make yourself buy convenience foods at the grocery store, then make extras of supper once a week and freeze.

* Don't let yourself run out of basic necessities! Don't run out of bread, milk, eggs, lunch meat, etc. This just makes it that much easier to say, "Let's just go out to eat tonight." This is one of my biggest problems.

* Plan, Plan, Plan! Make menus for the week. This is the key to cutting out eating out so much, I believe. I am in the bad habit of running to the grocery every few days with no list or menu, and just shopping for supper for one or two nights! If I sat down and made a menu for the week, and bought everything I needed, there would be no need to go out to eat!

* Plan a time to go the grocery store(s) alone and make it a priority. If your kids are angels when you go the grocery store, then just ignore the "alone" statement. I just need to be alone to THINK! LOL! Set aside a certain day/time for grocery shopping, and don't deviate from it! Act like it is set in stone. If you have to take your children with you, all is not lost. Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom has some great tips for shopping with children. Click here.


  1. You go girl!! We also cut out bunches of eating-out expenses this month. Not so much as a personal challenge but because we living our new and improved "Dave Budget". I can say I am so proud of us this month. We cut lots of unnecessary expenses across the board and really haven't missed any of it.

    I do like what you said about convenience foods. That is so true! What I would normally pass up at the grocery store as "too expensive" pales in comparison with the alternative price of eating the same meal out. Great analysis! By the way...I'm emailing you some documents I use for meal planning & grocery shopping. Hope they’re helpful!

    Love Ya!

  2. Those are great tips! I am so guilty of breaking all of those rules at times, and have been a lot better in the past few months. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hey, Girl!
    Check out my Tip of The Week over on my blog for a cool idea I got from a magazine for menu planning that aids in your grocery shopping, too.

  4. We try to eat healthily but I still love my fast food! When we were revamping our eating habits at first it looked like we were NEVER going to be able to eat out again b/c just too much fat and excessive calories ;(

    But then we figured 700 calories isn't too many for a fast food meal - considering 2000 calories a day is a good figure - 3 meals a day - one meal could be 700 calories.

    Let me tell you -you can't eat much for approx. 700 calories if you are eating out! A hamburger Happy Meal at McDonalds - or two soft tacos and a soda at Taco Bell.

    Realizing how unhealthy (albeit delicious) the food is - and only being able to eat small amounts of it (to fit into the 700 calories) - kind of takes the fun out of eating out!

    Added bonus of low calorie eating at fast food - you don't spend as much on it!


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