Our family dubbed 2016 our #yearofno. This was our inspiration that encouraged us in our debt payoff journey. You can learn more about that here.
One of the biggest changes we made in 2016 was breaking our fast food habit. We have five kids, so we’re always on the go. That lead to a lot of food to go in the form of fast food runs, pizza deliveries, and even constant drinks at the gas station.
With a family of 7, you can see how that dug our debt hole even deeper.
Getting that spending under control was a must. And I’m proud to say that we cut our fast food and pizza budgets down to a tiny fraction of what it had been. (Hey, no one’s perfect.)
What helped? I’m going to tell you all about it!
Avoiding Food to Go and Saving Big Money
Plan for It
If you’re often on the go, then food to go is naturally going to follow. Be ready for it! In order to break our fast food habit, I made certain preparations at home.
I always had our small cooler (similar to this) ready to go out the door. I kept water bottles in it (or Gatorade or whatever we were drinking) at all times. When it was time to leave, I just added some ice and out we went. In the winter, I just toss cold drinks into a bag and it works out fine.
I also made sure to keep snacks on hand. It’s cheaper to buy big bags and portion them out yourself. But even if you buy a pack of “grab and go” bags of chips at the grocery store, that’s ok. You’re still saving over the price of fast food, convenience stores, and concession stands.
You can’t always plan ahead, but you can still be ready for the unexpected to a certain extent. Depending on the weather, you can keep snacks and water bottles in the car. (Don’t leave them there when it freezes or you’ll have a mess!)
Boxes of raisins are super convenient (and cheap!). Granola bars and nuts also store well. A quick snack like this can keep hunger at bay until you can get back home.
I Heart Crock Pots
The crock pot is your best friend on a super busy day. It’s awesome to not have to throw something together at the busiest tie of day. But as an added bonus, people on different schedules can eat when they need to.
I’m a huge fan of family dinners, but every once in a while we have a night when it’s just not going to happen. Sometimes I’ll ask the child with the wacky schedule to just warm up a hot dog. But I would far rather be able to offer them a healthier hot alternative.
My favorite crock pot recipes are:
- Dump & Run Taco Soup
- pulled pork (add salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and a can of Dr. Pepper…or just water)
- Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Crock Pot Ham & Beans
- Cowboy Beans
For a long time, I avoided buying premade frozen foods. They aren’t the healthiest option. But guess what? Neither is fast food!
We don’t eat chicken patties or frozen pizzas terribly often. But just knowing that there’s a meal waiting in my freezer should I get sick or we have a crazy day helps a ton. Many times this method saved us from drive thrus and pizza deliveries.
Make Your Own
If you hate the idea of buying convenience foods, plan a freezer meal day. On a boring weekend, you can make several recipes to drop in your freezer. Then use those meals on busy days.
Ideas to try:
- casseroles (avoid potatoes in the freezer)
- banana bread
Take These Steps:
- Look at your calendar for the week and decide how you’ll handle meals and snacks on busy days.
- Choose some crock pot recipes to try.
- Stock up on snacks that are easy to grab and go.
- Have an extra simple meal ready in the freezer.
- Save the money you would have spent on fast food.
This was day 8 in the Secure Your Savings and Find Peace in the New Year series. Go to the bottom of this post to find all the money saving and money making posts in this series!
Life is busy, and food to go is sometimes a necessity. These tips make it affordable!
Our family saved hundreds of dollars by learning to avoid the drive thru. Depending on your habits, you can save a bunch of money using these methods!
How do you avoid drive thrus?