Fast food is certainly convenient…but it doesn’t do much for your wallet (or your waistline!). Here’s how to break the habit when you’re tired of fast food.
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.)
Breaking that habit wasn’t simple, but using these ideas made it easier!
Avoiding Food to Go and Saving Big Money
Plan for It
If you’re often on the go, then fast food is probably a solution you often turn to.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Break your fast food habit by making certain preparations at home.
I always have our small cooler (similar to this) ready to go out the door.
Keep water bottles in it (or Gatorade or whatever you drink) at all times. When it’s time to leave, just add some ice and head out.
In the winter, you can even toss cold drinks into a bag… it works out fine.
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 learn to be ready for the unexpected!
Depending on the weather, you can keep snacks and water bottles in the car.
Boxes of raisins are super convenient (and cheap!). Granola bars, nuts, and jerky are easy to keep in a vehicle.
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 time of day.
An added bonus is that people on different schedules can eat whenever 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.
Even better is when you make the time to…
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
Set Up Rules
One last thing to try is to create rules for yourself.
For instance, we decided during our #yearofno that if someone had been in the hospital at an awkward time, we were allowed to grab fast food on the way home.
(We live an hour from the hospital and between 5 kids, we find ourselves in the ER with migraines and asthma more frequently than we’d like!)
What rules would work for your family?
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 fast food 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?