If you took our family of 6 and had us eat out just twice a week, it would average around $100 a week (and that’s when we are eating at the kids eat free places, where two of our four kids would eat for free: one per adult). Take that $100 a week and multiply it by 52 weeks and you have $5,200 just in meals out. Now since a lot of places don’t offer kids eat free, let’s bump that up to $6,000, to be on the safe side.
That’s expensive just to eat out. When we figure out how much it costs to feed our family at home, it is usually around $15 (chicken or soup for dinner with a side of vegetables/fruit and a starch), so around $780 for the year. That’s a big difference.
I think that it boils down to two things: time and boredom. When we eat out, it is usually because I don’t feel like thinking of something to cook (I typically go to about 7-10 meals that I make over & over, which is what the average family does, but when I’m bored of those or don’t have them prepared, I’m ready to eat out). The other reason than we eat out is because we are out of time. If we are running around and I know that we won’t be home until 6:00, which is hard when our younger kids go to bed at 7:00., so I’ll just stop and get something on the way home (a lot of times it is either Pizza or Japanese food.)
It’s not just me (or you). In fact, 79% of Americans, including 92% of parents, wish it were easier to recreate a restaurant experience at home.
Once Mickey and I realized how much money was being wasted by eating out a few times a week, we found some alternatives. We looked up easy recipes online and picked up some quick, filling meals from the grocery store. I know that eating out is expensive and hard with kids… so now we are going to find ways to eat at home.
Last night, I tried Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised – it tasted just like what I would order at my favorite steakhouse restaurant or any restaurant, really. (I love this little restaurant in downtown Davidson, NC, and this soup tastes like something that would be in there. Picture the restaurant with brick walls outside & in, an old-time feel, and the best homemade food). So, when I cooked this potato soup, it was so good and so quick. It went like this:
Mickey: “Hey Babe, we have to leave for wrestling in a half hour. Do you want to eat after?”
Me: “No. Let me make this potato soup. It only takes 5 minutes to make & 5 to cool. Hey boys? Get ready for wrestling and then come & eat before you go.”
Mic: “Are you sure? They usually take like 15 or 20 minutes. You better check.”
Me: “Yep. 5.”
Boys: scrambling feet, running to get ready, as they realize that they have wrestling practice tonight.
Allie: “The boys have wrestling? GIRLS NIGHT! Do you want to paint our nails?” (haha!!)
So, I grabbed the Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups and started cooking:
(Thanks so my 10 year old for snapping this picture of me pouring the Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soups in to pan… haha!! He loves taking pictures with his iPod! They can’t play on electronics during the week, so they use them for cameras and pretend to blog like mom!)
You just dump Idahoan® Premium Steakhouse® Potato Soup into water & you have a restaurant-quality soup in your kitchen within five minutes. Really.
There are a lot of other flavors, too: Creamy Potato, Loaded Potato, Cheddar Broccoli and Three Cheese Chipotle.
I just served ours with a roll and some fruit. (Our kids could eat fruit all day, every day).
All in all, it was a great meal. In fact, Beau asked me to make it again tonight, so I’m going to call that a hit. You can garnish yours, but since we had wrestling, I skipped all of that (but I’m kind of glad I did, because we were able to see how good it was without anything. I wouldn’t add anything next time, either.)
And then they were off to practice… and we had saved money, given them the nutrition that they needed for practice and had time to spare.
Ps- here are a few more ideas for eating at home:
1- Ask the kids to each pick a meal a week that they want you to make (we have to do this once a month per child or else every week we would have: tacos (Ethan’s favorite), meatball casserole (Beau’s favorite), chili (Allie’s favorite) and Beef Stroganoff (Jack’s favorite) every week, which means that we would have only 3 meals a week for something else…. hey – that could work. Only thinking of 3 meals a week. 😉 hahaha!!
3- Make it fun. We never eat in our dining room. I”ll never forget the first time that we did, as a reward to our son for getting a “blue day” at school and he said to me “Mom? Are we allowed to eat in here?” hahaha! So we made it more of a regular thing. Now, I will say that since I always have it set for holidays, it’s more work to eat in there, so I save it for fun rewards.
4- Bring in fun drinks.
I love going out to eat to get a diet coke (I know… I know… not good for me), but at home, I never drink it with dinner. I save it for my snack at night. So- some nights, let yourself have a fun snack.
5- Watch the Food Network for a day and get inspired! Then make a meal plan for a week, go to the grocery store & get it ready.
I hope that helps!