22 Days of No Restaurants in November

Photo Credit: Eboli

The “Normal” Justification Routine

Cue Dream Sequence

I’ve been up since 6 a.m. My 1 year old had a rough night due to teething and the day has not been much better.

I completed some of the work I needed to do for today but there is so much more to do. I couldn’t keep the kids inside all day while I typed away and it was such a nice day so I took them out to play at the park.

We played Frisbee, Downhill Racer, played at the park, then went home and helped Isaac work on writing the letter T — uppercase and lowercase. We practiced counting numbers from 0-100, and even colored some pictures.

Then we headed back out to run some much needed errands.

Now we’re about to head home and it’s 7:00 p.m. Should I just stop by one of these fast food joints to get a quick dinner?

I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off all day and I’m ready to relax. I deserve a break. I just don’t feel like cooking a meal or cleaning a bunch of dishes, plus I have to give the boys a bath, read them a couple stories, and get them to bed.

Isaac has school in the morning. Where did the day go?

It would just make things so much easier and I’m already out. Fast food it is! I’ll stop by Chic-Fil-A because McDonald’s is super gross. Four combo meals and $25 later I’m on my way home for a quick, easy, and convenient, but expensive late night dinner.

Ahhhh…I feel better but was it worth it? Hmmm.

**No I didn’t eat out, this is what typically happens, or used to happen, in this type of situation.

Eating Out Should Be a Treat

Well here’s the thing. If this kind of decision were made once in a while this would be fine. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using the convenience card from time to time. It’s the three to four times a week that’s the budget killer. That’s precisely what happened to me and my family ever since we became debt free one year ago.

What was once a treat, became a habit and was no longer special. Not having been to a restaurant for three weeks now I totally see eating out for what it should be. A treat that you look forward to one or two times a month give or take.

Looking back I cannot remember a single dinner that felt special or well deserved.We took the easy way out time and time again, and were willing to waste away over approximately $500 a month to do so. Not cool!

I have not eaten out at a restaurant in over three weeks now. I am not dead and our Emergency Fund has grown because of it. I’d say it has been a complete success!

I did struggle just a bit this week though but I stayed strong! It wasn’t that I wanted to blow my challenge. It was more the habit part of all this still being partially on auto-pilot than anything else. Because of a few days like the one in the story above, I found myself appreciating the real benefit and nature of eating out at a restaurant. I really wanted to be able to make my life easier and just eat out but I kept thinking of all the money we have saved thus far.

Instead of giving in like the many times prior to November, I went home and prepared a quick meal for the family.

We did have in our possession a few free dinner coupons where dinner would have been free. It was tempting and according to the rules stated in the original post, technically speaking, if YOU don’t pay for the meal it doesn’t count. With that said, we still didn’t do it because it would of felt like cheating to me and I really wanted to prove that not eating out for an entire month is not only doable but worth the “sacrifice”.

22 Daysย  – No Restaurants Recap and Update

Three Week Grocery Budget – $375

Week One

October: Spent $249.74 — November: Spent $134.14 SAVED: $115.60

Week Two

October: Spent $364.28 — November: Spent $129.05 SAVED: $235.23

Week Three

October: Spent $226.64 — November: Spent 121.42$ SAVED $105.22


October: Spent $840.66 — November: Spent $384.61 SAVED: $456.05

We’ve already done the grocery shopping for Week Four and have spent $73.62. We’ll definitely have to buy some milk, juice, fruits and veggies but I am not expecting to spend more than $100 total for Week Four.

Right now we are $9.61 over budget according to our weekly budget allowance of $375.

Not too bad! If we only spend $100 for Week Four that will put us at spending $484.61 for the month of November. That will mean we will have saved more than our goal with $567.50. That’s how much we will be adding to our Emergency Fund for the month of November plus other savings contributions. That ROCKS and will totally make this challenge well worth the effort.

See you next week! ๐Ÿ˜€

About Brad Chaffee

11 Responses to “22 Days of No Restaurants in November”

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  1. Den says:

    Awesome job on resisting temptation!!! I think your article is completely on track – eating out should be a treat and enjoyed. We have been restaurant free this month, except for our Anniversary dinner (burger and fries with good friends at a local joint) and really really enjoyed it! Any other month it would have been just another meal out, but this month it was anticipated and greatly enjoyed!

    Now I hope we can last another week without caving….good thing Thanksgiving is in 2 days!

  2. Wade says:

    I have to admit that I like your willpower to avoid giving in to eating out. My wife and I have tried to have that mentality that we would like to cut down on eating out to once per month instead of a couple of times per week. In fact, I was thinking about this very topic today when I felt a little guilt for stopping at Taco John’s for lunch.

    Congratulations on making it three weeks, and good luck getting through the next week, too!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Thanks Wade! I agree that it\’s hard to overcome at first and the decision to do so is even harder. I have to say though that it is definitely worth it.

      Going down to eating once or twice a month is a great start! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Nicole says:

    That’s so encouraging. I tried but have kept forgetting… although I’m single, so not quite as expensive and an ordeal as with a family. It saved you a ton! Congrats. I will keep that in mind for my own decisions… thanks for experimenting for us!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      LOL, yeah definitely a bigger difference when you are single. Without wishing my kids out of existence I long for the days when eating out, or eating at all, cost so much. Haha!

      I would even go as fat to say that it is much harder for singles. The desire to not eat by yourself is huge. When I was single I found that I would go out to eat just to be around people. LOL

  4. Serenity says:

    Brad, I have a confession to make: I failed after 22 days. And it definitely feels like a failure. (see my latest post!)

    I did realize some things, though: 1) I really do save money/my health if I avoid the drive-thru, and 2) This is going to be so much easier when I’m no longer traveling back and forth to see my boyfriend and family all the time.

    Let me know where you’re going to go when November is through. I’m currently weighing options on what I want to do – make it a lifestyle or make it a general guideline … hmm

    Rock on, dude!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I will definitely head on over to read your post. Traveling definitely makes this challenge a problem, especially if it\’s not considered a business expense. You did great and it\’s awesome that you realized some things in the process. Keep rockin\’ the challenge the best you can!

      I admit that while this challenge has definitely been great for us, we don\’t intend to make NO EATING OUT a permanent thing. We will go to a more relaxed but cautious mindset and try to do once or twice a month from here on out.

      Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Wow that is impressive. There have been many days where I thought ‘well, Taco Bell will be fast and cheap…’, and I gave in. I have 3 teenagers, so we are constantly on the go. I try to pack dinners in a cooler now from home, which may be sandwiches, cold chicken, whatever, along with fruit and such. It is so much healthier for the kiddos, especially when they have to play sports. (Don’t want them to run up and down a soccer field with a bean burrito sloshing around in their gut.)

    Life is crazy these days, and planning ahead really helps. The only time our system really falls apart now is when I am sick. Then I give it to whatever just to get through the day!

    Congratulations on your accomplishment!

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