Shocking News: Two Weeks of No Restaurants and I’m Still Alive

A memory that was almost never captured!

Two weeks without a single bite at a restaurant…Yippeee!

No delivery. No fast food. No buffets. To be honest with you, this has been much easier than I expected. The rest of this month is going to be even easier.

At this point I am wondering why something like this would be considered extreme and unrealistic to so many. Hard maybe, but extreme? Come on. Is making yourself exercise extreme? Is eating right extreme? I think not, although I admit that there is a degree of difficulty in doing any of the above. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Still I find that it’s no more extreme than forcing yourself to get up early before work to get a little cardio in.

Extreme is swearing off debt for the rest of your life. Extreme is paying 100% down on your next house. Extreme is never using a credit card ever again, or refusing to be a part of the “I love my credit score” club. I am extreme, but this challenge is not!

Not going a whole month without eating at a restaurant, compared to those things, makes what I’m doing seem like wearing the same shirt twice in one week.

I think it’s more extreme to pretend that spending hundred’s of dollars every month on eating out is not a bad financial decision. Behavior meets reality anyone? ๐Ÿ˜‰

What about a specialty food store? Is that eating out?

I did have a close call this past week. Not like you would think though, and I never even considered that some might consider it to be eating out. Here’s what happened.

My wife and I were going to go to the grocery store because she wanted her favorite dish — spaghetti. I suggested that we do something a little different this time instead of buying packaged and canned spaghetti like we usually do. There’s an Italian specialty shop (Mona Lisa Pasta) in town that cuts your pasta fresh right in front of you. Fresh pasta and a container of their homemade Vodka Cream Sauce and Marinara from their fridge and we were on our way.

So I cooked it up and it was absolutely delicious, and before I could finish savoring what was left on my plate, it is was suggested that what we did was considered eating out. No WAY this is eating out I said!

I made my case, which was that what we did was no different than going to a local grocer to buy groceries, only this grocer had fresh pasta. Kind of like going to a fresh bakery to buy your bread because you would rather have fresh bread than two day old bread from the shelf. I’m sorry, but I don’t consider that eating out. Under those rules stopping by a fresh produce stand would be considered eating out too.

I stand by my position on this, but what do you think? Did we technically eat out?

Fighting the addictive temptation to eat out with creativity.

Saturday was an interesting day as well though. I was out with my boys and like so many other times before, the urge to eat out was growing inside me. Normally there would be no hesitation whatsoever, but not this time. What did I do you ask?

I made a spontaneous decision to take the boys on a last minute picnic instead. I drove to Kroger, picked up some stuff to make sandwiches, Pringles, and a thing of cookies, and off we went. We had a picnic at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, and we had the time of our life. The one picture above was worth the “extreme sacrifice” I made and there are more pictures where those came from.

I have to say, if I could have a picnic with my boys every time I had the desire to waste my money eating out, life couldn’t get any better. ๐Ÿ™‚

How much did I spend and save last week?

One reader made the comment that the savings isn’t enough to motivate him/her. I can tell you that my numbers are motivating me as we speak. Here’s the weekly breakdown.

Last week we spent $129.05 at the grocery store. The same week in October, we spent $364.28 total between eating out and the grocery store. A big week indeed! It was a Sam’s Club week.

So last week compared to the second week in October, we saved a grand total of $235.23! In the first two weeks of my No restaurants in November Challenge, we have saved $350.83. AWESOME! I’m unbelievably motivated right now.

What if I was to invest just the savings from the first two weeks each and ever month for a total of 30 years at 8% interest. That’s 360 months multiplied by $350.83 plus compounding interest.

If I started with zero in the bank on the first month, after 30 years I would have $515,071.21! That’s a half a million bucks of motivation for me and we’re only half way through the month!

($350.83 multiplied by 360 months is $126,298.80. Interest earned on that amount is 388,772.41. $515,071.21 in the bank baby!)

Let’s see. Saying it’s too hard to eat at home and paying hundreds of dollars a month to eat out OR eating at home and building wealth. Gee, that’s a hard decision.

I say again. Is it extreme to sacrifice when the ends justify the means or to completely ignore the amount of money being wasted simply because something might be too hard to accomplish?

You be the judge. What do you think, and has your mind changed since the beginning of this challenge?

About Brad Chaffee

18 Responses to “Shocking News: Two Weeks of No Restaurants and I’m Still Alive”

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  1. Wish I could say the same about holding up to no restaurants but my anniversary was this month.

  2. Heather says:

    I took a good, long look at the money we were spending on restaurants, pizza & food several years ago. We now go months without eating away from home. It helps that I like to cook, and our food allergies provide added motivation to stay in where I can control the ingredients, but I know we save a ton of money preparing our own meals – breakfast, lunch *and* dinner.

    I’m also careful with our grocery budget and a dedicated coupon clipper, which helps even more. Our family of 5 spends around $500 per month on food – total. This includes groceries, occasional dining and the very rare takeout.

    Good luck to you! I can’t wait to see the rest of your month add up.

  3. Serenity says:

    Great post, though I’m sure you’re still going to get naysayers. This is something that’s come up in some other blogs that I follow – taking measures to be more frugal when, in the past, it was something you struggled with. For most, it’s a shopping addiction. For me, it was a drive-thru diet.

    Like you said with eating right and exercising, think of the last time you went on a diet. Sure, it’s deprivation and sometimes hard work, but aside from losing weight, I think the overall end result we’re looking for with any diet or other regimen is to see if we can challenge ourselves and follow through. You get that “I did it!” feeling, which means a lot more than hitting a weight loss goal, in my opinion. After you’re done with the “diet,” you let yourself have a few more indulgences but keep going on the straight & narrow. Or, at least, that’s what you should do!

    Here’s an update on my Challenge: I spent $35.58 on groceries this week. I’m buying healthier foods with lower sodium, which sometimes cost more. But last month I spent $47.90, which included 3 meals out for me and my BF. Not a huge amount of savings, but I think it’s going to add up at the end of the month!

    Here’s another kicker: I’ve lost 6 pounds! Didn’t even plan on that, but it’s a great unintended result ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      LOL yeah that\’s okay. If I get a few people\’s attention enough to try that\’s wonderful.:D

      Sounds like you\’re doing great. Congratulations on the 6 pounds too that is so great to hear!

      I look forward to seeing your totals at the end of the month.

  4. This is such an awesome, inspiring post. I’m working on cooking more and eating out less but I may have to float your ‘no restaurants’ idea to my family and see if we can give it a shot! Thanks for sharing the details.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Thank you Julie! ๐Ÿ˜€

      See what they say, and maybe you could ease them into something like doing it for a week at first. Who knows, they may be up for the challenge!

  5. Apart from saving money (BIG time!), I’ve found that not eating out makes a real difference on the bathroom scale. With regular exercise I can lose weight just from not eating out. But two or three restaurant meals in one week, and it all goes right down the drain–no matter what else I do.

    I think we under estimate the nutritional disaster that eating out is. There’s reason restaurant food tastes so good.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Great point Kevin! One of the biggest things you avoid is high sodium food. Eating out is loaded with salt which is what I think you were getting at in your comment. Salt makes you crave. Thanks for the comment man! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Jeannine says:

    I had the same thought when I picked up prepared food from Whole Foods one day. I am intrigued by the no restaurants challenge (not actually involved, but interested…maybe a personal challenge in January :o) I believe that buying prepared/ specialty foods from a market is not cheating, but is riding a fine line. I appreciate that you still had to go home and prepare the food so not cheating, but the I guess the sushi I bought at Whole Foods is…

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Yeah I think people have different standards regarding that. I think buying groceries at a specialty store is perfectly fine although one could make the argument, at least for this challenge, that it defeats the purpose of trying not to eat out because it is usually more expensive. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. TRAVIS says:

    So far so good… I was thinking I might break last weekend when I was planning to go out to the bars with a girl. I am normally good at taking a flask with me and drinking from that. I was a little worried as the plans were date-ish. Did I want to look like some kind of strange cheap-skate with this girl? Well the plans didn’t end up happening. But I think I probably would have stuck to my gun and explained it in the most interesting way possible. A lot of girls would get a kick out of it. If she wouldn’t have liked it then probably she’s not the kind of girl I would’ve liked.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Awesome Travis! I can see how your dilemma may have caused you to give in, but at least you didn\’t have to. LOL Who knows, maybe she would have been totally fine with it too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Den says:

    This is hard for us! We’ve been restaurant free for 2 1/2 weeks and while we all enjoy eating nice dinners at home more often, it’s a bit of a struggle when we are super busy, on the road with errands, or running low of good groceries….but overall it’s still been a positive experience. I think we all are realizing how much we took eating out for granted, plus we are seeing the results in our checkbook – it’s not in the negative numbers this month – yippee!

    So we’ll continue for the month and then maybe do it again in the winter time. Eating out should be a TREAT and this experiment has reminded us of that.

    Thanks for the great updates – it’s very helpful and inspiring to hear how others are doing!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      The convenience factor has been an issue for us as well, but one of the things I have realized is that cooking at home doesn\’t have to be a big ordeal. I have found some affordable and quick meals to prepare that don\’t take up so much time. I try to look for recipes that can be prepared and finished cooking in less than 30 minutes time.

      I was actually surprised that there were so many recipes that fit that but it has worked for us so far. Good luck with the rest of your challenge and congratulations on your success in the last two and a half weeks. AWESOME JOB!!

  9. Lizzie says:

    I have been following your challenge. I am also no longer eating out. If you can do it, so can I. The way I figured the pasta incident: No, it’s not eating out. I have a ton of dietary allergies and must shop for my groceries in higher end food specialty stores as I cannot have preservatives, corn, cassein, wheat, or sugar. I have found that middle eastern markets carry the best food choices for my needs. Best of all, they are the cheapest places to get the groceries I need.I am also reading a wonderful book that you can find here . This book is filled with great ways to help the financially strapped find the hidden money we waste every day. I’ve been following it and your blog, as well as a few other great financial blogs, to change the way I use my money.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Thanks Lizzie for having my back on the pasta thing because I would have been crushed had it really been considered eating out. I feel so great about our determination to save more money and be less wasteful. It felt great when we were becoming debt free and this challenge has reminded me of just how nice it is to have eating out be the special event it should be as opposed to the norm. Thanks for the great comment!

  10. To answer your question if you did eat out, I don’t think so. You bought the ingredients and COOKED IT YOURSELF in your home and didn’t eat it right there and then, so I guess you’re safe ๐Ÿ™‚

    I don’t really have problems about controlling myself not to eat out because I was raised by mom eating the dishes she cooks to the point I would be a bit stressed eating the similar dishes ๐Ÿ˜‰ A great challenge for me now is to stop myself buying new shoes, new bags and yes, concerts. Not that I’ve been doing a lot of the latter but I have to travel to a different city just to watch them and that makes up most of the expenses. Wow, the figures are definitely motivating. From small and simple things, great things can come to pass!

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