5 Ways to Stop Eating Out So Much

By Anna Kleiner | 09/18/2016

Eating out is easy, convenient, and can be a great way to socialize with friends. It’s also expensive, and often unhealthy. If you think you’re eating out too much and want to make a change, here are a few things to do to finally break the takeout habit.

1. Find out when—and why—you typically order out.

Are you a “social eater?” Always have “nothing to eat?” Never remember to bring your lunch to work? Too tired to cook after a long day? Knowing why you order out is the first step to stopping. If you don’t spend the time to understand why you eat out so much—and address the cause—you won’t succeed in breaking the habit.

2. Plan ahead.

Once you know why you’re eating out so much, you can start working on a solution. The first thing you should do is plan ahead. Set aside some time at the start of each week to plan out your meals for that week. If it seems intimidating to do everything at once, start with the meal you find yourself eating out the most. If you usually order out for lunch, for example, try bringing your lunch for a week.

3. Prepare meals ahead of time.

After you’ve made your plan for the week, it’s time to start preparing meals. Choose meals that can be prepared ahead of time or that are easy to put together, like sandwiches or salads. If one of the biggest reasons you find yourself eating out is convenience, make portions ahead of time so you can just grab and go. You can also make larger meals to freeze and eat later.

4. Make things you like to eat (and are good for you).

This one seems obvious, but a lot of people make the mistake of preparing what is easiest or healthiest, rather than what they actually should be eating. It’s much easier to find an excuse to order out when you don’t like what’s available. Find something healthy that you like eating, or try making your favorite orders at home.

5. Motivate yourself with a financial goal.

Preparing meals—rather than ordering out—can save a lot of money. Some people are motivated just by knowing that they’re saving money, but most people need a little more motivation. Calculate how much you’ll save by preparing meals instead of eating out, and then consider what you can do with it. Maybe you want to save for your child’s education, buy a new car, or go on vacation. Keeping this financial goal in mind when you’re tempted to eat out will help you stay on track.