There's Only One Thing That's Ever Helped Me Spend Less at Restaurants

Americans spend an average of $3,639 a year eating out at restaurants, which is a pretty big amount of money. And it’s completely understandable why people spend so much dining out — the food is good and it’s enjoyable to try different restaurants.

My own personal restaurant spending is above average, and, despite some efforts in the past to cut back on dining out, I’ve never really been successful at reducing my spending in this area.

There is, however, one thing I’ve started doing that has made more of a difference than anything else in reducing my desire to break out my credit cards for a dinner out. Here’s what it is.

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This technique has made me want to dine out less

The only technique that has ever worked for me in reducing my restaurant spending has been making copycat meals at home that turn out better than the food I can usually get in restaurants.

See, my husband and I decided we wanted to cook more at home, both for health reasons and to put more money in savings for the home renovation project we’re working on. And we thought it would be a fun challenge to recreate some of our favorite restaurant meals, including pad thai and bolognese sauce.

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We were surprised to find a ton of copycat recipes online, even for specific restaurant foods, from websites like Taste of Home, and we ended up making our own version of several restaurant favorites that we liked much better than the restaurant version. And, as a bonus, we’ve been able to use healthier organic ingredients to make them — and still spend less than we would going out.

Recreating these meals at home has made us a lot less likely to go out to eat, and since we don’t have to drive to the restaurants and wait to place our orders, it actually takes less time in many cases to just cook and eat the meals than it would to visit the restaurant. We’ve essentially given up on going out for Thai, Italian, and about four other different places we used to visit almost every month. And even after accounting for ingredients, this has saved us over $150 monthly.

Cooking restaurant meals at home may be easier than you think

Before we got started on our copycat restaurant project, I always assumed making stuff like pad thai would be complicated. But I was surprised to find out that really isn’t the case at all.

If you’re spending a lot on dining out, why not look up some of your favorite restaurant meals and give cooking them at home a try? You may be surprised to find there’s a lot less to it than you think, and that you end up liking your version better just like we did. You could end up with more money in your bank account and healthier meals on the table, which is a huge win-win.

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