If you have been following the frugal blog for a while, then you know how often I talk about cooking at home instead of eating out. It is a struggle to do, I know. I often want to go out because I am tired or want a change. The kids love to eat out, too, since for them it is an adventure, so I try to keep reminding ourselves about how much more it costs.
I usually equate the eating out in terms of hours that I or my husband have to work. Because I work as a freelancer, this is actually pretty accurate. If we had an additional expense to our budget, then I need to put in more hours to pay for it.
My kids on the other hand, at least the oldest, has started to equate the cost of eating out to other things that he might like to have instead. He might ask what the difference in the cost of something out versus in. For example, we can make a large pizza for less than three dollars. If we eat that same size pizza out plus add in the costs of drinks, we can spend anywhere from $20-$50 for our larger family, depending on the place, whether a tip is expected, etc.
He will take that difference and mentally calculate how many books, video games, toys, activities, etc., that the same cost might cover. We might, as a family, decide to buy to family DVD instead and still have saved the other half of the cost of eating out.
Finally, if that isn’t enough, consider the times that you have eaten out recently verses the ones when you have stayed home.
For us, eating out usually means trying to get three wiggly kids to sit still long enough to let us, the adults, finish eating our dinner. Often the distractions and corrections of acting well in public prevent any kind of family intimacy where the kids feel free to share their thoughts and feelings and we have the time to listen. Despite the McDonald’s commercials, for us, the good stuff usually happens at home.