For seven years I have been the mother of strict as far as what comes into our house for snacks and hydration. The past three or four weeks I have realized more and more how much we need to eat in. Not only is the cost of food rising, but the cost of the gas to get to the food is rising.
The first four years of our marriage we ate at home on a $150/month budget religiously. When we moved to California we had more money than we knew what to do with and more crowded living conditions so much so that we made Kianti's our favorite dinner spot and money hoarder. When we moved back to Texas we continued that trend.
Our barreling car race of seeing how much we can spend eating out slowed down at the pace of a snail from eating out at elaborate places, to eating out at inexpensive places, to eating out at cheap places, to sharing a meal and only drinking water at cheap places, to eating more and more at home, until three years later I finally feel like we are starting to get some balance back.
One of the main reasons for this last baby step is I have started to buy drinks. When we go out if it's on a weekend we'll normally get one iced tea for Brando and I to share, and water for the boys. Somehow that iced tea completes the meal and makes spending the money to eat out seem worth it. Way back when I used to make iced tea at home, but at the moment that takes up too much time and is way too much of a pain in the butt so I've been buying Sweet Leaf Tea. I've also been buying crackers. Lots of yogurts. Occasionally chips and dip. Juice coolers. Things I've never, ever boughten before and certainly not on a regular basis. Of course all healthy and organic still : ) I won't deny my true roots, but snacks nonetheless.
A lot of these items tend to be on the expensive side because of what I'm buying. I get around that by buying whatever is on sale that week. That way I get to try something new and it's usually less expensive than the generic brand would be at my local grocery store. Oh, and I've been buying my meat at Costco to grill at the pool - usually healthy, super inexpensive, and tons of it.
I've actually been happy eating at home. The first time I realized that was last week when I didn't have money to grocery shop at the beginning of the week like I normally do and we had to do without the snacks and major source of protein that enables us to spend the evening at the pool grilling our dinners. Boy did we miss it. We pulled together a last minute grill out with a few friends last night despite having hardly anything, then this week I made up for it a little with yogurt smoothie drinks and ice cream cones to round out the deal. Slowly but surely we're making our way to a consistent healthy habit of eating at home and enjoying eating out once or twice on the weekends.