★ Money Challenge #22: No Eating/Drinking Out This Week

This is part of our weekly Money Challenge series. Be sure to check off any you’ve missed!

Every time I run out of coffee at home, I don't get around to buying a new bag of beans for weeks. For some stupid reason I think to myself, "A cup is cheaper than a whole bag." So I just keep buying a cup at a time rather than a bag. Yes, I'm that dumb sometimes. Most of you are already convinced that small expenses add up fast. But admit it, you could do better living this lesson out in your life. I get lazy and stop caring about how I spend my money at least once a month. I need reminders and I need to take action to get back on track. So let's put this idea to the test and see what results we can come up with.

Your challenge this week: Don't eat out (or drink out) until the weekend!

Take a moment to think through your weekly routine and where you are currently buying food/drinks. Now work out a game plan to curb any eating out this week and see if you can make it until Friday. If you can, we'll allow you to treat yourself over the weekend ;) Here are some ideas to get you going:

  • Instead of going out for drinks, invite your friends over for a potluck/BYOB.
  • Instead of $12/day for lunch, brown bag it!
  • Instead of $4/day for coffee, brew it at home.
  • Instead of delivery, put a pizza in the oven.

Tell us how it goes! Hopefully this challenge will carry into future weeks...Derek, Master of Challenges ***** PS: Curious to see how last week’s challenge went? Click here and scroll to the bottom.


Not only challenge accepted, but I've (accidentally) been doing this for 2 weeks already. Note: My goal had nothing to do with money. Rather, I started the keto diet after Easter (it's...hard), and it turned out to be incredibly difficult to find appropriate meals at restaurants. Money I've saved just on lunches: about $35-40 a week. Things I've learned:

  1. Meal prep is time and energy consuming, but worth it.
  2. The keto diet is hard...but
  3. It works. I'm down 12lbs in 2 weeks (8lbs in the first 4 days, now I've leveled off at about 2lbs a week)
  4. Packing a lunch is amazing for another reason....

It eliminates one more decision from my day. No more thinking about breakfast and lunch. I already have something lined up, and just eat it. Mentally, that feels amazing. - pete_mcpherson

This challenge I can nail! We don't eat out. Tips: Plan your meals out for the week. Grocery shop with a list. Make meals in advance if you can, or at least boils some eggs, make some muffins, precut veggies, for grab and go meals and snacks. Make extra at dinner to pack for lunch the next day. Use a crockpot to have meals waiting after a long day at work. Don't let yourself get too hungry, that's when you'll want to break down and eat out. Keep snacks with you at work, in the car, running errands. Drink lots of water. - AmyB

Challenge accepted! I already planned to do this, so this one's easy! We ate out a lot on our road trip a few weeks ago, and after that, I get tired of eating out. Plus with three kids, it's expensive - and with a toddler, it's disruptive. So we almost always eat at home, eating out only about once a month. Five tips for completing a challenge like this:

  • Be Prepared. Make sure you have all the supplies on hand for coffee and dinners at home, as well as for your "brown bag" lunch before the start of the week. Prep as much of it as you can over the weekend, and pack up your lunch the night before. If you need to defrost something, be sure to take it out of the freezer ahead of time. And make sure you have some ideas of things to make quickly if you encounter a busy night. Emergency frozen pizzas can keep you from ordering out on a crazy night!
  • Know yourself. If you don't mind eating PB&J every day all week, go for it! But if you're going to get sick of it by Wednesday and go buy lunch out, then you need to mix it up more. If one method of brown bagging doesn't cut it for you, try a different one! Options include sandwiches, leftovers from dinner, cooking up a big pot of chili/soup/stew on the weekend, or grilling some chicken to use in salads/sandwiches. Don't forget to bring snacks to work so you can avoid the mid-afternoon coffee/vending machine run
  • Pizza and a movie Fridays: Check out what we do every Friday with our homemade pizzas (so easy, even a 13 year old can make it - and he does!). Even the crust is from scratch. Since you're making it yourself, you can do whatever flavors and toppings your heart desires. I put a bunch of ideas in the post, including my favorite potato pizza (mashed potatoes, bacon, caramelized onions...)! Pair homemade pizza with homemade popcorn and a movie (Redbox/Netflix/library) and you have an awesome night
  • Stay Caffeinated: If you're a coffee person it can be tricky - I need both morning and afternoon coffee or I'm pretty useless. When you're looking for an inexpensive way to brew really good coffee at home/work, you'll want to invest in some supplies. Get a $30 french press from Target, and a $20 coffee grinder. Then get beans at BJ's/Costco and grind them fresh every morning. I actually have a french press at home and at work, so I can brew fresh coffee at work in the afternoons
  • Don't be boring. If you dread eating a brown bag lunch, or see not eating out as a sacrifice, you're going to stop pretty quickly. So use the challenge as a time to experiment! Try new recipes, mix it up, look online or ask your friends for some suggestions. Make room for some treats so that you look forward to your meals. Don't let it become a boring slog! - ChiefMomOfficer