1. Lower your expectations
In my head, I'm some sort of Martha Stewart goddess who is capable of doing all the things while also cooking a delicious, gourmet meal for my husband each night. Ha! The reality is that I'm almost always too wiped and over food by the time that I get home from a big grocery store or Costco trip that takeout sounds mighty appealing.
So I simply gave up the ghost and started buying Costco frozen pizzas. They just sit in our deep freeze just waiting for the moment the lazies strike. I am not going to pretend that they're healthy, but I'm not going to pretend that I was going to order an organic tofu and quinoa veggie bowl either. Each $2.50 pizza consumed easily saves us $20 in takeout. Maybe pizza isn't your jam, but I'm sure that there's a frozen convenience food that is. As long as it isn't an every night occurrence, you have my permission to indulge when the lazies strike.
2. Eat trash meals
Do you ever have a random assortment of foodstuffs in your fridge that are on the brink of crossing over to the other side? There's no connection or rhyme and reason to them, so you think you can't really make a meal out of one cheese enchilada, two slices of quiche, and a bowl of mixed olives. I'd like to let you in on a little secret: make a big salad and serve it with your (soon-to-be) trash foods and it feels like a party.
I don't know why, but we get super excited in our house over this smorgasboard. Maybe it's the fact that there's so little leftover that it feels like you scored a killer deal at a garage sale when you get to eat the last bit of zucchini. Perhaps it's the fact that we are freaks who get really excited over big bowls of salad. Either way, eating trash food is an excellent way to clean out your fridge and avoid the takeout monster.
3. Use cash only
I used to be super obsessed with credit card points. It was SO EXCITING to be able to get stuff for "free" just based on the amount of money that I was going to be spending anyway. Then I read these two books and all was ruined:
Some people have the ability to automatically regulate their spending and are naturally super frugal. These are the Mr. Money Mustaches and Frugalwoods of the world. I am not these people. You probably aren't either.
The rest of us are going to be prone to overspending if we use a credit card because it feels like free money... even if you religiously pay off your credit card every month.
A few months ago, my husband and I started using cash for our eating out budget. Can I let you in on a little secret without revealing the dollar amounts because it's shocking and truly embarrassing? We've probably lowered the amount that we spend by a third. And we've both raved about how happy we are with this arrangement! We don't feel deprived because we can still go for a cheap lunch sushi date once a week or eat out at a somewhat nicer place if we wanted to every other week. And some weeks we don't eat out at all! It's shocking. Truly shocking, I tell ya.