The skyrocketing cost of eating out

According to recent studies, more and more people are eating out. reports that for the first time in recorded history, Americans are spending more at bars and restaurants ($54.857 billion) than they are on groceries ($52.502 billion). There are a variety of reasons for this including over- booked schedules, longer work hours, less time to prepare meals, mouth-watering fast food advertisements and the undisputed convenience and plethora of options available on just about every city corner.

Americans love to eat out; Zagat surveyors estimate the national average is 4.5 times per week. Depending where you go, it can add up quickly. Be prepared to count the cost of spending more per meal and taking in more salt, sugar and fat than you’re probably aware of. It’s one thing to cover the cost of the meal and it’s another thing to cover the long-term, exorbitant costs associated with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Here are some healthy tips to help you buy less burgers and more groceries.

  • Plan your meals in advance
    If you’re hungry and trying to decide what to eat, you’re probably going to give into the path of least resistance and turn in to the nearest drive-thru. Create a plan and do your grocery shopping before the work week begins and you’ll be more likely to enjoy more home-cooked and healthy meals.

  • Take turns
    Enlist the help of able-bodied people in your household — both young and old. Most will welcome an opportunity to help. Assign them a meal to prepare on a particular day of the week.

  • Keep a list of easy go-to meals handy
    Sometimes the hardest part of cooking at home is maintaining variety. Keep track of easy things you’ve made in the past and refer to it often.

  • Learn to love leftovers
    Love them or hate them? Some meals (i.e. homemade soup) actually taste better the next day. Other things are good for a day or so, and then you’re ready to move on. Last night’s dinner usually makes for a fabulous lunch or two.

  • Fantastic frozen
    Fresh is always better than frozen, but frozen certainly works in a pinch. Always keep a few standby meals in your freezer for those evenings you’re running late and/or on empty.
  • Pack your lunch
    You’ll have access to food when you’re hungry. You’ll free up time to go for a walk or run some errands and you’ll have more energy in the late afternoon if you don’t eat a heavy meal.

  • Beach body season is just around the corner.
    This point needs no further clarification!

  • Shop strategically
    Always have the right ingredients to make fresh home-cooked meals with the Our Groceries app. It’s a free application that allows you to share your grocery list with family members so you don’t have to do all the shopping. Sometimes it requires all hands on deck to make sure you have what you need, when you need it.

  • Use your crockpot
    It doesn’t take long to prepare a meal before leaving the house in the morning and there’s nothing like coming home to the smell of dinner already cooked.

  • Treat yourself once a week
    Limit eating out to once a week. It will be good for your wallet and your waistline.


Travis Credit Union cares about the financial and physical well-being of our members, our employees and the communities we serve. That’s one reason we’re big supporters of the annual Credit Union SACTOWN Run. If you missed it April 2, be sure to save the date and join us next year. Proceeds from this event support the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a nonprofit international organization that helps treat millions of children at 170 hospitals across the U.S. and Canada. We’re all in this together!



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