We grew up eating out and we’ve continued to justify it; until today.

As a kid I remember going “out” to eat at Bike’s Burger Bar. “Out” because we ate in the pickup. The place had maybe two or three tables. I don’t remember because I didn’t pick up the tab but I’m told hamburgers were $.19 and fries were $.10. Speaking of eating in cars, we also went to A&W for a Baby Burger and of course, root beer. With the tray of food hanging on our 1964 Mustang’s unsteady window my sister and I ate in the back seat.

Later on we moved up to King’s restaurant where, if we were good, we were allowed to place our order. Each booth had a phone and you just lifted the receiver and called in whatever you wanted. A sundae was a treat and eating out was a pretty big deal.

Today all those places are long gone. We still eat in the car but unfortunately the car is usually in motion. We drive through everywhere from McDonalds to Panera. We eat at casual sit-downs like Applebees and Chili’s and steakhouses like Outback and Longhorn. The variety of food is broader too.

Back in the day you ate burgers, pizza, chicken or steak. Today we head out for Sushi and Mexican nearly as often as we have Phillies or Barbeque. There are places that only make noodles or hot dogs or rice bowls. It’s no wonder that we never get tired of eating out. And we certainly never get tired of the convenience.

We tell ourselves we’re just too busy to cook something. We don’t plan well enough or we’re just too tired to make a meal. The food is relatively cheap and coupons come regularly in the mail and through our phones. It all conspires together and we find ourselves being served or taking home a bag of something to eat in our underused kitchen. The telling part though is our bank statement.

Using a debit card ensures that the wreckage of where the money goes is clear. A recent review shows nearly 85% of my purchases were at restaurants. 85%! That’s just nuts if you consider that relatively inexpensive quarter pound burger you paid about $5 for is made up of about $1.20 of food. If I could eat for about one fourth of what I currently do I’d be all in on that idea. So, this Thursday, I’ve resolved to eat out only once a week.

Will this take planning? It absolutely will. Will it take additional time? No doubt about it. Will it save me a boatload of cash? You bet! I’m hoping it will also make us pause as we sit down for a meal. I hope it will provide a bit of a creative endeavor in the meal’s preparation. I also hope it will move us toward eating a more healthy diet if for no other reason than we don’t own a deep fat fryer, a soft-serve ice cream machine or soda fountain!

I don’t undertake this with any false pretenses, it will be a major paradigm shift for us but I think it’s necessary. I think it’s one that, over time, will be good. Only time will tell.

So here’s another leap off a cliff not knowing if there’s a net or how things will go. All I know is a line has to be drawn in the sand so I’ve done it. I hope my experience or my foolishness inspires you. If someone you know might benefit from this too, please share it with them.

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