10 Tips for Quitting the Fast Food Habit

It's possible you don't eat out often. But if you're like most of us, the ease and convenience of fast food and eating out lures you into eating out more than you'd like. Eating out is hard on a budget, and also hard on your body.

Eating out is tempting. It's easy and it tastes good, so the pull to eat out can be strong. Here are ten tips for eating healthier fare.

1. Monitor yourself for a month. How often do you eat out? How much are you spending? The results may shock you. Once you know how much you're eating out, you can set a goal to reduce eating out. You can start small -- try eating out one less time per week for a month.

2. Exchange dinner out for a fun activity. Do you go out every weekend for dinner and drinks? What if you exchanged one of those and did a fun activity instead -- go on a hike, ride bikes, watch a movie at home, go to the park and bring a homemade picnic. You'll make good memories, save money, AND likely consume fewer calories.

3. Set up a budget for eating out and stick to it. You don't have to cut your eating out budget completely. Try cutting out a little bit and see how it works. Keep slowly cutting back until you reach a point where you are happy with how often you eat out.

4. Bring lunch to work. One of the easiest ways to cut down on eating out is to purchase some simple meals you can take to work. Eating out at lunch can get expensive. Bring easy items -- homemade sandwich, apple or other fruit, string cheese, baby carrots; even prepackaged soups or stews can be better for you than eating out, and it is certainly cheaper.

5. Find a 'make a meal' in your area. This option is more expensive than making meals in your home from scratch, but with this option, you get the convenience factor (you make several meals all at once, with ingredients provided for you) combined with the healthy aspect. And it's cheaper than eating out.

6. Plan meals ahead of time. Setting up a menu takes a little extra time up front, but it saves time in the long run. Choose several easy recipes that are family favorites, print out a calendar with the meals listed on each day, purchase the food you will need, and then follow the plan.

7. When you cook, make extra. Double the recipe and put half in the freezer for another meal. Or, save part of the meal for lunch the next day. This results in less eating out for less work!

8. Choose recipes that are full of herbs, spices, and colorful vegetables. Make recipes that taste good, and you'll be more likely to crave homemade food rather than fast food and eating out. Experiment. Enjoy the delicious meals you prepare.

9. Exercise. If you set up a regular exercise schedule, you will have more energy (but not for the first couple of weeks -- push through those weeks and then evaluate your energy level). Use that energy to make delicious food. Also, if you treat your body well by exercising, it's likely that you won't want to put fast food into your body anymore.

10. Make changes gradually. You can totally overhaul your eating habits if you do it one change at a time.


East of Eden said...

I find too that planning meals witha cook book and a calendar is a very effective way to not eat out. When I plan meals, and I always make double, so we can have leftovers, I make a corresponding shopping list. I only get what is on the list--I can't believe how much time and money I've saved this way.

Another thing we do is when we have to go to Santa Fe, we eat before our outing so we're not tempted to stop somewhere in town and eat.

Holli Jo said...

Those are some great ideas! I make a grocery list, but it's really hard for me to stick to it. I'm trying to get better at it, though.

Abbie Nelson said...

I like to plan meals too! Because I do the budget in the family, and the meals...I will sit down with the grocery store sale page, and my calendar. I plan out what to spend, and where to spend it.
I also curb my husband's lunch budget by sneaking out a serving for lunch for him the next day, BEFORE serving dinner. It's also a sneaky way for me to help with his portion control. :)
We still eat out once a week or so, but it's usually to get the family together for lunch, or grabbing some papa murphy's on a less-than-stellar day. :)