Married and Starting Out

Married and starting out features newly married couples sharing their experience as they combine finances, lifestyle and in-laws.

Rather than Eating Out, Try Eating In!

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As summer always does, it seems to have flown by again. In September, it is always easy to think we are going through a cold snap and it will pass, leaving us with glorious summer again. By October I think we can move past the denial and begin looking forward to wrapping up warmly and having some peaceful evenings by the proverbial fire. October is usually a bad month for us financially.

Every year, after November's credit card bill, I always say that we are going to book our flights for the holidays extra early to take advantage of the lower fares earlier in the year. Somehow it never quite works out that way. We never know what our work schedules will be and how much time we will be able to take off. As a result, we usually pay the top dollar, 'waited-way-too-long-to-book' price and we're cash-strapped until the New Year (without even buying a single Christmas present yet!).

As our travel expenses over the next few months will be so much higher than usual, we have to scale back on other areas. One of the first to go, sadly, is eating out. My husband and I love to eat out-- whether it's with friends or by ourselves; whether it's getting dressed up to eat somewhere fancy, or just eating tacos at a hole in the wall. Any way is perfectly okay with us. As I work from home, I am often climbing the walls when my husband comes in from work. Eating out gives us a break from work, from being in our apartment, and allows us catch up in a different setting. (It also saves me from cooking and doing the washing up!)

While being on a budget could mean that we sit at home and eat canned baked beans, I use it as an excuse to have some cozy meals at home with my hubby. In some ways it is even nicer than going out. Who wants to battle the elements to get a meal? There is something so reassuring about coming back from work to a toasty warm house and eating some home-cooked food.

As our reason for staying in is to save money, I make the tastiest, low-cost meals that I can. My favorite cost-saving tips are:

  • If something can be made from scratch, I will make it that way. For example, it is far cheaper to buy ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, and eggs than to buy a box of cake mix (and you get less of the unhealthy preservatives and flavorings).
  • Rather than buying cans of fruit, vegetables, and beans, I buy fresh fruit and vegetables and dried beans. They may take a little longer to prepare, but you are maximizing the nutrients from the fresh ingredients and saving money in the process. (I soak the beans overnight so by morning I can use them the same way as canned beans for a fraction of the price.)
  • I buy cheaper cuts of meat and marinate or braise them. A skirt steak or a flank steak is cheaper than a rib eye, but just as flavorful and tender if prepared the right way. Large, less expensive cuts of meat, such as pork shoulder, can be cooked in a slow cooker. Often these marinades do not involve more than combining a liquid and some spices, which you can pour over the meat before you head to work, leaving you to come home to a quick and easy meal to prepare.

When we first had to stick to our budget, all we could think about was the fun we were missing. After a couple of months, we have begun to see more and more positives. We look forward to spending time together with a meal cooked by us at home and then cuddling up for some television time or a board game. Try it, you might just surprise yourself with the fun you can have while saving money. (I can't help you on the washing up though!)

 Related Links:

How to Live on a Budget

 How to Save Money When Buying Groceries for Two

Labor Day Resolutions

Healthy and Inexpensive Meals

Vienna Nowell

Vienna currently resides in New York City, but is originally from London. She is a contributing writer under Married & Starting Out. She and her husband are recently married and they are contemplating taking the big step of buying their first home.  Still working their way through the processes of buying an apartment, she and her husband are learning as they go.  Vienna also writes a food blog, www.TinyTestKitchen.com, and is a freelance writer, chef and food stylist.  She is looking forward to sharing her experiences and any tips she picks up along the way during their house buying endeavor. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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