Should You Spend Less at Restaurants Due to Inflation? 45% of Consumers Are

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  • Inflation is forcing a lot of people to change their spending habits.
  • If money is tight, restaurant meals are an easy expense to cut.

It may be time to start hitting the supermarket more often.

If you're tired of getting a sky-high credit card bill every month, you're no doubt in good company. Inflation is costing consumers a lot of money, to the point where many have had no choice but to cut back on spending.

In fact, 45% of consumers have tried to reduce their spending on restaurant purchases over the past six months, according to a recent report by the National Research Group. The question is: Is it time for you to do the same?

The problem with restaurants

Dining at restaurants is fun and convenient. The only problem is that you'll generally spend way more on a restaurant meal than on a meal you can prepare in your own kitchen. And so if money has gotten tight, cutting back on restaurants is an option worth considering.

Let's imagine you dine out three times a week and spend $30 each time you do, for a total of $90 per week. Chances are, you can cook yourself comparable meals at home for one-third of that total, thereby saving yourself $60 on a weekly basis.

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Some people may be reluctant to give up restaurant meals, or even cut back. If that's how you feel, ask yourself why scaling back on restaurant purchases is so hard. Is it that you hate to cook? Do you love the social aspect of dining with friends? Do you enjoy sampling different cuisines?

All of these are valid reasons to love restaurants. But they're also things you can address in the course of spending less.

Alternatives to consider

Let's say you're not a fan of cooking. You could sign up for a meal kit service that may be more expensive than buying groceries at the supermarket, but that's apt to be a lot less expensive than dining out frequently.

Another option is to look up easy meals with minimal prep online and simply buy your own ingredients at the grocery store. But if you'd rather go the meal kit route, that's a reasonable compromise.

If you love dining at restaurants because it's an opportunity for socializing, start cooking with friends. Invite people over to collaborate in your kitchen, or arrange rotating potluck dinners that you and your friends all contribute to and take turns hosting.

Finally, if you love trying different cuisines, get more adventurous in the kitchen. Google different recipes and try your hand at them. And if you're nervous to go it alone, find a friend who's a more confident cook and enlist their help.

It could pay to cut back

If you're doing just fine financially and love dining out, then there's probably no reason to stop. But if your bills have become unmanageable in the wake of inflation, then it may be time to rethink your dining habits -- at least until living costs start to come back down or your income gets a nice boost.

Dining at restaurants may be a fun experience, but it's not one that should drive you into debt. If that's the reality you're facing, you may need to cut back temporarily until your financial circumstances change.

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