Eating Out and Ways to Combat this Expensive Habit

I would say the vast majority of my spending goes to the restaurant industry. There are three main reasons for this. Some people call them “meals.”

  1. Breakfast
  2. Lunch
  3. Dinner

Let’s dissect these further.


Like most people the morning time in our house is a whirl wind. Showers, getting the kids up, fed and out, checking to make sure homework is done, checking to make sure nothing is due to the school, daycare, or the PTA, looking at the calendar to see what is going on after work, making sure I have my keys so I don’t lock myself out of the house AGAIN… it’s a wild time. 99% of the time I neglect my nutrition needs.

I’m using the term “nutrition” here lightly.

After dropping the kids off, it’s time for coffee and something quick to eat. This could be one of a few things: trail mix, a donut or pastry, a protein bar, or a couple of hard-boiled eggs. This wholly depends on how healthy I feel like being. Since the coffee is $1, this usually runs under $5. That’s roughly $25 per week.

Lunch Time!!

I work in a pretty cool town. It wasn’t always as bustling as it is now. 

About 10 years ago, I started working in an office in a place that had a few restaurants. Your typical pizza place or two, Chinese, a couple of delis and bagel places, and a handful of sit-down restaurants. Nothing was too expensive, and of course you could always get a slice of pizza and a drink for $5-7.

Over the last 10 years the town went through a major revitalization. Condos and apartment buildings were built, business moved in and more restaurants opened. All of this is great for the town, and horrible for my wallet. 

On any given day I can choose between Sushi, Barbecue, Cuban, Colombian, Peruvian, an Italian Deli, Poke Bowls, Oysters, really good bar/American food, a German deli, Bagels, Chinese, Upscale restaurants, a place that specializes in meatballs, fast food, pizza, burgers, and the list goes on. New places open up every day, and yes, there is more than one sushi place. In the nice weather, I can even go eat some seafood on the water.

A responsible adult would either:

  1. Bring lunch, or
  2. Choose inexpensive lunch places (ie pizza, bagels, Chinese, and the aforementioned German deli)

I do neither of these things. Instead, I often go for lunches that cost between $10 and $50. (Oysters get pricey and are a huge weakness.)

I’ll start the week off saying, “OK, I am definitely going to bring my lunch this week.”

Bitmoji image of cartoon woman holding a pie with the word “lies” written on it. Above the image are the words “freshly baked”.

Monday: Forget lunch and go to lunch on my own. I usually sit at one of the many bar-restaurants in town. This can range from $14-$30, depending on what I order. 

Tuesday: Remember lunch and a co-worker asks if I want to go to lunch. I rationalize that I can eat the lunch the next day. 75% of the time this is sushi or a Colombian place with the best food. Either place is usually around $15.

Wednesday: Payday! I’ll inevitably go to lunch with a few people, usually to a BBQ place that has been in town since the beginning. This can be as low as $10 and that isn’t horrible, but it still adds up.

Thursday: I have that lunch in the fridge from Tuesday, but is it really any good now? I’ll just go to lunch. $20

Friday: A different co-worker wants to go to lunch. Why fight at this point? The week is a waste. $15

On average I’m spending $15-20 per day, that’s $75-100 down the tube, plus the wasted lunch that I attempted to bring. That’s weekly.

I have been aware of this for some time and have made an effort to change. I now bring soup, leftovers from the night before, or I’ll drink a meal replacement shake. This doesn’t happen every day, and I still eat out a majority of the week. When I DO bring lunch, I end up taking a walk in town, stopping at a shop or the dollar store and spending money anyway.  

All of this eating out has done a number on my waist line, but that’s an entirely different blog post.


After picking up the kids and getting home, it’s 6:00 o’clock at night. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to make dinner. We rotate between a few go-to dinners:

  1. A rotisserie chicken from the supermarket paired with fruits and vegetables we have at home.
  2. Hotdogs or frozen chicken nuggets paired with apple sauce. On nights like these the adults in the house don’t really eat or will grab cereal.
  3. Frozen meatballs over pasta or rice with a fruit and vegetable side.
  4. Ordering in or going out. 

Options 1-3 are really not an issue. I’d like a more diverse menu, but again, that’s an entirely different blog post.

Ordering out can get out of hand and can often come to $50. At the low end, we’ll get a pizza for $20. I’d like to say this happens once a week, but it’s closer to 2-3 times a week. 

The Plan

Obviously, I could be saving time and money, as well as reducing stress, by making a few simple changes. The holiday season has its own expenses and stress, so here are the things I will be implementing over the next few weeks. (You read it here first!)

  • Meal planning. By making dinners and lunches on Sunday before the week even starts, I can save time in the morning and at night and eliminate the need to order from restaurants. I’ll save money each week and add variety to my family’s diet. I may even shed some pounds!

This is easy to write. Simple – Meal Planning! It’s the new hot buzzword, it’s the Pinterest mom’s best friend! I am not a Pinterest mom. I will most definitely write a post chronicling my meal planning try.

Bitmoji with “World’s Best Tryer” written over cartoon image of woman.
  • Make coffee or tea at home and bring K-cups to work.

This will save me $1 a day. Less since I still need to buy the coffee to make. PLUS I get every 7th coffee free. I’m not convinced it’s worth it. I’ll get back to you on that.

  • Boil my own damn eggs. I guess this falls under meal planning. 
  • Use credit card points to buy gift cards to places I like to eat. This way when I do feel like going out, I have the card to pay for it.

If my plan to stop spending so much works, I won’t have enough points to do this for very long. Maybe it will make for a good transition.

Let me know your favorite make ahead meals. Bonus points for food my kids will love!!

Keep an eye out for my OH MY GOD I’M GOING THROUGH WITHDRAWAL post.


Here’s the deal

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Confessions of a spendthrift trying to change.

Here’s the situation. I’m 39 years old, I have 3 darling littles, a full-time job, a husband with a full-time job, and a spending problem. According to www.bestplaces.net we live in a county with a higher average cost of living than New York State and the United States. Between a mortgage, childcare, and food costs, we are barely scraping by. 

Does the knowledge that we are slowly (quickly) racking up debt stop me from spending money frivolously? Heck no!!

Well, friends, that is going to change! So buckle up and join me for the ride of my life. I’ll be sharing my adventure into spending less and living more on this new and exciting blog: Shopping Problems!

The Great Lularoe Craze of 2016

Let me paint you a picture.

It was 2016. I was in the last weeks of a nine month long maternity leave. I had spent a lot of time caring for my newborn twins and very little time wearing anything that resembled work clothes. I needed something that was comfortable but also work worthy. Something that would fit on the new shape that I found my body in.

Enter LulaRoe.

A brand that promised comfortable, fashionable clothes. All you had to do was RACE for the style you wanted, in the pattern you wanted. Thousands of woman (and some men) were on Facebook ready to SELL YOU ALL THE LEGGINGS and dresses and skirts and tops.

Those leggings, though.

That’s how they sucked you in. It was an epidemic. “Try our buttery soft leggings,” they said.

Wear these crazy patterns, and these other crazy patterns, and what’s that? You want BLACK leggings.

Photo of a Woman Laughing Wearing Black Top
Woman laughing at your naiveté.


That was the catch. These were leggings you MUST have, but the patterns and colors were completely random. Sellers couldn’t pick which patterns they wanted to sell. They picked size and quantity and the company sent whatever the heck they pleased.

Some of the patterns were nice. Some, though, were HIDEOUS. Online communities popped up for the sole purpose of making fun of the patterns.

So in order to sell them, sellers would throw them all on facebook and buyers would rush to type “SOLD” before the next buyer. Fastest fingers won. It was MADNESS.

I know what you’re thinking: Melissa, what does this have to do with work clothes? You said you needed work clothes.

Lularoe also sold dresses, skirts, and shirts. That’s where the work clothes came in. All of the clothes were stretchy and most were loose fitting. One skirt in particular caught my eye. I had been invited to an online sale. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a nice conservative pencil skirt. That’s all I needed. I don’t wear leggings. That’s absurd.

It was like a drug.

The first time I typed “SOLD” underneath an item and WON THAT ITEM I got a little high. I needed more. I started seeking out “Mega Parties” where multiple sellers worked together. The more inventory, the better. I expanded into the dresses. T-shirt dresses, a-line dresses, pleats.

I tried the leggings. OMG.

Stripes, polka dots, unicorns, elephants, flowers, tie-dye. I stalked sales, looking for THAT pattern in MY size.

Packages kept coming. Multiple in a day. I needed shirts to go with skirts. I had to pattern match, IT WAS WILD.

I can’t even tell you how much I spent. I have no clue. I still wear a piece (or 2 or 3 or 4) of LuLaRoe’s polyester clothing every week. It’s my penance, I’ll wear it until it falls apart. Then, at least, it was worth it, right?

Was there a time in your life that you LOST YOUR MIND and bought all the things? Tell me about it!!

I Am a Target Junkie

Leopard and Peacock Lamps

I’m a Target Junkie

I’ve been trying to save money, stay on a budget (ok I haven’t actually created a budget yet), get my home in order, keep my job, make my family happy, look good in jeans, age gracefully, share more of my feelings, yada yada yada so on and so forth. 

Target keeps getting in my way of the money part.

What is it that makes this titan of retail so powerful? I cannot go in there and spend less than $100. I’ve tried. I really have. 

“Vitamins, all you need are vitamins. Get them and walk out.

Wait, pay first. Get the vitamins, pay for them and walk out. The pharmacy is right by the register, you don’t even need to go into the full store.

You could use a coffee, just get a small coffee. $3

Just take a look at the dollar section. Everything is so cute! Look at these socks! Metallic pencils, yes! I could put this sign at my desk: ‘Do Something Delightful Everyday.’ It’s so cute! Oh Oh! Storage baskets, this price is amazing! $13

OK we’re at the vitamin section. Good, get the vitamins, just what you need: Multi with Iron, B12, Biotin. Perfect. $30

Oh, look, Zinc vitamins will give me a beautiful complexion? Ok, why not. Let’s get out of here. $8

Shoot, we need bananas. Ok, I’ll just grab a few to tide us over until tomorrow. The grocery section is this way, no big deal, we can do this.

Look at these cute journals. Just looking, I don’t need a journal. Inspirational quotes! Wow, this could really help me get organized and motivated.

No, it’s just a journal. Walk away.

Wait, I DO NEED a 2020 Planner. This one is simple, not too expensive, oh wait, it’s so flimsy. Ok, I’ll just look at a few others. Inspirational quotes! $30

Just get to the bananas and get out of here!

Stop looking around. Get to the grocery section, get the bananas and get out of here. This is imperative. Move. Don’t stop. YOU DON’T NEED THAT MUG. $12

Here are the bananas, this bunch looks good. Six bananas, $0.50 each. Pretty much robbery, but ok, convenient. I’ll just throw some yogurt in there, too. I’m going to want a beer tonight, yup. That’s fine. I should probably get some tea, and these biscuits. Yes, ok, that’s it, let’s go. $28

Oh the frozen dinners are on sale! $15

What aisle is this? OK, I’ll just walk down the middle and then down to the registers. No big deal. I can do this. Straight to the registers. Keep going.

Hold up, is that a gold leopard lamp? On clearance? Holy schnikes, there’s a peacock, too!! $14

Get to the register NOW.”

The struggle is so very real and I’m not alone. There was a meme floating around the interwebs: “You don’t go to Target for what you need, you go to Target and Target tells you what you need.” I can go into virtually every other store and resist the urge to buy all the things (this is a lie, I have a shopping problem, but let’s pretend).

What is it about Target that has it thriving while other retail stores are failing? K-Mart and Sears have been closing stores all year, up to 100 of them by the end of 2019, including the K-Mart 10 minutes from my house. A.C. Moore (arts and crafts) is closing all its stores, with some being reopened as Michaels. Bed, Bath and Beyond closed or will be closing 60 stores in 2019.

I was having an oft repeated conversation with a woman about where to go for toys now that Toys-R-Us is closed. Side note: it’s coming back! She mentioned Target and super casually said it as if were a French company. Tarzhay. There was no hint of sarcasm, no fancy flourish. It has become such a staple in our shopping world, that even the fancy “joke” name has become the norm. 

According to an article on Inc.com, Target saw the trend of closing stores in 2017 and decided to take action. They leveraged the long view, built a brand, and essentially made their stores a destination. 

A destination: it’s like a mini-vacation each time you go. You get your caffeine fix, wander through the wide aisles, get lost in the rich fabrics, banana leaf baskets, and tasseled frames. No one bothers you as you make your third lap around the velvet pillows, touching each one just to make sure it’s as soft as the last time. Go ahead and flip through a best seller while you sip your tall, non-fat latte with caramel drizzle. Target won’t judge you. Target would never do that. 

When you leave 2 hours later and $300 lighter, you feel refreshed. You feel like you have just been to the spa, and the spa let you take home a stone sculpture and Egyptian cotton sheets.

Also, they’re open until 11:00pm.

How do you resist shopping when such a place exists? I’d like to say I can simply stop going there. In fact, my husband has banned me from ever stepping foot in there again after reading a rough draft of this article. It’s my go to for so many things, though. Birthday party: surely there will be a suitable option, plus they have a discount card section! Vitamins: they have the kind I like, and so many chewable options! Neighbor peeking through your window: the curtains are to die for!

It’s nearly impossible. 

This article and blog is in no way affiliated with Target, its subsidiaries, or anyone else, for that matter.