How far would you go to save a little extra cash?
Cathy Erway gave up eating at restaurants for two years and saved more than $7,000 in the process.
When she decided to stop eating at restaurants a few years ago, Erway was earning around $27,500 a year and spending $725 for her portion of rent in a shared New York City apartment. When she realized she was spending $400 a month eating out, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
“It boggles my mind how much I was spending,” Erway told Forbes. “The status quo was going out to eat. That was everybody’s MO in the office. It wasn’t part of the culture to cook. I wanted to see how much that could affect my financial situation.”
— Cathy Erway (@cathyerway) March 10, 2017
She said her “a-ha” moment came when she was eating burgers and drinking overpriced beer at a beer garden in Brooklyn. She stopped eating out and taught herself how to cook anything and everything she used to order from restaurants, including sushi.
Erway chronicled this money-saving experiment on her blog Not Eating Out in New York. She’s since written the book “The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove” about her experiences.
At the end of every blog post, Erway was transparent about exactly how much she spent on each meal. She listed out the cost per ingredient and shared the total cost for the meal.
She estimated that she spent roughly $25 a week on groceries (cooking for herself). Erway said she was able to get away with spending so little because she got more creative with cooking—she ate all the random stuff in the back of the fridge and the pantry.
Eventually, she was able to convince her friends that staying in to cook was cool, too.
“Instead of hanging out with your girlfriends and going to the next trendy restaurant, have them over for some snacks and wine at your place,” Erway said. “It is a really infectious thing.”
So, how far would you go to save a little extra money? Would you stop eating out entirely?