Eating Out vs. Eating In: Refocusing

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The following is a guest post from Katie Hostetter of Frugal Femina. If you are new to our series about eating out, read more here.

Katie at GraduationKatie and her friend Beth at graduation

Two years ago, I got the itch to go to nursing school. Even though I had a college degree in a field I loved, I could not get nursing school out of my head. Somehow, everything fell into place for me to go. {Who am I kidding? I know Who orchestrated that whole scenario.} I signed up for my prerequisites at the last possible moment, and I finished them a semester earlier than I had hoped. So I asked the school if I could apply for the fall semester even though the deadline had passed. They told me I could, but there was only one spot left.

Well, I got that one spot, and I got to go for free. Mileage, uniforms, books, classes, daycare, all expenses paid! I had dreams of going to nursing school, keeping the house clean, fixing home-cooked meals, spending every possible moment with my kiddo, being a Mamavation Mom, reading the Bible in 90 days. I put a lot on my plate! That didn’t last for long. The last semester of school, I pretty much gave up on everything. I told my husband, Xon, that I couldn’t be responsible for paying the bills anymore, I couldn’t clean the house, I couldn’t cook. So for the last 3 months of school, we ate out for virtually every meal. As in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. And boy, did it take a toll on our budget!

I look back on our bank statement and shudder. $21.06, $18.80, $17.28. It’s not cheap to eat out with a family of three! We went from paying $50 a week on groceries to sometimes paying $50 a day. Ouch! I worked midnights for my practicum and stayed up during the day with our toddler, Bradley. So if I wanted a Starbucks coffee, I got a Starbucks coffee, dangit! We did not do a good job of paying the bills, but I didn’t have enough energy to do anything about it. It took a toll on our health, our finances, our relationship. It was a whole heap of mess there for a little while! All we wanted was to get to graduation and have a minute to refocus, to regroup.

Well, thankfully I did graduate, and we are reestablishing order! I look back and see ways I could have made life a lot easier. I should have:

  • Used coupons at restaurants when we needed to eat out. lists all kinds of places for free meals.
  • Stocked up on easy meals at the grocery. I post Kroger deals every week. I could have used them to buy some fix-it-and-forget-it type meals.
  • Bought groceries online. offers free shipping, and if you sign up for a new account, you get a $10 credit after you spend $50.
  • Asked friends/family/church members to help. They would have been more than happy to make an extra meal here or there…If they had known I needed help.

I didn’t do any of those things, but I did graduate this past weekend! So now I’m ready to get back on track with menu planning, grocery shopping, and all of the fun things I did in my pre-nursing school life.

Have you gotten off track with grocery shopping and menu planning? What did you do to refocus and regroup?

Katie Hostetter lives on a farm in Kentucky with her husband and toddler. She shares tips on bargain shopping, healthy living, kid activities, menu planning, and other adventures at Frugal Femina. Now that she has graduated, you’ll see her around much more on Twitter and Facebook.

Linked to Frugal Fridays on Life As Mom and Mrs. Moneysaver


  1. Betsy says

    I so appreciate the honesty here. Sometimes I feel very inadequate when I read about the admirable meal planning, coupon matching, and frugal living you gals are accomplishing. The truth is….reality does jump in there. I teach full time (at work by 6:30 and rarely home before 5), my husband works 5 days and 2 nights a week, 2 busy sons–one in college, one in highschool. Some weeks I have a menu and get it all done (with lots of prep on the weekends). Other weeks, we eat a few PBJs and eat out. Some weeks I do coupon match ups and make it to the store, some weeks I never make it to the grocery and rarely open my well stocked pantry, some weeks I grab the coupons approaching expiration and pray those things are on sale.
    Two bits of advice for dealing with these realities—preplanning DOES help & forgive yourself!!

  2. says

    Argh. I’m so behind with planning and shopping with coupons. I MUST get back on the train.

    Thanks for the encouraging post!

  3. says

    You list a lot of great resources and ideas!! Thanks!

    And don’t be so hard on yourself… it sounds as though your experience taught you a lot more than just what you learned in nursing school. And now you’re helping others learn, too.

    PS: You can always read through the Bible in 90 Days with us beginning July 5. :)

  4. Linda says

    I appreciate your honesty too. It helps to know that we’re not alone at times when we fall short. You have good suggestions in the list of things you could have done. I still need to check out Thanks for your post, and congratulations!
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..Fish Sticks =-.

  5. Amy @ Finer Things says

    Yay! So glad you’re done with school. Your “lessons learned” will certainly be great blogging fodder for the next few weeks/months! :)

  6. happymom says

    Maybe all of you do this already, but when I cook a meal I try to make enough to use as leftovers. Not always an easy task when you cook for 8 people! when I make my meal plans for the week, I choose the two or three craziest days and mark those for leftovers. I just make sure I will have time the day or two before to make the meal and plan to make one that I know will have enough leftovers to feed us again.

  7. says

    Sorry I didn’t catch that you referenced me earlier! I am just now catching up to my reader. Thanks so much!

    I have to admit, even though we have easy to fix meals in our freezer we sometimes fall into a similar rut. We don’t use the cash system for anything other than eating out and it has definitely helped over the last two months. (Well, along with the freezer cooking, of course!)
    .-= Tricia (Once A Month Mom)´s last blog ..Top Ten Tuesday: Recipes for Memorial Day Weekend =-.

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