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Our Team Didn’t Dine Out for the Entire Month of February… or Did We?

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woman holding brown kraft bag of five guys food

Another month means another team challenge! 👊

In case you missed our last post where we kicked off our monthly team challenges for 2020, we recently shared our experiences with drinking more water… 64 oz every day for 30 whole days to be exact.

And while many of us loved it so much and kept with it, this month brought us a whole new challenge.

Want to really challenge yourself this year?

Right now you can sign-up for our Financial Bootcamp! (It’s totally FREE!) We’ll help guide you to better daily habits and really beef up that savings account once and for all! Since it’s free, you really have nothing to lose.


What did we do in February, you ask?

hand holding a white plate with chicken and pasta on it

For the month of February, our entire team was challenged to a dining-in challenge. And yes, it proved to be just as intimidating and hard as it sounds. 😅 Basically, the goal for the entire month was to not eat out. Say what?!

Luckily, it’s the shortest month of the year 🤣 and we all did get one free-day pass for Valentine’s Day. ❤️ But since most of us on the team love to dine out or order delivery to our homes, this month was sure challenging. However, we all were really looking forward to one major perk of this challenge…

SAVING MONEY!

And you already know that here at Hip2Save, we’re all about keeping cash in our pockets. 🙌 Plus, there are many other great benefits to dining-in such as more family time and likely eating much healthier meals.

We’ve even created a FREE 30-Day Dining Out Challenge Tracker for you to try it out next month!


February started off rough with endless Super Bowl parties… but we managed to pull through!

two containers filled with food and condiments

“We picked up some of the delicious wings at Costco that you can bake at home and they’re such a great deal. Plus, I just batch cooked a bunch of dolmades, falafel, and magic green dressing. Yum!” – Jami 


“We are going to our friend’s house for a party so I made Lina’s pizza salad. The other couple ordered wings but I feel like we are still okay since we did not make the purchase!” – Ashley 


“I made a big salad yesterday, which always makes it easier to actually eat the vegetables when it’s already prepped. However, I also love Ashley’s new Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders recipe, so I think I’ll need to make those now too!” – Emily


“We stayed in for the Super Bowl. I focused on making comfort food, and enough to have leftovers to eat throughout the week. I made a big pot of our Hip2Keto chili – so good and so easy to make! And my fam also loves to devour jalapeno poppers so I made a few batches of those in the air fryer.” – Collin

And some of us really worked the system on Super Bowl Sunday…

someone grabbing slice of pizza next to salad

“If my uncle owns the pizzeria does it count? It’s basically just a family donation.” 😂 – Alana  


“I’ve received three text offers from various fast food places today – I’ve replied ‘STOP’ to all of them so I’m not tempted to eat out when I see a deal or Super Bowl offer.” – Chelsey 


Here were some of our failures and trials for this month:

burger and fries sitting in foil and brown bag on table

“This challenge was so much easier said than done! I definitely did not achieve 30 days of avoiding dining out since I had moments of weakness like an overdue dinner with all of my girlfriends and a greasy Sunday afternoon Uber Eats order made necessary by our too-much-fun Saturday night out. However, this challenge has made me so much more aware of the frequency I grab a bite to eat or coffee on the go.” – Emily 


“I have to be honest when a grandparent called and said they would watch all of the kiddos so my husband and I could have a date night out, this challenge did not play into my mind at all! My hubs and I went out and had a great time, with no regrets!” – Stacy 


“The hardest time for me was when we had to travel out of state for the weekend for a basketball tournament. Although we did eat the breakfast provided by the hotel, we had no choice but to eat out for lunch & dinner for the rest of the weekend.” – Bryn 


“Mistakes were made this week. We visited my mom up north this weekend, but then we got snowed in we were 2 hours from home and had to stay an extra night, which meant all packed food and snacks were gone. On Monday, I had to rush the kids to school and of course, they were going to be late for lunch by the time we got there, so we went to the drive-through. I only grabbed burgers for the older kids. Lenny and I went home and heated up leftovers, so it’s only a half fail.” – Jenna P


“So I totally had some fails this month, mainly during the week my sister and dad came to visit. It’s super hard when you have guests visiting to eat in the whole time. We did end up eating at the house more than eating out, so that was good. However, we still ate out a few times. They really wanted to check out some of the restaurants in our area. But hey, I did save on a couple of the restaurant bills by either signing up for their email offers or checking for coupons/offers on their Facebook pages. And one way I always save BIG when dining out with my family is ordering water. It’s crazy how fast it adds up when everyone orders drinks.” – Collin


But here’s how the challenge changed us overall:

We decided to make our own coffee from here on out. 

two cups of coffee under machines

Some of us came to the realization that you don’t need the drive-thru coffee window when you can get a better cup at home!

“I didn’t order coffee on the go ONCE! That’s a huge win for me! In the past, I used to be guilty of at least 2-3 coffees a week — and trust me, it adds up. Now I doubt I’ll ever go back to that habit because I realize I actually don’t even like the taste of my go-to coffee spot because home-brewed coffee is 10x better… and cheaper!” – Emily 


We became aware of our dining out frequency. 

dining in challenge worksheet tracker

We used our fun tracker to mark smiley faces on the days we successfully avoided dining out or put frowny faces on the days we slipped up. You can grab the printable too and customize to any 30-days you’d like!

“At this stage in my life with four kiddos in the house all under 10, I knew this was going to test my sanity so I honestly wasn’t all-in. However, the challenge was on my mind many times, which helped keep us on track and we ended up skipping fast food several times during the month.

For instance, we often grab a bite to eat on the way to our weekly playdates, and instead, we packed lunches & snacks. All in all, we did save money this month by eliminating the quick fast food runs – this was a nice refresher that I need to make it more of a priority to not eat out.” – Stacy 


We got better with meal planning.

purple and pink snack boxes sitting on granite countertop

Meal planning is something we can all feel good about… when we actually do it. 😏This month, a lot of us resorted to meal planning since it’s a no-fail attempt to stay in. And for a lot of us, it proved to really work!

“This challenge has been SO great for my family! We live super close to lots of fast-food restaurants so our biggest temptations are when we’re out and about!

I’ve started packing some snack boxes for everyone, plus the boxes keep things like crackers from getting crushed! These have made it much easier to resist the temptation of grabbing fast food and other than an anniversary dinner and one birthday party at Chuck E Cheese we did so good this month! – Chelsey 


“I usually do a lot of cooking at home, but when we are out and about, we are always grabbing something to eat. To keep from hitting up a restaurant, we actually grabbed healthy snacks from Target a couple of times while running errands. Not only did it save time and money, but it also made me feel good about giving the kids something healthy as opposed to just something convenient.” Jenna P


We saved some serious cash!

putting $5 bill into money jar next to Starbucks cup

“When I added how much we spent on eating out in January ($423 😱), that made this challenge easy! I wanted to save money and I did! I made sure that before I left the house, I had easy snacks so if we got hungry, we had enough to curb our appetites until we got home.

We had to do more meal planning at night but it was a great experience in managing our time and money. We’ve actually decided to extend this challenge through March!” Jennifer 


“We usually budget $150 for dining out each month (and always go over). We spent less than $50 this month, as opposed to $200 in January. And now March’s dining out budget = $50!” – Jenna P


We became aware of the meals out that really matter. 

McDonald's happy meal

“My biggest takeaway is that I don’t mind spending money on eating out but it drives me nuts when we spend it somewhere unnecessary and unhealthy like McDonald’s. I’d rather have one nice steak dinner a month than 10 McDonald’s trips which is exactly what we were doing before.

Not only did we cut down on our monthly takeout spending but it also helped me think about and make changes to where we should be eating out.” – Chelsey 


We even tried some new meal delivery services.

kid holding an Every Plate meal box

We are huge fans of meal delivery services! In fact, we recently tested a bunch of them out and even recently fell in love with one that can get dinner on the table in under 15 minutes! However, Everyplate has definitely been one of our recent favorites and totally came in handy during our challenge this month! (Make sure to read more here and learn how you can score meals for as low at $3.33!)

“I actually found this challenge to be fairly doable since I’ve been ordering Everyplate meal boxes for the last four weeks. Since I now have these meals sitting in my fridge just waiting to be prepared, I am really not tempted to eat out at all. Plus, I save my two favorite meals for the weekend so I have yummy options for Friday and Saturday nights when I’d typically want to go out!” – Bryn


We even made sure to have other meals to fall back on. 

woman holding prepared meals in foil containers

If you’ve been around for a while, you know that Lina knows a thing or two about getting a great meal on the table. However, even she admits to the struggle sometimes, but with her recent post about which grocer has the best-prepared foods, it made it easy to hop on the home-cooked meal train. 👏

“Between being sick most of the month and the kid’s crazy sports schedules it has been hard to cook every night. However, I LOVE the idea of saving and choosing not to eat out and I found it helpful to keep a few fall-back meals on hand just in case. I really like the Costco ones, like their taco kit and BBQ brisket.” – Lina 


Some of us even benefitted by doing the Keto challenge, too. 

keto-chicken-broccoli-cheese-casserole

If you’re not among the thousands of people that joined us during February for our keto challenge, it’s never too late! If you hop over to our sister site, Hip2Keto, you’ll find tons of inspiration from delicious recipes (like our super popular keto chicken broccoli casserole – pictured above) to dining guides and even meal planning!

Plus, the 30-Day Keto Challenge runs year-round so you can join whenever it works best for you!

“I think since I’m doing the Keto Challenge right now, it has helped me with our February challenge! The keto challenge and dine-in challenge just go hand in hand and I’ve been doing so well with staying on track. I’m really loving our team challenges – these are all things I KNOW I should be working on but need that extra push to do and it’s so much better when you’re doing things as a team! “ – Jennifer


However, some of us (Stetson…cough, cough) got a little cocky. 🤣

man sitting in restaurant with ranch dressing in his shirt

Clearly… we all know he’s joking because we have proof of his “dining-in” challenge. 🤣🤫

“I DESTROYED this challenge. Not a single day went by where I even wanted to eat out. Easiest challenge by far and I hope March is harder than this challenge. SO EASY. Come on, guys.” – Stetson


And even when we weren’t ready for this challenge… we still made the best of it. 

girl and boy sitting with fruit and melted bowl of chocolate fondue

“I have not been participating in the challenge because I was not ready to until now – better late than never right?! Tonight we chose to stay home and had an extra special fondue treat!” – Erica 


Most importantly, we loved ourselves even when we failed.

hip2save team at retreat

“If you fall off the wagon or screw up, you are not out. The biggest lesson when this happens in EVERYTHING you do is to just make the next thing you do the right thing and get back on track. Instead of sabotaging the rest of your month, which is what I normally would do…I’m going to just say ‘Okay, I didn’t do well that day… but today I’m awesome!’.

I think this is one of the most important lessons of any of these team challenges. At the end of the day, if I typically grab to-go 10 times a month but only did 2 times this month, that is HUGE to me.” – Michelle 


Want to try our dining-in challenge for yourself?

Make sure to use our FREE printable and let us know how you do!

Join The Discussion

Comments 50

  1. Sammie

    Bravo!!

  2. Kandyce

    Februaryor must be a new month…🤣😅…

  3. AnnArborBargains

    Can you share the printout pictured in the post? I like the idea of having the calendar on one side where you can put how much you spent. 🙂

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the request! We only have the tracking portion, as it is meant for 30 days instead of just a specific month.

  4. Summer

    I loved reading your inspiration and accountability! One challenge a month is a great idea! We really don’t eat out, while we do have the economics, we choose to eat healthier home prepared food. We have spent a lot of time and money eating out over the years, but decided instead to learn how to cook, meal plan, and simply prepare ahead of time. Really it just became too many marginal unhealthy meals that were too expensive and cold and time consuming. Being intentional at home has made us leaner, healthier and wealthier! Congrats on the team efforts though!

  5. Suzanne

    We do something similar at least once a year. We do a no spend month. It makes us be creative in our meals and use what we already have stocked in our deep freezer and pantry. We only buy perishables or necessities (like toilet paper). It usually saves almost $1000 since we aren’t buying groceries, eating out, etc.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Love that idea, Suzanne! 🙌 I think I may try a “no spend month” too!

    • shop4mybabies

      my sister does no shop january every year. i tried it this year, it sucked and i gave up, but kudos to her and you lol

  6. AilineAZ

    I truly wished that my husband would be encouraged to do a dine-out challenge 🙂 I cook five days a week and we are eating the leftovers the remaining two days. I’m craving fast-food all the time but never budge because of our budged 🙂

    • Becca

      Maybe suggest a one time a week chance to eat out. You are doing all the work of cooking – you deserve to be rewarded. If he isn’t on board, let him eat the left overs and you treat yourself to one treat a week. Just a suggestion.

    • Laura

      I agree. I’m a stay home mom of 3 and it becomes such drudgery to make new and exciting meals all the time. I get especially annoyed when one (or more) whines and complains. Making matters worse, my husband frequently goes out for fast food for lunch while at work. If it snows, the employees have to shovel outside so then the company buys them lunch. And the company buys everyone lunch every Saturday, too, so he feels like he eats out plenty and doesn’t understand how tired I am of endlessly shopping, planning, making, serving, convincing, cleaning and repeating.

      • Tracey

        I feel you, Laura. I cooked every night for many, many years; we didn’t go out much at all as money was tight. Now that the kids are grown & on their own, I detest cooking and want to go out more, but my husband goes out for lunch quite often with co-workers or they have a catered lunch now and then so he just wants to eat at home. (I work from home and only have 30 minutes for lunch, so don’t go out at all then). At least now he does most of the cooking!

  7. jacqui0802

    Can I ask if there was a noticable increase in your food shopping bill? We dont eat out for the most part anymore but when we stopped I noticed I spend a lot more money and trips to the food store trying to keep up.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Good question! I did notice that my food shopping bill went up a bit when trying to cook at home more. Depending on where you choose to eat out, the extra price in groceries can still be cheaper than dining out. Especially when making your own coffees each day. Hope that helps!

  8. lucinda11

    Could you let all of us know what the challenge is for each month (at the beginning of the month) so that we could all participate too?

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi there! Thanks for the request! For now, we are working on these first to give readers an idea of what to expect, on how it worked out for us. We may decide to change this though as we keep trying out these challenges. 😊

    • queen62

      You could do the dine in for next month. Just do the challenge the following month then you can better prepare for it

  9. AshleyFL

    While you saved money by not eating out, I have to assume the weekly grocery bill went up. Was there really a monthly cost saving to not eating out?

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Yes, for many of us who tracked the savings, we saved a substantial amount by opting to eat in, especially when we also made frugal recipes that didn’t require a ton of ingredients – and many of us would also double the recipes we were making so that we had leftovers to eat during the week. The amount spent eating out can sometimes be so high, especially when you factor in the drinks and tip.

  10. Rebecca

    We used to eat out once a week. It got so we often felt the meal wasn’t worth the $$. More recently it’s been once or twice a month, and more in the quick-service realm.

  11. CasseSaves

    I like the little month part too is there anyway you could add is separately and we customize the month ourselves? It’s so cute with both sides.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      So sorry, CasseSaves. We only have the tracker part now. You could always print out a generic calendar page to add to it. Hoping that might help!

  12. Ana

    I tried the water challenge, and I have to say I think it was too much water for me, lol
    I run so I thought it would be good but after a week I felt so bloated and tired that I think I might’ve been drinking too much. Maybe o should just do half?

    • ana

      I* whoops

  13. Chritina

    Where is the “love”🥰 button when I need it.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Aww, Thanks for the kind comment! ❤️

  14. Lana

    The more you eat at home the easier it gets! You learn to do things ahead to help throughout the week. One of my preps is to peel, cube and cook a bunch of potatoes some weeks. Some are mashed potatoes the first night, I might make some potato salad with some and the rest are put away for quick sides for breakfast or supper. Just brown them in a little olive oil and they are delicious. It also helps to make a big bowl of tuna, chicken or egg salad for quick sandwiches all week. Wash and spin all your salad greens so that salads are quick and easy. Our grocery bill really does not go up very much when eating at home because we stop the wasting of food that should have been eaten when we grabbed a meal out instead.

  15. Natascha

    I am so impressed that you guys did this! I hope I can convince my family to at least attempt this challenge!

  16. Lissa C

    Love this! Thank you!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re welcome, Lissa C!

  17. acgold

    We have also been eating in more. Since there are only two of us, when I cook”in bulk” there are freezer meals. We don’t have a big freezer or a separate one, but I still manage to make enough and store for variety. I have a 6 quart crockpot and 5 & 6 quart pots. That’s my key. I try and fill them up when I cook and get at least 6-8 portions of each to pack. Because we choose to do this, when we eat out, once or twice a month,we can splurge and go somewhere that is more costly or special than we would have if we went twice a week or so.

  18. ddd0319

    This is one of your best posts ever. I’ve been a long time follower and I love the depth and breadth and the humor. Like Stetson and the team member that only half failed! 😂Way to provide awesome content hiptosave!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      LOL! Thanks for the feedback and for being a longtime reader! 💕 SO glad you have enjoyed the post! 🙌

  19. Ash

    I agree with others that once you start eating at home more, your cravings for going out to eat start going away. I will admit it does take more time to plan and prep your meals and then you have to wash all the dirty dishes. If you’re looking to save money on your grocery bill, take the time to look at the store ad and plan meals around what is on sale and what you have on hand. This is also time consuming but worth it considering the amount you save.

    • HBee

      Triple thumbs up on this, Ash!

  20. patricialavenz-goff

    We eat out twice a month and I am trying to convince my brothers to stop doing that. I don’t like eating out. LOL We do eat out a lot when we travel. We take snacks but 12-15 hour drives you have to eat real food sometime so we stop at the gas stations and get some food. I usually get a hot dog especially if they are on that machine that goes around and around and cooks them. Brings back memories of the bowling alley on base growing up. Love it. We are working on eating at home all the time. It is so much better for your body and wallet.

  21. ReneeAnn

    Way to go! Not sure i could stick to it that long. I enjoy cooking for the most part but planning/shopping/cooking/cleaning for a meal can be so exhausting on a busy day. Every now and then eating out is worth the cost. I get jealous of my husband who gets taken out to restaurants for lunch & dinner by vendors. Sometimes I get the invite but then I’d have to find childcare!

  22. gailio

    We have stopped eating out much (take out) because of the environment- all that single use plastic so many places use, extra packaging, etc. Since we have not been eating out or take out as much I have lost 10 lbs. with little effort!

  23. Amberd68

    Stetson 😂🤣😂… you always crack me up!

  24. Amy

    I think it really depends on how many people are in your family. It is just the two of us, and while we cook a lot and eat a lot of leftovers, sometimes we find it just as cheap to eat out so we have no waste.

    • MommySpendsLess

      Amy – I was thinking the same thing. We don’t get much fast food and the bill at sit-down restaurants can add up quickly but fast casual restaurants like Panera and Little Greek end up being quicker, cheaper, easier and probably better tasting than what I could make at home (I’m not a great cook). If I could buy 1-2 person portion sizes of all the ingredients, everything was freezable or we were content to eat the same meal every evening for 4 days it would probably be different. It sounded like most of the people participating in this challenge are families of 3-6 so it makes sense that they save a lot of money.

  25. Lisa

    We reviewed or budget for sept and oct and were spending WAY too much on eating out so as a family of 8 all decided not to eat out until 2021. We are 4 months in and sometimes are easier than other but we are working together and cheering each other on. Our reward- a trip to Hawaii!!!!

  26. zos

    This is really why I follow this blog for 8 + years…. (is it possible???)!

  27. nita

    Eating out when you’re in a big city is part of the culture, there are atleast 3-5 restaurants on every block and new n exciting ones popping up constantly, so kinda hard to avoid because it’s the “thing to do” but definitely better to cook your own food most of the time..

  28. E

    We used to eat out every week. Often more than once a week. We started strict Dave Ramsey a yr and a half ago and stopped eating out completely. Now when we do, it’s a huge treat for us and my kids. Also now my daughter is gluten intolerant so it’s hard to find places she can eat, so it’s usually chik fila. We save SO much money by not eating out. Just chik fila for 5 people is $30. My instant pot gets used nearly every day, best investment because it saves tons of money not needing/wanting to eat out because I forgot/we were out etc. Now I will throw something in it, leave it on, go out, and when we get back we have a hot meal waiting!

  29. Jessica

    We do this every month 😩. It’s very rare that we eat out.

  30. Casey

    I do this every month and some are much better than others. For March we are trying to only go out for our anniversary. Let’s see how it goes!! Now I want Five Guys at 7am because of this post!! LOL

  31. Bunny

    We try to avoid the “big plate little food” restaurants so we can at least come home with leftovers for another meal. 😉

    We also try to eat out at places where I am not proficient in cooking a particular cuisine, say Vietnamese.

    This was an awesome post with some really great suggestions. I’m thinking of doing a no spend month that Suzanne mentioned above. We have way too much stuff in our pantry and this is the perfect opportunity to do that.

    On a different note, was shopping at Costco yesterday. You would have thought it was Christmas eve it was that busy. When I asked the cashier why it was so crowded, she said she thought people were stocking up in case there was a quarantine for the coronavirus.

  32. Csandst1

    Restaurant and grocery store takeout is LOADED with fat and sodium (unless you get a meatless salad and no dressing). Stay away from takeout and restaurants to stay healthy. You’ll lose weight and save thousands of dollars.

  33. Cassie Sue

    I tried to only go out to eat in February if it was with someone. I used the “we have food at home” reason for anytime I wanted to just grab something on the go. I was successful and realized that I actually enjoyed it more when I went out and ate healthier because I thought ahead instead of grabbing junk food. I wasn’t as successful this month due to some offsite training that I had to go to, but I’m thinking of sticking to it again in April. Not to mention, I saved A LOT of money by not getting a $10-$15 fast food lunch anytime I didn’t feel like packing my own lunch.

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