Saving Money while Running Errands!

Here is your scenario:

It is Tuesday morning, your oldest child needs dropped off at Pre- school, you have your youngest in tow while trying to grocery shop, get the dog food and run to the bank. Your "errands" began at 9am and as you are pulling out from dropping your oldest off, you realize you didn't eat breakfast yourself and are starving! What do you do??!! Keep in mind you are taking part in TNTL eat in February Challenge!!

Most people answer this question with a simple, "Go to McDonalds or Chick Fila." But after your 5th time running errands in a week we end up spending an unnecessary amount on fast food. The average American spends $232 a month on meals prepared outside the home (pizzas, fast food, Sheetz, ect.) that is over $2500 a year?!? Whoa! As a family who travels often to visit family and friends I can see us spending that much, unfortunately. But as frugal living families what can we do to help save this money? Here are some tips on eating on the go, basically ways to save that trip to McDonalds or the like when our bellies start rumbling!

Tip #1: be prepared

It all starts at home. When you are meal planning, plan out snacks ahead of time. In our house we always have fruit snacks, granola bars, cookies, and raisins (or other dried fruit) on hand. I will go through our snacks after grocery shopping, rid of anything stale and reorganize the snacks. The BEST way I have found to prepare for the week ahead is to purchase a box of store brand snack baggies. I will divide the goldfish, cookies, cereal, ect. Into bags. What this does for my family: makes life easier! We have 3 small containers (purchased at lowes on clearance for $3). The first container is my son's as he snacks more often than my husband and I. The second container is for cookies and popcorn or chips. The third container is for granola bars, oatmeal bars, ect. No matter who is home with my son they know they can go and grab a snack from his bin and it is safe for him (he has a tree nut allergy). Similarly, when I'm packing lunches in the morning we can grab a snack out of the bins without having to package them. Grocery store days it seems long and monotonous but during the week it saves so much time! We even grab a few snacks to take on the go so IF we get hungry during our errands we can pull out a proportioned snack and hold us over until we get home for a meal.

This is my son's snack container. We can tell when things are getting low and need refilled by the clear container!

This is what my cupboard looks like for snacks for the family.

Tip #2: eat before leaving the house and take a drink with you

"Shopping makes me thirsty!!" How many times have you exclaimed this after shopping, running from cold air to heated dry air and back to the car lugging bags and a kid on your hip? Purchase a nice cup or mug that you can travel with. I have 2 that I prefer. The Brita filtered soft water bottle. It works wonders and rarely leaks. I say rarely because all bottles leak at some point but this one seems to hold the liquid well! I also have a Tervis cup I adore! It is my go to at home and on the go. Holds hot and cold and is dishwasher safe. They come in a Variety of sizes and styles. Check them out! Now, I understand your thought of "but you're spending money on a mug or cup!" Sure, but think about this: you fill up your $20 Tervis mug with a drink every time you make a trip out of the house. You don't have to stop for a sweet tea or soda or water while out and that alone pays for the mug in one month!

Now eat before you go out. Basically, grab a snack BeFORE you leave the house. Eat something that curbs the appetite like a granola bar or yogurt. It's healthy and will help to keep your appetite at bay while on the go! Thus you don't have to make a trip to a fast food store and save money!

Tip#3: k.i.d.s.

"Mom I'm soooooo hungry", "I'm going to starve to death!", "[screaming and wailing] mom... Food!" We have the moments we want to break down and just buy that happy meal for our child to stop melting down and to get some peace and quiet. But the question is do you have to?? If you are going to be out over the child's typical lunch period (which I highly Do NoT recommend) be prepared for a meltdown of a century with a snack and drink. If your child is like mine, they will eat that snack up in a heartbeat and beg for more. Much like I recommended above, give them something that will help to curb their appetite until you can safely get them home and prepare a cheaper (and dare I say healthier) lunch! Granola bars are great options and look for something that TAKES a while to eat so it buys you time to commute to your home with maximum quiet time! In the end you will save money and feel less guilty for making that "poor child" wait. 

What ways have you found to save yourself that trip to a fast food restaurant while out running errands?? I'd love to hear other recommendations from the readers! 

Have a great Tuesday and I hope this helps provide ideas on ways to save money on the go!


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