Close this search box.

Krista’s 21 Day Challenge


The Day Before:

Today is the official start of my 21 day “eat in” challenge.

I had set this goal around the middle of July and have been trying to get my family on board since then. My husband does not love the idea and has tried to talk me out of it several times. We have really had to ease into August 1st and maybe celebrated this last week of July with a few “this is our last time at this restaurant” meals.

Some people may think this is an easy challenge, but let me explain why this is not an easy challenge for me or my family. We LOVE to eat out! It is a “no plan” plan for food, it is our entertainment, it is our family time. Bu,t it is not healthy for our family. Sure, it’s more healthy to eat in because you know everything going into your food, but this challenge will also be healthy for our wallet. Want to take a guess on how much we spent last month on eating out? We are a family of three: my husband, me, and our four year-old daughter.

We spent a whopping, embarrassing, $885!!! OMG!!!

I cannot believe we have let our little entertainment turn into this. You might be thinking, “well if that’s all you spent on food not bad!” But you won’t believe we also spent $715 on groceries this month. We are a family trying to pay off debt and we have gone through the Dave Ramsey class and have heard Dave say, “No eating out!” many times. We didn’t take it seriously because we didn’t think we were out of control this much.

So, I am excited to start this challenge not only to help us know what we are putting in our bodies, but to also keep money in our pockets!

Day 1: 

Well, that didn’t go as easily as I thought it would. I am use to going out for lunch. Routine is that I drop my toddler off at the sitter and then head to the office, grabbing lunch shortly after 1 p.m.  I’m headed to the office and on my way I thought, “Crap! I don’t have lunch!” I actually didn’t have much for breakfast because, fact is, I didn’t go grocery shopping for the week yet. I had my meal plan and list in hand, but wasn’t going to grocery store until after work. I decided I would snack on a few things at the office and then go right to the grocery store after work like I had planned. I worked straight through and really didn’t have much for lunch. Not a healthy option especially since I am 14 weeks pregnant.

I picked up Kaydence from the sitter and we headed to the store. At that point I was really hangry! So, we quickly walked through Hyvee picking up the things on my list. Took some samples and a cheese stick to get me through and we headed home to cook dinner. I spent $147 at the grocery store today and forgot cherry tomatoes for our salad so will have to go back for those. So, I will be right at $150, which is how much I wanted to budget. I hope this amount of food gets us through the week and we don’t have to go back. It’s a trial and error to see if the food will last.

We made spaghetti for dinner and have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. So Tuesday, Day 2, should go much better. At least I have a plan!

Day 2:

You know you go out to eat too much when your 4 year old daughter wants to play restaurant everyday at lunch.  She even knows how to order from the waiter! ME!! “Ill take 4 chicken nuggets and Mac N Cheese” Ok coming right up! UGH!

Day 2 and 3 have been easy, which I knew they would be since they are work days. It’s easy to plan during the week when there is a routine and a meal plan. It will be the challenge of the first weekend that will be hard! We are headed to the lake this weekend and staying in a house so I am hoping we can cook in. I planned pizza for Friday, but that’s as far as I got. My parents are going with us and they love to eat out just as much as we do and my sister is coming in from Texas so we all love to go eat out and socialize. Finding another way to socialize not over out to eat food is what I am worried about. Here’s to getting through the first 5 days with no problems!!

Day 3:


You know those days when you just want to forget about cooking and go EAT OUT?!?!?!?! Well, maybe you don’t because you are not an Eat Out addict like our family. The other night we had swim lessons until 6pm and then I had to come home and start dinner. I was in such a foul mood. (I guess I could have been “hangry”) I didn’t want to cook nor was I excited about burgers and sweet potato fries. I put the burgers on the grill and had them off by the time my husband got home from work. When we sat down to take a bite we cut into the burgers and they were RARE!!!! Gross!!! I am not a good cook on the grill. Usually, that is my husbands job, but I decided to give it a try this dinner since I was so hungry!  We put the burgers back on the grill and cooked them until they looked like burnt hockey pucks. Ugh! By that time the sweet potato chips were cold and dinner was just disgusting! UGH! Not satisfying at all. But, what did make me happy was that we didn’t go out. We ate in which meant we saved money!  The other thing I have noticed is that we also get more time at home when we eat in.  We are done with dinner and clean up by 8pm. If we go out to eat usually drive time across town puts us home closer to 9pm. Love the extra hour of family time.  I’m also toying with the idea of expanding the challenge for the entire month of August. This will give me a better perspective of how much we saved in a month compared to other months.  We will see! We will take one day at a time!

Day 15:

I made it through the second weekend! I had a business meeting in Chicago all weekend so I ate out on the businesses expense and didn’t spend anything personally! I’m excited about not spending anything personally, but the health side of my challenge I felt like I failed. By Saturday night I was feeling very bloated and dehydrated. We had deep dish pizza and soda and I hated the way it made me feel. It did not compare to the healthy cauliflower crust pizza we had last week while eating in. So although I got to eat out and that should have made me happy it actually made me feel opposite and sad that I wasn’t fueling my body with healthy foods.  My daughter is also feeling the pains of eating out. We have all had stomach aches and feeling bloated. She is also saying I want a snack and saying but I want something healthy. I guess I may talk about it often!

I also checked my budget this morning and we are trending less in food this month then the past 3 months.  We have budgeted $1500 for groceries and eating out for a month, but right now we have only spent $540 on food. If we keep trending the way we are we will save $500 or more on food this month, which will go to our debt snow ball! I would love to keep going for the month and see how we fair. I’m still trying to decide. I think we can do it!

Day 16:

It’s a routine! Doctors appointment, hear our new baby’s heartbeat then on to breakfast. Not this month! On our way home from our doctors appointment Kaydence REALLY wanted to eat breakfast out! She even tried to convince me to go pick something up and then we could bring it home and that would be eating in. I wish! We came home and ate Cheerios. Maybe, next month!

Day 21:

This weekend started a very busy week for our family.  We had a busy day at our office Friday and also on Saturday. Whenever we have things going on with the office we usually like to treat our staff for a meal out. So we did that on Friday and Saturday for lunch. I’m not counting it as our family going out, because it was a business expense. I’d like to continue this challenge until the end of the month just to get a month at a glance at expenses for food.  We will continue with Day 21 eating in and this whole next week. Gotta get to planning my meals for the week!

Day 22:

It’s Monday. One day past our 21 day challenge! Although we are still trying to continue our challenge to the end of the month we had a sick toddler this afternoon. My husband had come home from work and I still had not made dinner! All Kaydence wanted to do was to lay on mommy, so I laid on the couch with her and did not make dinner. When Curt got home, I asked him if he wanted to go out and get Chinese take out so we could have dinner. Dnd you know what his answer back to me was?!?!? No, let’s just eat leftovers tonight!

OMG! I think I converted him! I am so glad he could support our challenge and save some money as well! Glad this challenge has turned into a habit for our family!

The End. 

As I reflect over the last month I am proud that for 21 days we followed a pretty strict eat-in schedule. I am also surprised that we did not save any money on food this month. We were actually $146 over budget! I think I need to get smarter at grocery shopping. Maybe even change grocery stores from my beloved Hyvee and try to save a little money. For a family of three it seems like a lot for food per month. $550 a person to be exact. I’m not the type of person to go grocery store jumping; shop at Aldi’s then have to make a trip to Walmart and then make a trip to Hyvee. It just sounds like I would be spending more in gas and in time. So, maybe I am paying a convience tax to only shop one place one time a week?

I would love suggestions on how you save money on food a month and how much on average your family spends. Thank you for reading my challenge this month!




Krista Kippenberger is the Practice Representative for Focus on Health Chiropractic and a COMO Living Board Member. She is married to Curt Kippenberger and they have four year-old daughter, Kaydence.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Don’t miss the most interesting places to go, events to attend, restaurants to try, and ideas for living the best COMO lifestyle.

Popular Stories