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Uber Eats addiction: How to cut back without cutting out

Do you know how many times a week you’re ordering food? Or how much you’re really spending?

Compilation image of Uber Eats delivery driver and money to represent spending.
Do a deep dive into your Uber Eats or food delivery spending habits so see where your money is going. (Source: Getty)

In January I decided to give up buying clothes for a year in order to help curb my clothing consumption, and every time I tell people about it I’m met with the same response: “I need to do that too, but for food.” So if you’re stuck in an Uber Eats spending vortex you’re not alone - here’s how to get on top of it.

Prime your environment

The first thing you need to do when trying to change a habit is look at our environment. Look at what’s leading you to keep ordering in – aside from deciding not to cook. Is it a busy period at work? Are you uninspired by the meals you’re cooking at home? Are you grocery shopping ineffectively? Is the habit out of convenience, or enjoyment?

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By answering these questions, you can work out how to increase our chances of cooking at home. We’re quick to decide not to order in anymore, but cutting back completely is hard and has a high failure rate. Instead, step back and focus on redirecting that behaviour.

Priming your environment for cooking at home can look something like this:

  • Buying food you actually want to eat – the aim is to make eating at home as attractive as ordering in or going to a restaurant.

  • Choosing quicker, more convenient options – we want to reduce the energy required to cook at home.

  • Planning your meals in advance – knowing what to have on what days reduces the mental load of deciding what to cook, streamlining that process and making the idea of cooking the simplest option.

Face the damage

Do you know how many times a week you’re ordering food? Or do you just say it’s “too much” and leave it at that? It’s common to sit in a state of guilt and denial and avoid looking at how much you’re spending. After each regretful order you may vow to cut back – but fall off the wagon after a few days when you can’t face the leftover stroganoff you swore you’d eat.

This behaviour, while seemingly an attempt to cut back on your takeaway spending, actually increases the chances you’ll punch in another Uber Eats order. Making bold, corrective and reactive promises is unrealistic. Feeling like you’ve set yourself up to fail is what will lead you to throw the towel in and ‘start again next week’.

You don’t have to cut back to zero

You may be quick to promise you’ll never get takeaway again, but if you’re ordering five times per week that’s a tough promise to keep. Instead, look at how you can scale back to something you’re comfortable with. Maybe five orders a week is too much, but you can happily fit one or two into your budget.

Rather than forcing yourself to cut back to zero, taper back gradually. Slow progress isn’t as daunting at the time, but it makes for more solid habits over the long term. This strategy works to engage you with your habits. Saying to yourself ‘ok, I had five orders last week, this week I’m aiming for four’ removes any shame and makes it something far more achievable.

You may even notice that taking the pressure off motivates you more, and find you make progress faster.

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