the first hurdle is adverstisary price inflation. this is based on the idea that people will pay more for things even if they arent worth more simply based on being expensive and the glitz of advertising.
the second (and arguably more difficult) hurdle is to know what you're getting for your money and to objectively compare that to what else you can get for the same amount (related or not). the biggest mistake here is paying for features or qualities that you do not need.
1) why, exactly, i am paying for this (distinguish between wants and needs)
2) is this worth the price compared to similar, less advertised counterparts?
3) where is that worth distributed and does that align with what i want?
4) for this amount of money, what else could i get instead, and why is this better?
1) you are eating out because you dont know how to cook/dont want to cook/too lazy to learn how to cook. you could potentially end your cost of eating out here by picking up some easy cooking guides to follow (it isnt rocket science!)
also, you do not necessarily need to cook often. here is my typical day of eating: breakfast i have ~2 cups of cereal and juice or water. for lunch, i will eat out about half of the week for work-related things since i dont have to pay, otherwise i will go home and make a sandwhich or two (i live close to work, you could take food with you... anyone can make a sandwhich!). dinner is up in the air, sometimes i eat out, sometimes i compile a lot of smaller things that require little to no preparation. good things here are fruits (canned or whole) and vegetables you can eat raw (celary, carrots, etc), healthy snack food, canned soup or noodles, sandwhiches, or if youre extra lazy, more cereal.
2) where do you eat out? are you paying exorbinant amounts to sit in a fancy building?
3) what are you paying for? (similar to #2) the building, the service, the quality of the food, etc? if you're on a budget, then what you should aim for here is nutritional value against cost. probably going to have a tough time beating someplace like subway in this catagory.
4) is the time and effort saved by eating out worth what you could buy? any decent restaurant is going to easily run you $5-10 more per person than groceries... thats easily over $200/mo. per person if you eat out consistently.