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Save money with these 6 easy tips that will help you cook at home more and avoid eating out, even when life is busy.
Anyone else feel like December is about twice as busy as the rest of the year? With the holidays right around the corner, there are always extra activities to add to our schedule- decorating, annual cookie baking, Christmas parties, Christmas work dinners, family get-togethers and of course gift shopping, too!
To add to the craziness, this year we thought we’d buy a house and fix it up, plus get ready to move yet, too! I know, what are we thinking?! Well, to be honest, it wasn’t the original plan.
But when you need to move and you spend over 4 months looking hard for a house, and you agonize and are about to give up and just call it quits (even though that’s not really an option), and then you finally find a place that was just put on the market and it’s almost exactly what you had been looking for all that time, you kind of just feel relief and decide to try to roll with all the craziness that it includes! And if I’m honest, you kind of have moments of mild panic and wonder if you’re going to survive too. 🙂
As a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can keep my sanity these next couple of months. For me, meals are a biggie. If I don’t have some sort of plan in place, I know it’s going to be awfully tempting to just order takeout or grab some fast food. The problem is that doing that is not only unhealthy, it’s also a great way to blow through your budget fast!
So I’ve decided to implement some strategies that should keep things fairly low stress and still help me cook at home more, without breaking the bank. Maybe you’ll find them helpful in getting through this busy season too!
6 Easy Ways to Cook at Home More Often (and save money!)
1. Have a Meal Plan
I know that weekly or monthly menu planning is a great sanity and money saver. And while it works well for most people, I’ve tried it and just have never been able to stick it out long term. But I do still try to have a plan.
For me, what works best is to spend a couple of minutes each evening planning our my meals for the next day. Or if I don’t get that done, I try to do it first thing in the morning. The key here is to figure out what works for you when it comes to successful meal planning, and then doing it consistently!
2. Keep Things Simple
I love a meal with lots of variety as much as anyone else, but sometimes we moms need to remember that it’s okay to just keep it basic and simple. Breakfast for dinner is one of my go-to quick meals. Another is homemade cream of tomato soup and cheese. Both are tasty, filling and best of all, super easy and fast to make!
3. Prep Food Ahead
This is a big one for me! Eating healthy when we’re busy can be hard. But if I can take just an hour or so every week and do things like wash up lettuce for salads, chop veggies that we’ll need, cook meat etc., it helps make meal prep much less stressful on those really busy days.
Sometimes I’ll simplify things even more and instead of browning 1 lb. of hamburger for a recipe, I’ll do a second pound as well and then have it ready for another recipe later on. It doesn’t really take any extra time but, in the long run, it saves me a lot of time!
4. Do Some Homemade Freezer Meals
Basically, this is just taking the prepping food ahead idea a step farther. For me, it means that I’ll dedicate some time each week to making food that I can freeze and then have handy to pull out for a quick meal or at least a quick addition to a meal. I may dedicate an afternoon to this, but most likely I’ll just double recipes that I’m already making and freeze half.
Some things that freeze well are pasta dishes like my Oven Ready Lasagna, bread based dishes like Amish Turkey Stuffing, burritos (I’ve done breakfast ones as well as some bean burritos), cakes, cookies and muffins.
5. Consider the Cost
Have you ever stopped and figured out how much money you save when you choose to eat at home instead of eating out? It’s hard for our family to get a good, filling meal for less than $25, and most of the time it costs much more. But, we can typically eat a from-scratch tasty meal at home for less than half that!
That alone has been a big motivator for me and has helped me be more okay with not eating out or grabbing fast food very often. It especially helps if I can envision that $15 in savings going toward the expense of an item we are saving for that I really want!
6. Stock Convenience Foods
My goal is to make the majority of our food from scratch, but I’m also okay with falling back on the convenience of ready-made food occasionally too– especially when it means my stress level will be greatly reduced!
If you follow my menu plans at all, you know that one of our favorite convenience foods is Kidfresh Meals. I know that Kidfresh worked with a pediatric nutritionist to design these meals specifically to be the best in kid nutrition. But honestly, our whole family enjoys the Kidfresh Super Duper Chicken Nuggets and the Kidfresh Fun-tastic Fish Sticks. I’ve even sometimes used the Kidfresh Mighty Meaty Chicken Meatballs for quick meatball sandwiches!
The thing I love about Kidfresh meals is that they have up to ½ cup of hidden veggies in every meal and they contain no artificial flavors or ingredients, no synthetic colors or flavors and use non-GMO ingredients only. As a mom, I appreciate a simple, convenient meal solution that doesn’t compromise on quality and nutrition!
Want to stock up on some Kidfresh meals to get you through this busy season? Walmart now carries Kidfresh meals, so you can easily stop by your local store like I did and grab your favorites!
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