As mentioned in our previous article ‘War on Debt: Fighting on the HomeFront’ I will be discussing different ways to save your household money and yes even earn a bit of money!
The first topic we are going to cover is Eating at Home.
I have to admit that when we were first married, eating at home was a rare occurrence. It wasn’t because I didn’t know how to cook, but rather eating out just seemed to be more fun and exciting as newly-weds. We thought that of all the late night drives, drive-thru runs, and even expensive dining in was the way to go. We couldn’t have been more wrong and we quickly discovered why. Not only were our date nights becoming less special, but our bank account was shrinking rather than expanding. On the evenings that we honestly wanted to have a romantic dinner, it felt less special and more like the same routine we were in. We were becoming so reliant on eating out that it was no longer a joy, but rather a very expensive habit that was getting harder to break away from. As mentioned in the previous blog, it wasn’t until we had hit a financial rut that we both had to sit down together and face the facts. We needed to make some extreme changes not only for our finances, but for our marriage and our health.
One of the wedding gifts we received was a really nice crockpot. I remember the excitement Jason and I both had when we ripped off the MR&MRS wrapping paper that revealed this life saving appliance underneath. At the time I thought “I can’t wait to use this” but instead it just got placed under the kitchen cabinet until MANY months later. When we decided it was time to make some changes in our newly married life I never realized just how useful and amazing the crockpot is in a home!
Below I have listed some helpful tips to help make eating at home a better habit! It’s one that I recently discovered and I love it!
I’ve spoken to many women and I have read several articles about eating at home. Some of the reasons people avoid eating at home are listed below.
What’s Holding You Back:
-Not Sure How to Cook/Never Taught
-Ingredients are too Expensive
-I Have no Idea What to Make
-When do I have the Time
-I’m too Tired after Work
-I Don’t Want to Eat the Same thing Over and Over
-I Hate Grocery Shopping
I’m not saying I have the perfect, one-size-fits-all answer to any reason I have listed, but I do have ways of making it simpler and easier to cook at home. Here are some suggestions to help you!
Not Sure How to Cook/Never Taught
I’ve always had a saying “If you can read, you can cook.” Cooking is just reading the ingredients needed, measuring out the right portions, and then following the directions. I was very blessed to grow up with a grandmother who always cooked at home. Our closest drive thru was a half hour or so away. She taught me all that I knew about cooking when I decided to start cooking for my home. I learned much from my grandmother, but I wanted to expand and try even more. I wanted to explore different recipes. I found the following sources below very helpful:
–Allrecipes.com (Step-by-Step How to Videos)
-Magazines! (Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Taste of Home, etc have wonderful budget friendly recipes)
– Cookbooks (you can pretty much find cook books anywhere! You can find cheap books at yard sales, flea markets, good wills, or just ask a relative or friend if they have any extra)
–Pillsbury.com and BettyCrocker.com (Not only sends you recipes when you sign up for their newsletter but they also send out awesome coupons and even full sized samples!)
– Ask someone for help (don’t be afraid to ask for help on cooking tips and ideas)
2. Ingredients are too Expensive
Suggestion: I agree cooking ingredients can be very expensive! My solution to this was finding sales and coupons Coupon’s, Freebies, and Money Maker’s O MY! for the ingredients needed. The good news is, that for many ingredients once you buy them (most things that you can store in a cabinet or the fridge long-term) you can use them multiple times lowering the cost of your next recipe. Instead of going out to buy all possible ingredients, only stick to the items on your recipe meal(s) for that week. Also, choose a recipe that is simpler if your budget is really tight. Many stews and soups require surprisingly few ingredients. Most recipes require you to buy spices, sugars, veggies, etc. The perk to this is a one time purchase that can last you for a few dishes afterwards. For any ingredients that expire, it’s always best to stretch your dollars by aligning your meals to ensure that you use all of the ingredients rather than watching food rot. If you’re having a taco night on Monday, and you have leftover hamburger follow up the next day with a simple recipe to make use of the leftover burger. Don’t let the upfront costs of cooking at home scare you, because it will get cheaper as you get better and acquire the ingredients right in your pantry.
3. I Have no Idea What to Make
Suggestion: Echoing the previous solution above. I always find new recipes to try in magazines like Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Taste of Home Organic Life, Men’s Health, etc. My personal number one go-to site is Allrecipes.com because they include the ingredients, time requirements and even step-by-step videos for beginners.
4. When Do I Have the Time
Suggestion: Finding time is the most frequent reason I’ve seen, heard and read about not cooking from home. The first thing to realize that there are recipes that are less time consuming. Not every meal is a Beef Wellington, or a 3 course Turkey dinner. The more you cook from home the more you will familiarize yourself with recipes that are simple and easy for your home. It’s always helpful to measure out your ingredients the night before so in the morning if you are making a crockpot meal (possibly the biggest time saver) you can add your ingredients and set your crockpot on low for however many hours required to have a hot meal.
5. I’m Too Tired After Work
On your days off or on lunch breaks, you can prepare a meal schedule. Stick to your meal schedules so you can easily pick up ingredients and save yourself the time and headache of knowing what to make for dinner. The sources I mentioned earlier: the amazing magazines, cookbooks and cooking sites are your friend! You print, rip out, or even load it to your phone the recipe(s) for the following week and take it with you right in the store so you don’t forget ingredients needed. Its a easy and fast trip in and out of the store. For bonus points, set out the ingredients you already have at home and mark the ones you don’t need to re-buy at the store before leaving to save money and reduce waste.
6. I Don’t Want to Eat the Same thing Over and Over
Suggestion: If you’re like most people, this is the truth! You can make large crockpot meals that last days and days as leftovers to save you time, however eating the same thing over and over can start to become very dull. The solution to this is make several smaller crockpot meals instead of one gigantic meal to add variety or use your left overs to make another dish. If you made absolutely too much of something, don’t be afraid to freeze it (especially if it’s soup/chili/sauce) and use it at a later date. You just have to thaw it and reheat!
7. I Hate Grocery Shopping!
Suggestion: To this day I still cringe a little at the thought of walking into the grocery store. I see all the cars in the parking lot and think “its going to be a mad house in there.” While I still feel like this, one thing has changed and that is knowing what I need before I go in so I can get in and out as fast as I can. My solution to this is the sticky pad solution. I always put a magnetic sticky pad on my fridge so as soon as I run out of something, it gets written on my sticky pad. That way I’m not in the store playing bumper carts with people and falling asleep to the slow music and all the overwhelming option of foods choices. Having a recipe with the ingredients in my hand is also helpful that way I know what I need and I don’t forget any important ingredient. Again, make sure you check your cabinets before you head to the market and make sure you don’t already have the ingredients needed for your recipe in the pantry. This not only saves you time trying to find it in the store but saves you money so you aren’t buying double the ingredients and wasting any. The overall secret to grocery shopping is knowing what you need before you go and having prepared meal plan for the week before you start to buy ingredients. One more suggestion, never (and I mean NEVER) go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. We have learned that when we are hungry and grocery shopping, EVERYTHING looks appetizing and usually comes home with us along with the 3 foot receipt with a number at the bottom that makes your eyes bulge.
I hope these tips help and if you have any comments or other advice please feel free to share on our comment section below, or send me an email. I would love to hear from you!
**Another tip: If you would like to enjoy a date night or an evening dinner with family/friends and you do not have the extra spending money in your budget to do so, you can earn money and gift cards by trying out the tips in my previous article. Coupon’s, Freebies, and Money Maker’s Part 2 you can earn money and gift cards to your special restaurants. I have earned several restaurant gift cards and pre-paid visa cards to enjoy these special lunches and dinners with my husband, family and friends. This saves you money and doesn’t touch your budget!