We also were finding ourselves eating out, and not happy about the quality of the food we were eating. My solution for the days when I don't want to cook are:
I admit the quality of the food isn't any higher than the burger joint offerings with this second idea, but it tastes just as good and saves us at least two-thirds of what we would have spent. I hope this helps someone.
By coreenhart from Rupert, ID
A couple other things I've found helpful: I keep a list of quick, easy meals I enjoy which can usually be made with things I keep on hand. This helps to prevent that situation where you think "I just don't know what to cook, so it'd be easier to go out."
Also, even though it may not be the thriftiest option, remember that buying prepared food at the grocery. Either frozen or from the deli. Is likely to be less costly than a meal in a restaurant. For example, even though those ubiquitous rotisserie chickens cost more than one you cook yourself, they may not be such a bad value when you can use them for several meals.
If there's a buffet style restaurant in your area that offers carryout, that may be an option for picking up a main dish or the most work-intensive part of a meal, then supplementing what you buy with other items you prepare at home. Think outside the box!
My trick to avoid eating out is planning! I have a magnetic white board with each weeks menu at the top and a spot for requests at the bottom. The kids love making requests and sometimes we do fun theme weeks like "Family Favorites" where each person gets to pick dinner for a night.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are allocated left-over nights. I find we often avoid fast-food temptation purely because we know the marinated meat for broccoli beef is waiting in the fridge and needs to get eaten up or it will go to waste. I make sure to plan crock-pot meals or frozen casseroles for nights we have a late event and might be tempted to grab something on the way home.
With three kids we just can't afford to eat out and I find that I enjoy it more if it's a very special event anyway. This method has also helped me avoid food waste because I only shop for what I'm cooking and I actually have all the ingredients I need on hand. I put the menu on the back of my shopping list so if there's a great sale I can adjust it as needed.
It saves time since knowing what's for dinner allows me to prep over the weekend or the night before and my husband knows what to make for dinner if I'm sick or running late (I stick the recipe cards for the week on the board with magnets). Anyhow, I've tried several systems, and this has worked the best for me. I stole the idea from the kid's lunch menu :)
Add your voice! Click below to comment. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!