Friday, June 10, 2011
4. Plan differently.
People often eat out because of exhaustion or overwhelmed schedules.
Think ahead about your menu for the week and have the ingredients on hand. Build a revolving menu based on what your family likes. If you have fifteen meals that are hits with your family, you can rotate them and only duplicate items twice a month.
Some ideas. And these will be really different for every family. So will the ingredients. Ours will be meatless and without dairy products.
Pasta and sauce
Breakfast for dinner (omelets or tofu scramble or hash brown casserole, pancakes or waffles)
Indian spiced food
Burger or hot sandwich night
Build your own taco or burrito night
Rice or Potato casserole
Soup and/or Salad
Side Salad/Appetizer night
Gravy over rice or potatoes
Calzones or Pockets
Comfort Food - roast, mac and cheese, meatloaf
Eggplant or Chicken Parm
Can you take 20 minutes in the morning to throw something together that you can pop in the oven when you get home? Not only will it save time when you rush into the house during the tensest time of the day, but if you put the ingredients together the dish will taste better as the flavors marry. (If you have raw meat, don't put it with the other ingredients except the marinade ingredients that then will need to be tossed.) Think double time and while you put one dish together, go ahead and make two and put one in the freezer for another time. This works great for lasagna, casseroles and soups -- even all veggie versions). Or put the crock pot to use.
Have healthy versions of spaghetti sauces and salsa on hand. (Plan ahead even more and make and can your own from your summer garden bounty or the farmer's market.) And always have a pasta you like on hand. Then you always have a quick, easy meal with the addition of a salad or bread.
If you plan ahead and have prepped bags of cooked brown rice, quinoa and black beans in the freezer you have the makings of a quick tortilla meal with the addition of quick sauteed pepper and onion strips (frozen in bags which is often cheaper than fresh, usually frozen quickly to retain nutrients, and sliced so you don't have to...win, win. If you really want to plan ahead you can do your own bags in the summer months from your own garden or the farmer's market.)
Potatoes are a good staple, too. And one that can be used in casseroles, soups etc. Allrecipes.com is a terrific resource. Type in the main ingredients you have on hand and you will find recipes.
Every meal you eat at home saves you money, and should likely be better for you (unless your home meal is exclusively boxes, bags and cans).