Eating out is fun and something to enjoy on special occasions. However, restaurant meals squeeze the food budget more than meals at home. These 5 tips will help you increase the odds of eating at home, sticking to your financial plan, and saving money.
Tip number 1 – Bulk it up
Cook food in bulk and use leftovers. Double or triple recipes to freeze or use as leftovers later. Use time on the weekend or days off to prepare larger amounts of food. Separate the food into meal-sized portions, and then freeze or store them. Get together with neighbors or friends and do this once a month. It becomes a social event that makes light work and more fun. Everyone splits the work and the cheaper cost of buying in bulk.
Tip number 2 – Feed the beast
Eat a snack first to boost energy when you start to prepare a meal. Acute hunger creates a sense of urgency to eat. A quick snack will reduce the pangs and provide energy for putting together a meal. Keep healthy snacks handy for this purpose. Things like dried fruit, nuts, yogurt or whole-grain crackers are simple to store and nibble on while working in the kitchen. You will find it easier to use common sense when you take the edge off your hunger.
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Tip number 3 – Dust off the slow cooker
Is there anything better than the aroma of a meal waiting for you when you return home? A slow cooker could be a good friend when you want to prepare meals ahead of time. Cut up vegetables the night before to save time in the morning. Bags of frozen vegetables are also a convenient option. Check out websites and recipe books for slow cooker recipes and tips. Meat, vegetables, and grains all work well with this method.
Tip number 4 – Go veggie
Alternate your meat meals with vegetarian dishes to save time and money. The advice to eat less meat is not only good for your health; it is equally good for the pocket book. In general, meat costs more and takes more time to cook. Quick foods like instant brown rice and whole grain noodles combined with vegetables make hearty and nutritious meals. Keep a supply of pre-chopped frozen vegetables on hand to make vegetarian meals an easy task. As with slow-cookers, vegetarian websites and cookbooks have recipes and tips.
Tip number 5 – Use take-out meals
If you do feel like splurging on restaurant food, bring the meal home to save on cost. It is easier to share the food with the members of a group and save money. Most takeout meals are large enough to share instead of spending the extra money to have a separate meal for each person. It is especially true for small children. Make it a social occasion with family or friends and split the cost of combo or group meals.
These 5 tips will help you resist eating out in a restaurant and save money on the food budget. Don’t let cravings and fatigue sabotage your finances.