One of the biggest challenges faced by someone who is trying to build up a well stocked pantry is figuring out what to store. One of the simplest rules to follow when storing food for future use is to remember to store what you will eat. A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to keep track of what you ate as well as when you ate out and why. Lets start with the list of when you ate out and the reason. This may seem counter-productive, but statistics say that fifty percent of American meals are eaten away from home, and one of every five breakfasts eaten in this country was from that place with the golden arches. It goes without saying that eating out generally costs more than eating at home. In addition, when you eat out, you don’t have the same control over the quality of the ingredients.
Understanding the reason that you choose to buy take out can help you save money.
So, let’s look at my family’s reasons for eating out this past week. The first time, it was because I got off work late, and I was too tired to come home and work my culinary magic on those pantry staples. The second time we ate out, it was to celebrate my oldest son finishing the first draft of his book. The second was a legitimate reason though I suppose that I could have just made him his favorite meal at home. The first take-out meal could have been avoided if my pantry or freezer had contained a few convenience items.
Frozen convenience foods can help save money on take out.
Even in a household of culinarily challenged people, a frozen Lasagna or a tray of frozen enchiladas (either homemade or commercially produced) could have gone into the oven and been ready to eat when I got home, and I would have arrived 30 minutes earlier because I wouldn’t have stood in line and waited for the fast food that I carried in the door with me. Even spending $12.00 for a frozen party size lasagna paired with a simple salad, would’ve been cheaper than the $40 fast food run that I made. Building a pantry or food store is all about learning what your habits and needs are and ensuring that you have what you need to successfully produce meals for the best price.
Give yourself permission to have some “cheats” in your food storage.
Consider the kitchen skill levels of the other members of your household, and give yourself permission to pick up a few convenience foods to have on hand for those late nights to help curb those fast food dinners. Even two servings of that creamy vegetable lasagna had fewer calories than that double burger meal from the fast food place.
Coming Next Week: Determining the building blocks for your family’s meals.
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9 thoughts on “Cutting Out Take Out”
Patty Cake, I like your freezer meal and convenience food ideas. My last time to eat out and why was when the traffic was at 10 mph all the way and I got sleepy. Del Taco sounded pretty good to me! A 59-cent red burrito and 75-cent mini quesadilla!
The cost of your take-out was pretty inexpensive and it was cheaper than paying for repairs on your car after an accident if you had fallen asleep, or hospital bills.
Great post! One of my biggest challenges is that when I go to the store, I go without a plan. So, I tend to buy on impulse rather than ingredients for a larger meal. If I am going to prepare something more involved, I will usually go to the store beforehand. Obviously this system that I have set up for myself wastes a lot of time and makes a good case for eating out. I need to fix this, but habits are hard to break.
Not having a plan can be a disaster for the budget. A couple of weeks ago, I did some pre-assembly for some meals for those busy days. That saved us from eating out twice this week.
Since my hubby and I are both retired we are now on a FIXED income and I am trying to plan and cook at home during the weekdays. We treat ourselves on the weekend but still try to avoid fast food. Plus we feel so much better when we eat at home.
I know what you mean about fixed incomes. I’m not there, but my Mom and Dad were on a very tight budget after he retired. Fortunately, my mom was a good cook. I have noticed that I feel better when I eat my own cooking rather than eating out. My theory is that when you cook for yourself, you know exactly what goes into a recipe, and you usually save a bunch of money. Italian Food (pasta, salad, bread) is a great example of that. I can feed my family of 4 a meal of spaghetti and meatballs with all the trimmings and drinks for $6 to $10 (Sometimes for less if I hit a good sale). If we had the same meal at an Italian restaurant, we would spend at least $40. The meal I cook at home usually allows my son to have seconds and leaves enough for me and one of my coworkers for lunch the next day.
I’ve learned to cut back on dining out but I still like to treat myself to a satisfying meal just before I go grocery shopping. That way my tummy is full, my shopping list stays lean, and I avoid adding impulsive treats. Never go into a store hungry.
Never going into a store hungry is excellent advice. Also, if you’re shopping with kids in tow, feed them first. It will make negotiating with them about what they want you to add to the cart much easier.