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Finance, Food, & Fun!

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The other day I was walking with my workout buddy and the subject of eating out came up. Being the budget-conscious woman she is, they shared a meal and each had a cocktail. She was shocked at how expensive it wound up being for one dinner and a couple of drinks. Conversely, her family went out to one of their favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants and left with doggie bags of food for 2/3rds the price of the date-night dinner.

This got me thinking about the cost of food and what provokes us to go out. Here’s the list of reasons I came up with. See if any of these resonate with you:

  • Don’t have a plan
  • Don’t have what we need to make what we thought we were going to make
  • Not in the mood for what’s in the pantry/fridge
  • Too tired to make a meal
  • Out and about, or away from the kitchen

Making food at home can save you a fortune, I’m sure you already know that. But it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a plan. FUN and easy are the keys. So here are a few ideas to get you on your way:

  • Try new things using the staples you frequently use. This is a great way to keep your kids, and mate, in the game. Doing different things will create intrigue and excitement for the family meals if you play it right. Here are a few ideas with potatoes to get you started:
    • Serve hash browns for dinner: Use them instead of rice and top with beef in brown gravy or stroganoff. Or stack a hamburger patty on top of a hash-brown patty, and build it up with a tomato slice, chili, and cheese.
    • Stuff a baked potato with taco fixings; broccoli, bacon, and cheese; or whatever you have on hand that sounds good for lunch
    • Mix chunk potatoes with squash and roast in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Incredibly delicious and super simple.
    • Use mashed potatoes to make pancakes with eggs and your favorite sauce

    My favorite potato recipe is the roasted potatoes with different herbs out of our garden. They’re still good, ol’ potatoes, but are new and interesting.

  • Try a new recipe at least once a week. There are so many recipe sites out there to choose from, there really isn’t any excuse. There are sites that cater to moms with fussy kids, those with dietary challenges, and those that are budget conscious (www.AllRecipes.com is my favorite for that …find a recipe with what you have on hand). Rachael Ray has bunches of recipes that are geared to busy people looking for a little more ease in meal prep and bliss when you take that first bite.

     

  • Share the work load! Let your spouse cook one night or two. Better yet, let the kids prepare the meal. My passion for food started when I was little out of necessity. I made the dinners during the times my mom had to work evenings. My first attempt was a banana cake when I was five. My girlfriend and I didn’t have a recipe, we just threw what we thought were the right ingredients into a bowl, mixed them up, baked it, and served it to our mothers. Kids can do it with your supervision and guidance—and they’ll love the chance to dazzle you with their great ideas.

     

  • Use your crockpot! I’m in love with mine. On days when I know neither of us will be able to get it done, thanks to my friend, Matt, sharing his Taco Soup recipe, it’s ready to go when we get home. Add a few tortilla chips into the bowl, fill the bowl with soup, top with your favorite toppings, and ENJOY! And that’s just one great meal …google easy crockpot recipes and find one you like. You’ll drive home for this yummy meal instead of hitting the drive-thru.

For me, I spend a few minutes Saturday morning looking in my pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what I’ve got on hand. Then I make a list of what I plan to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; look up a few recipes for the week, and create my shopping list. We generally shop Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon I chop, bag, and cook up the things I want to keep me on track for the week.

My hubby and I try to eat out no more than twice a week …once on date night and the other as we call it. If we eat breakfast out on Sunday, the rest of the week I work my plan. We’ve saved a ton of money—you can too.

Have fun! Be adventurous. Do a little planning to try new recipes and take advantage of sales.

You can do it! I believe in YOU!

Money Savvy Woman, Inc. © 2015