If there is one area that can grow quickly and start to consume a substantial portion of your budget, it is dining out / fast food. The category itself isn’t inherently bad. A nice planned evening out is a great way to socialize and bond with people. While you wait for your food, the only thing you can do to pass the time is talk to one another.* The problem starts to occur when it becomes a frequent occurrence.
There are many reasons why it might happen. Here’s a quick list:
-You might not have food in your house to cook dinner
-You might be too tired to cook when you get home
-You could have a nice meal planned but find yourself missing an ingredient or two, if you have to run out anyways for food, might as well get it pre-made
-All your co-workers go out for lunch/dinner
-You forgot to grab/pack a lunch
-Time got away from you and now your dinner consists of ashes
-You had everything all set to go in a crock pot but forgot to turn it on
-and a variety of others
What is the best way to avoid this…start stocking up on ready to make TV dinners? Nope, salt intake aside, you won’t be saving a whole lot since most TV dinners are going to run between $3-$6 a box anyways. A much better approach is to make your own easy quick meals.
Easy quick meals are going to be one of two things: 1) They are meals that are already made and just need to be reheated. 2) They only need a couple of ingredients and can be made VERY quickly (you’re hungry and in need of a quick fix). Left overs are the easiest example of this. Left overs from last nights dinner can be frozen and used for a future lunch or dinner. This works really well with soups as they freeze really well.
Another example and favorite of mine is frozen burritos. Take a can of refried beans, a can of black beans, and heat them up with cheese and salsa. Take the filling and spoon it into a tortilla, wrap into a burrito, then put them into bags and freeze them. You can even add other things like rice, beef, or chicken. When you’re hungry, all you have to do is pull one out, heat it up in the microwave and dinner is served.
This can be a great resource to help save you money the next time you find yourself tempted to head out the door for a meal. Do you have a go to meal when your in a pinch? What recipe can you crank out factory style and freeze for a later day?
*This is assuming you aren’t at a sports bar or some other place where TVs are plastered everywhere. The other caveat is that you don’t spend the time with your face buried in your phone. Facebook and Twitter will still be there an hour later.