Monday, August 18, 2014

ways to get more comfortable cooking at home (and eating out less)

one lesson that i have learned during our spending freeze is in order to prepare food at home more  - it has to be enjoyable and planned out.

  1. pick one or two new recipes to try per week
  2. plan out weekly menus - base them off of sale items
  3. buy meat in bulk and then portion it out so you don't have to worry about spending money on meat each week
  4. remember that you are (hopefully..don't just go grab frozen dinners) feeding yourself healthier foods
  5. have a simple meal ready for a night you are just "too tired" to cook

i've known this for awhile, but have to remind myself:  pick only one or two new recipes to try each week.  this keeps things from getting overwhelming or too time consuming.  the reason i enjoy eating out is because it is quick and painless.  i enjoy cooking new recipes, but doing that seven nights a week can get pretty exhausting.  find a recipe that looks fun to you - whether it is in a magazine or on pinterest.  challenge yourself some.  who knows - you may be the best homemade chicken pot pie maker there is!  but limit the "challenging" part to about once a week.   

i have pinned 1,215 recipes at the time of writing this post.  there should be no excuse for "not knowing what to cook".  this is when planning comes into play!  create a weekly menu before going grocery shopping.  i also like to plan my meals around publix's buy one - get one free specials.  this helps save a pretty good amount of money, as well!  (i rarely pay full price for things like laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, chips...) having your menu outlined for the week makes it feel less overwhelming, as well.  you don't have to scramble at 5:00 or roam the grocery store aimlessly hoping you have everything you need (this leads to overspending, too).

we also buy our meat in bulk from sam's club (we don't have a costco).  i am fortunate that my company provides me with a membership so that i can shop here.  if i were to lose this membership, i think i would go ahead and purchase it ($45).  we save a pretty good amount of $$$ shopping here.  just shop smart! (you don't want to buy things that will go bad in bulk unless you know that you are going to use all of it)  we buy the large quantities of beef, chicken and pork and portion them out when we get home.  by "we" - i mean my husband.  we portion them into freezer bags and store them until we need them.  this saves us so. much. money.  look at what you spend on meat per pound at your grocery store, then go look at sam's club (or costco's) prices.  i'm pretty sure that they will let you "tour the store" before buying a membership.  calculate the savings and see if it's worth the membership cost for your family.

this week we spent $16.18 on pork, $11.22 on chicken and $16.20 on beef.  after portioning out the meat - we had a total of 21 bags for meals (42 servings for each of us).  this totals $43.60 for 21 meals that include meat.  (i like to make some vegetarian meals during the week, too.  this helps offset the price of meat)

$43.60 / 21 = $2.08

$2.08 for each day we prepare meat for the two of us.  

$1.04 per serving / per person for a meal's meat.

at the end of the day i like to think that i'm feeding myself healthier food, too.  hopefully this will reflect on the scale, hah.  it also (sort of - kind of) feels like a game!  maybe?  sure.

there are just some days when we don't feel like cooking.  it happens.  i like to be prepared with a super simple meal for those days.  one of my choices for this is baked potato and chili.  i get the wrapped baked potatoes that take 7 or so minutes in the microwave and canned chili.  so easy.  not healthy.  it happens.

also, publix has a great package where you can get a rotisserie chicken or friend chicken, two sides, and a four pack of hawaiian rolls for $11.99.  this is great for nights you go grocery shopping so you don't have to worry about cooking when you get home!!  this saved us during a moment of weakness this weekend.

how do you make cooking at home fun?  what are some of your go - to recipes?      

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  1. I really wish I could plan out meals more - living by myself is both a blessing and a curse, wherein I don't have to have a menu planned every night since no one is counting on me, but I'm lucky if I get more than a glass of wine and some crackers and cheese most nights! I also spend an obscene amount at the grocery store but I think if I planned a little more it would help cut down on my bill - I wish I could just put a spending freeze on the grocery store! hah! :)

    1. did i "reply" to you? or just leave a comment? how is it only monday?

  2. you are so right! if it was just me - it would be a wholeee other game plan, haha.

    and you cook intricate things that i WISH i had the patience to do more of!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I think the biggest challenge for me is scheduling-- at this point, we both work outside the home and the next county over from our house, and my schedule varies because I teach music lessons, so by the time we get home, it's usually at least 6, if not later. And then if anything comes up to delay me cooking dinner, we usually decide to just run over to the Waffle House or something, because it's getting so late. I'm trying to find some crock pot recipes that I can just throw in before I leave for work in the mornings, especially ones that don't involve browning any meat first. I also agree that bulk meat is a lifesaver! So that's one of my usual stock-up items when I go to Costco. But I make sure to portion out the meat myself, because we'd have a lot fewer servings if my super-carnivore husband did it!

    1. that's funny about your husband, haha. and i agree. the LAST thing i want to do when i get home is cook. i have started picking recipes with very few ingredients. it might be a mental thing, but i feel like it helps cut down on cooking time, ha. i really want to master freezing meals. i know once i have kids freezer meals and crockpot meals will save my lazy self! and waffle house sounds soooo good right now.