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Eating In

July 18th, 2017 at 08:18 pm

Frugalwoods had a GREAT article yesterday. I am sharing in case anyone missed it:

How To Stop Eating Out According To Frugalwoods Readers

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/07/17/how-to-stop-eating-out...

"I must highlight that the #1 reason cited for eating out is a failure to plan ahead.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a planned, agreed-upon-in-advance, special dinner out. It’s delightful to plan for it all month, anticipate what you’ll order, and then truly enjoy yourself. But scrambling to order sub-par Thai at 8pm on a Tuesday because you forgot to go grocery shopping? That’s what needs to stop."

"Caroline says it’s about planning ahead and having a low barrier to entry, “Make sure you have enough ready-to-cook-in-a-short-time food at hand, whether at work or home."

"Anna reports it’s actually a time-saver to cook at home, “What has helped me with takeout is realizing how quickly I can make a meal, particularly a quick veggie pasta or white rice with steamed veggies in the rice cooker. Less than 30 minutes start to table, and we never get delivery or back and forth to a restaurant quicker than that.”

"Sarah says, “We have a rule that you can have anything you want, so long as it comes from the grocery store for those times when planning fails or life just gets in the way. Even it it turns out to be something fancy or expensive, it’s always cheaper than takeout/restaurant for 4."

"Carissa wrote, “We NEVER make single portion meals. Everything is big enough to last us both for at least 3-4 meals. We have no problem eating leftovers, and it’s great to just reheat delicious home-cooked food for lunch or dinner."


Anyway, there were a LOT of good suggestions. There was also a large focus on freezing and cooking ahead. That's just not our thing. I copied and pasted more of the things that are our approach. But I think it's important to read through the whole article if you need any inspiration on this front. Everyone's different, and was reflected in the wide variety of ideas.

I'd say our approach is mostly to plan ahead and buy for a few meals every week. From there, we just go with the flow. Allows us just to cook according to our mood during the week. The idea of choosing a set meal for every day of the week would drive me insane. I feel about the same way about cooking and freezing ahead. Then it gets to be too much work or we lose the flexibility that we prefer. Just to share our overall strategy. & after 15 years of 99% home cooking our meals, whatever we cook is far better than any restaurant food. That was another point that someone brought up. But that takes time to get to.

Oh, and one thing that I was surprised that no one mentioned? Recruiting other help in the household. I guess there is no world where I cook for three other perfectly capable human beings 100% of the time. Whether I work or not. NO WAY! I mentioned this in another blog comment I think: MH is thinking ahead to going back to work full-time and also to his parents watching our kids for a couple of weeks while we are in Europe. We have had the kids cover dinners before, but never got to a set schedule that stuck. So we are determined to get the kids in the habit of cooking this summer (one meal per week, each). By the time school starts, we just don't want to have to put any mental energy into it. Want to make it a habit that sticks.

A couple of weeks ago DL(12) wanted to make beenies/weenies. Last week he made saag paneer (Indian spinach/cheese dish) in the crockpot. I guess the kids often lean towards my simple recipes which will probably be good for college years, but they are also used to higher end meals from stay-home father "chef". & so that is how that happens. Big Grin

& it's been kind of genius because MH lets them choose what they are going to cook every week. DL(12) told me last week that the work was worth the reward. He LOVES being able to choose dinner.

I did ask him what he is going to make this week, and he said sushi. I told him no. WE are not there yet. !! (In the future, maybe).

I share because DL is kind of all over the place. MM's "signature dish" is taco rice salad. He wanted to make crockpot chili last week and chili hot dogs this week.

8 Responses to “Eating In”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    I agree with all those tips! I've moved away from freezing food because I just never feel like it tastes as good. But I do keep an eye on leftovers and try to make sure everything gets eaten within a week.

    We do like planning specific meals for each day. It helps because we have a busy lifestyle and so we can be like "Oh, we have a babysitter coming over and we're going to a show, so we'll put something fast and easy for the kids to finish on the menu for that day." Or if I'm going to be late coming home, I'll put something that AS typically cooks. If it's a day where none of us have anything going on, those are good days to put a labor-intensive favorite, or a new recipe.

    That said, it's not like we never switch meals around when plans change. We just like to have a specific plan in place and then if we need to move a time-intensive meal because we suddenly got busy, we can make sure to put it on a day where we'll realistically have time to prep it. That way we don't set ourselves up for failure and let our fresh ingredients go to waste. (We'd still make an easy pasta or grilled cheese if worse came to worst--we wouldn't order out--but it's the waste of perishable ingredients that I mind).

  2. Carol Says:

    I totally agree about having the kids cook-- they need to learn, adults can use a break.
    I read the frugalwoods article, too. I was surprised how many people count on freezer meals and how few mentioned being able to cook out of the pantry. ( not that it matters, it just struck me.)
    I liked how you described your planning and then going with the flow -- it's pretty much what I do.

  3. MonkeyMama Says:

    I realize now that "go with the flow" probably doesn't work so well with 4 cooks in the kitchen. I guess will see. Might have to move towards more of a set schedule. (The kids each have one set night per week, right now. Which probably makes the most sense for the long run).

  4. Carol Says:

    Oh, and the food blog " Dinner: a love story" has great directions for making sushi at home with kids.

  5. MonkeyMama Says:

    Thanks Carol! I was going to ask if anyone had a beginner sushi recipe. Sounds like a weekend project. (I wasn't going to agree to try a new/complicated recipe on a busy weeknight, but maybe in the next weekend or two I Can oblige him).

    {OMG. That is perfect. Makes A LOT. Perfect for teen boys. & her blog post cracked me up: "When I started this blog, I remember telling someone, “You will never catch me writing about all these precious foodie kids who, like, make their own sushi. Ugh. Barf! Who are those kids?” Well, it turns out at least two of them live in my house..."}.

  6. ceejay74 Says:

    Oh and CSA veggies don't stay fresh as long as supermarket ones, so that's another bonus to the day-specific planning: We make sure we'll cook with the most delicate ones first and save the hardier ones for later in the week.

  7. Out of the Dark Says:

    What a great article. Thanks for sharing. As a single guy refocusing on his financial house, sometimes I lose site of these types of suggestions that are both interesting and fun!

    On a side note, for Christmas last year, one of my daughters got me a Sushi making "kit". Very simple but that, along with an Asian Market about twenty minutes from my house would serve me well in picking up another hobby! I (and the kids) love Sushi and really enjoy visiting our life long Sushi chef who treat us all in a very special way!

    One goal I have had for many years is to purchase some of those plastic dishes, prepare my own "TV Dinners", shrink wrap them and freeze them. Sort of a "grab and go" but homemade. Maybe that'll be a nice project during the next rain storm. I think I'll throw up a blog for some feedback. Thanks for the inspiration MonkeyMama!

  8. snafu Says:

    Terrific article, thanks.

    We also believe everyone needs to know how to cook at least few basic meals and encouraged everyone to do , dumped in cake mix, plugged in the mixer and let 'er rip on fastest speed. Big Mess.

    I b melieveeal planning is my most dollar saving effort. I think the trick is creating a routine. My mom kept it simple, easiest meal on busiest day, biggest meal on Sunday, one 'plan-over' meal that used leftovers and if the entree was something we didn't like, the dessert was super special. I asked everyone for their 5 favourite meals and do some version in rotation. When working, I needed to know what I'm making for dinner before I walk into the house. Now, I prefer to prep dinner as part of bkfst clear up. This summer I'm using up foods in pantry, freezer and deep freeze, buying only fresh produce and dairy and minimal items.

    Rather than roasting some type of meat, DH is grilling on Sundays, Wednesday is often vegan. I've a long list of 'plan-overs,' freshly made but combinations that are rice, potato, kashi, quinoa, barley, pasta, bread/bun/tortila/crepe/pita, bean or salad based.





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