Today I want to talk about something that is very important.
It’s important if you are trying to fill in the gaps of your household budget and save a little bit more money. The biggest thing that I found that most families do that drains their finances is eat out too many times in a month.
When I have a lot going on at work with my blog and the kids are really busy with sports and my husband is traveling a lot, I find that I barely have time to focus on the things I need to do.
So sometimes my go-to tactic is to eat out at restaurants instead of making dinner. :/
Even with quarantines and shutdowns. I find that we still eat out too much because we just order takeout and have it delivered through DoorDash or GrubHub.
In order to save money, we’re on a mission to eat almost all of our meals at home. Or, I should say, I am trying to get into the habit of cooking more meals at home.
Eating at restaurants and ordering takeout isn’t the healthiest for our family.
For the past couple months, I’ve challenged myself to meal plan and make our meals every day at home.
I’ll admit that I don’t LOVE cooking. But I do love meeting our financial goals. 😊
So I’m doing this for our family so we can be healthier AND save money, despite the fact that I don’t like to cook that much.
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!
5 Tips for Eating at Home More Often
On our journey over the past few months of doing this, I’ve learned a few things that I think will help you start cooking at home more days each week.
Keep in mind that I’m mostly talking about dinner here, but the same ideas apply to breakfast and lunch as well.
1) Make simpler meals
I think it’s important to recognize that eating at home every day does not mean cooking every meal.
As a mom we sometimes think that we need to do it all and be everything to everyone. But there’s no reason to be a hero when it comes to meal times!
A simple bowl of cereal or reheated leftovers from the fridge makes just as good of a dinner as a tray of baked chicken with green beans.
You don’t have to be over the top with dinner to eat it at home.
What I’ve started to do is plan in times that we are going to eat new dinners and also plan for times when we’re going to eat leftovers. On top of planning to eat leftovers, we also plan on doing one super simple meal for on our busiest day of the week, which is Tuesday.
By simple I mean “bowl of cereal” or “frozen waffles” easy! I mean it. It’s easy and practical.
Tuesday is the day I have Bible study, work, and 3 sports practices. If I just plan on us having cereal for dinner that night, I never end up “not making dinner” on time. LOL
I find that when I do this type of realistic meal plan we can get to the end of the week without having eaten out at all.
Planning ahead and making sure we had simple options to fall back on when things got hectic is the name of the game! Give yourself a break by planning on having one quick & easy meal each week that requires no prep time – the simpler the better.
The best part of quicker meals is that they are usually cheaper, too!
2) Actually print out a meal plan worksheet and fill it in
This seems simple, but trust me on this.
I don’t know about you, but even if I plan out my entire week and do all the grocery shopping over the weekend, I find that once we get into the hectic schedule of the week, my brain flies out the window!
When I get super busy, I can’t honestly for the life of me remember what I planned to make.
When I have an actual meal plan printed out and stuck on the fridge or in my planner, I can refresh my memory at a glance.
Then I know exactly what the plan was supposed to be and stick to it better!
This is great because the last thing I want to do when we’re trying to save money by eating at home, is to waste money by letting perfectly good food go to waste in the fridge. You can grab the exact meal plan template that I use for my weekly meal planning here >> Free Printable Blank Meal Plan Template
3) Find time to cook
This may seem silly, but the #1 reason I used to not cook is because I didn’t actually leave myself enough time to do this!
Cooking more DOES mean you will be spending more time actually cooking.
If you really really dislike making food, then do your best to find meals to make that are super duper easy. Your dinner menu could be the simplest one ever and you’ll win this challenge!
Nobody gives out dinner awards. Unless you are a chef, the food you eat at home won’t taste as good as the alternative you would have eaten at a restaurant, BUT it will be cheap in comparison!
4) Get the kids involved
If your kids are older than say, 5, then they can honestly help you quite a bit and even cook some of the meals INSTEAD of you.
My kids often help me make dinners that are within their skill set.
My 13 year old can make entire meals by herself. My 10yo is really good at chopping vegetables and following recipes. And my 8YO loves working the oven and being my “ingredient fetcher.”
All of my kids enjoy helping me come up with themed dinner plans – you can do it, too, with this list of 63 Weekly Dinner Theme Night Ideas
5) Set reasonable goals and give yourself grace
Keep in mind that if you’re used to eating out many times each week and try to go cold turkey, you will NOT hit your goals at first.
Try to be reasonable with this and you will do better, because we all know that going full force on anything always backfires. You don’t want to lose steam, think you’ve failed, give up and stop trying.
We don’t want to do that, we just want to get better at our finances. Just try to stay motivated one week at a time.
Try your best in week one. If you missed your goal and actually ate out 3 meals when you didn’t plan to eat at any restaurants, then reset a less strict goal of eating out ONLY 1 or 2 dinners that week and try again.
If you normally get fast food on your busiest night each week, consider pre-packing dinners to go the night before. Hey, even a dinner of snacks is better than nothing if you’re really strapped for time & creativity.
With practice you will eventually figure out what is easily attainable for you and your family! Eating at home really is more enjoyable for our family that going to a restaurant.
Other Tips for Saving Money for Your Household
I hope you like this post and I hope it helps you in your journey to figure out ways to eat more meals at home.
I have many posts related to saving money that you might like:
- How to Survive Financially When Life is Uncertain – tips from a CPA to help you navigate the pandemic and beyond
- The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Finances – absolutely the best thing I’ve ever done for our family finances
- The Home Management Success Kit – 50+ meal planning, cleaning, and financial worksheets to get your home in order
- The Only Budget Spreadsheet You’ll Ever Need – a wonderful resource if you love Excel and want to have a done-for-you file to jump right in!