Cooking Dinner Made Easy – Make Life Easier Without Eating Out
I have been saying this for years and I just heard it on Oprah so I’m sure that makes it true! Going out to eat is one of the biggest mistakes people make with their money. Most people would experience a radical change in their finances if they would cut back on eating out even a couple of times a week, let alone all together. I think that the main reason that people go out to eat is for the convenience. I hope to show you how eating at home can be convenient, too.
We seem to be people of extremes and that definitely spills over into our thoughts about meals. We have the idea that there are only two choices when it comes to providing dinner for our families. The first is to go out to eat and not lift a finger. The second is to become Betty Crocker, an Amish grandmother and Martha Stewart all rolled into one. Oh! And don’t forget to roll in Mr. Clean for the clean up!
It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. For those of you who are extremely frugal, some of these suggestions might seem wasteful, but if making everything homemade is overwhelming to the point that you won’t be able to keep it up, try some of these suggestions to make dinner easier without eating out.
- Make meals easier by using convenience items. Even if you use nothing but convenience items for your entire meal, it is still less expensive than going out to eat. You don’t need to make homemade bread, muffins, biscuits, or cookies. Buy them already made. You can even buy things like French bread, already sliced and buttered and ready to heat. It’s perfectly OK to use bagged lettuce, baby carrots, or anything frozen.
- Keep it simple. Our grandmothers didn’t spend as many hours slaving away in the kitchen as we think they did. Instead of homemade bread or yeast rolls, the everyday meal included store-bought white or wheat bread on a plate with butter and jam. Grandma would open a jar of applesauce, a can of green beans or a jar of assorted pickles. She would toss a simple salad and have all her side dishes for that meal prepared quickly. For years our family raved about my grandmother-in-law’s great homemade noodles.One day when I asked her for her recipe, she pulled me to one side, laughing, and said “No one else knows this, but I always use frozen noodles!”
Our grandmothers knew the secret. It didn’t have to be complicated, gourmet, or elaborate for our families to enjoy a meal. It just had to be good, there had to be lots of it and it had to be made with love. It takes only a couple of minutes to slice an orange, apple or banana and lay them on a platter. Throw in some unpeeled small red potatoes to boil, slice pre-cooked ham, heat up a box of fish fillets or lay out a variety of deli meats and cheeses for everyone to make their own hoagies. It can be as simple as that.
- Make clean up easy. I line almost every pan I use with aluminum foil or parchment paper, whether I’m roasting a chicken or baking biscuits, cookies or tater tots. I line every casserole dish too. Use paper plates and bowls if it helps. Use disposable pans when you can. You can usually find lots of them on sale around the holidays. Many people feel a lot of guilt connected with using anything disposable. If you are one of them, I give you permission here and now to use these things. Besides, when you eat out, just as much stuff gets thrown away. It’s just that other people throw it away for you. I would much rather see you at home using paper plates and disposable pans with your family than having to work many hours of over time to pay for dinner out. Relax, enjoy your meal. Your family and pocketbook will thank you.
For more practical tips and easy recipes to help you save money on food, check out the Dining On A Dime Cookbook!
Photo by: Dan Kelliher