It’s easier than most people think to make quick and easy home cooked meals! You can save money on food and your family will enjoy better meals! Here are 9 easy ways to make quick meals!
9 Ways To Make Quick And Easy Home Cooked Meals
OK — There’s no way around it. Just accept the fact that tomorrow your family will eat three meals — again. People have been doing it since Adam and Eve started munching fruit in the garden of Eden. Burying your head in the sand and not thinking about it will not make it go away. I know that even the thought of making home cooked meals strikes terror in some of your hearts and the only reason the rest of you aren’t feeling terror is because you are probably so tired you can’t feel terror or any other emotion. But considering that going out to eat is one of the top 3 causes of credit card debt and child obesity and with diabetes on the rise, I think we need to start reconsidering cooking at home. With a little preparation, it’s easy to prepare quick and easy home cooked meals.
Here are a few easy suggestions to help you get started making home cooked meals:
- One of the biggest reasons people hate home cooking is their dirty kitchens. Take the time to clean and organize the kitchen. If you need to get some help, then do, even if that help means hiring someone to help you get it organized. In the long run, it will pay for itself (probably after the first one or two weeks cooking at home).
- Once your kitchen is clean and organized, keep it that way. When your kitchen is clean it should only take you about 15-20 minutes to clean up after each family meal. For the $40 or more you would have paid plus all of the time you would have spent going out to eat, keeping it clean and organized is time well spent.
- The evening or day before you go shopping for groceries, clean out the fridge and check your pantry. Remember that once it has been organized, if you do minor cleaning and organizing weekly, it won’t take much time. Plan a leftover night that evening (and use up that leftover roast), too. This will help reveal what you have too much or too little of, what you need to use or buy and empty the fridge so you have room for the new groceries.
- Make a week’s worth of menus. Sit down with grocery ads, your recipe file and your favorite cookbook (hopefully that is our Dining On A Dime Cookbook ;-) ). This is a good time to throw in one or two of those new recipes from magazines that you have wanted to try. If you get stumped or you need help to get you started, flip through your cookbooks or recipe files. You will be surprised how much this will help motivate you to make delicious home cooked meals!
- In a notebook, write a weeks worth of menus. You only have to do this for 3 weeks, because at the end of that time you will have 21 menus. You now have almost months worth of planned menus for quick and easy meals (since most people will go out at least once a week to eat and have a leftover night once a week this helps to fill in the days for the rest of the month). You can then just use these same dinner menus over and over.
- Don’t restrict yourself by saying that you have to have fried chicken on Monday, roast on Tuesday, etc. Instead, list the meals in categories like elaborate (for the days you have more time) and quick meals (for those “nothing has gone right today, so what can I cook when I am blurry eyed and have only 5 minutes” days). I usually make about 3-4 menus for meals in each category.
- Be flexible. If you get to the grocery store and they have something unbelievable on sale then adapt your menus to save money on groceries.
- Plan what you are going to have for dinner the night before or first thing in the morning.
- Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand and take out anything that needs to be defrosted from the freezer.
- Prepare as much as you can the night before or first thing in the morning to make it quick and easy when you need it. Clean carrot sticks and veggies and make Jello, pudding or desserts. Brown hamburger for a recipe or even make a whole casserole so all you have to do is pop it into the oven. It is much easier and less stressful to do as much as possible ahead of time than to try and do it at 5 o’clock — the busiest time of day (when everyone is tired, fussy and needs your attention). Besides, it is easier to concentrate on preparing 2 or 3 items ahead of time instead of trying to take care of 5 or 6 things for your family meal all at the last minute.
- Give yourself a break. You will be saving a great deal of money by eating home cooked meals, so use some convenience foods like bagged lettuce or sliced and buttered French bread. Line your pans with aluminum foil and don’t feel guilty about using disposable pans or paper plates. We are funny creatures. We don’t feel guilty spending money to go out to eat (where people throw away the trash for you), but feel awful about buying much less expensive disposable pans and paper plates. Go figure.
- Don’t forget the meal is not finished until the kitchen is clean and left ready for the next meal.
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