Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday's Tip: In the Kitchen

Welcome to Tuesday's Tip- a new series of useful money saving tips to help you in all areas of life. My goal is to focus on one area of our daily schedule and explore ways to save money within that area. Hope you find the tips useful and helpful for a money saving budget.

We all know that going out to eat or getting take out is expensive and we can probably all agree that we should limit or avoid incurring this additional expense. But when it comes down to our everyday busy schedule and endless chores/errands to do, we fall victim to "eating out again" even though we try so hard otherwise. I experience those days too where the errands, appointments, homework, laundry and extras (that always come up) cause me not to have time to make dinner. Here are some tips I came up with that help me.

1) During those nights you are cooking, double the recipe and freeze the other half for another nights dinner. I try doubling many foods I make such as meatballs and will freeze half so that I can just take it out of the freezer, make spaghetti and a vegetable and Hooray dinner is done in 10 minutes.

2) Plan a weekly dinner menu. It can be done mentally by simply coming up with dinner menus for the entire week. This will save you time and money in many ways including avoiding the daily runs to he supermarket for one or two forgotten items. It will also eliminate the daily contemplating of what to make for dinner that night. The biggest benefit for me is that it allows me to save the quick and easy menus for those very busy nights. I usually know what day of the week I will end up being extremely busy whether its Dr's appointments, working late that day and I will save the quick and easy dinner menu for that night. On the other hand it allows me to make the more time consuming dinners on days I have more time to prepare. This will balance out the week with healthy dinners.

3) Stock up the freezer with frozen items that can be used for quick dinners such as frozen vegies, fish sticks, nuggets, hot dogs, french fries etc. and save those items for nights that you are extremely busy and when unforeseen things come up. Obviously, stock up with those foods when they go on sale and use them with coupons to stretch the dollar even more since many of these prepared items usually cost more to begin with.

4) Commit to start something for dinner in the morning hours. Take a short time to review that night's dinner menu and start with some kind of preparation that morning. I will defrost the meat, marinate the chicken/fish or start the crock pot dinner ( another time saving idea in itself). Even things like taking out the baking pans, pots or uncovering the grill will save you much needed time during your busiest hour of your day.

5) Have a leftovers night. Pick a night of the week that you tend to have the most leftovers and start making that night leftovers night in your household. I make Sunday night leftovers night since I tend to cook a lot over the weekend and really enjoy having a night off on Sundays. I actually plan for those leftovers when I do my cooking those couple of days before.

6) Understand that there is nothing wrong with eating out if it is cost friendly and healthy. Clip restaurant and fast food coupons whenever you can. Plan to go during less expensive days or hours. Look for kids eat free restaurants and don't over order just because you are starving when you walk in the door- you can always order more later.
Hope these saving money tips come in handy and continue reading my blog daily for the latest in savings.

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