Although eating out is fun, there are many benefits to making meals at home. A main reason is cost. Many restaurants mark up items by more than 800%. For example, according to Restaurants.com, salmon is typically marked up 900 – 1000% and pasta by 600 – 1000%.
That’s a lot of extra money for spaghetti you could probably make in your own kitchen!
However, I understand that it’s not always easy to find time for cooking. After a long day of work or errands, going into chef mode is often the last thing we want to do. Luckily, there are hacks to get in the habit of eating at home more often, saving you money on groceries and saving time.
Stay fueled throughout the day
Don’t end up so starving at 6:30 pm that you’re too hungry to cook. Those are the times you end up at the nearest drive thru. Instead, make sure to take time to eat lunch and enjoy mindful snacks throughout the day. This will keep your appetite at bay until dinner and promote better food choices.
Get plenty of sleep
Sometimes, your body can confuse the feeling of exhaustion with hunger. If your body is very tired, it may make you feel hungry so that you intake fuel for energy. Your body is more likely to request sugars and fats for fast energy rather than healthy fruits and vegetables. Get enough sleep to keep your body balanced. This will also make you less tempted to grab food on the go and more likely to eat meals at home.
Plan meals ahead
Planning ahead makes us more likely to stick to good eating decisions. There’s no, “What should we do for dinner? I guess we’ll just order a pizza.”
Take a few minutes on Sunday to write out your week’s meals. I recommend using a free meal planning calendar to help. Here’s a free, easy-to-use meal planning calendar by AndThenWeSaved.com.
Meal Prep in Batches
Make cooking ingredients and snacks in bulk. For example, on Sunday you can:
- Prepare a batch of black beans (for a good source of very cheap protein).
- Boil 6 – 10 eggs at a time (When it’s Tuesday morning and you’re running to work, suddenly 15 minutes to boil 2 eggs for breakfast is just too rushed).
- Chop vegetables to use in recipes and as snacks (such as carrots, celery and bell peppers).
- Roast your favorite vegetables and potatoes, then simply reheat them through the week as needed.
Make complete meals to freeze for later
Make great meals you can simply reheat later, like these 27 make-ahead recipes that freeze well and make great leftovers. (It’ll take you longer to go through the drive thru than to heat up a meal in your own microwave!)
Use a Crockpot
With a little planning ahead and meal prep, it means you can create the meal the morning of or the night before. Just switch the crockpot on in the morning and, by the time you get home at 6:30 pm, you’ll have a freshly made, delicious home cooked meal. You can find some top crockpot ideas at 30 easy crockpot meals by Family Fresh Meals.
Make cooking fun
Figure out what makes cooking fun for you. Try putting on your favorite music or tuning into a podcast you love. These diversions will make cooking more enjoyable; it’s an easy way to make you eat more meals at home.
Do potlucks instead of restaurant dinners
Have your friends over for dinner. Each person can bring a different part of the meal or different dish. This not only saves money, it usually leads to leftovers for the next day and lets your friends show off their wicked new recipes. If you try your friends pesto pasta salad and find yourself addicted, you can get the recipe right there or ask them to teach it to you. It’ll be one more excuse to cook meals at home, saving time and saving money.
Look into meal plan services
If cooking is truly not your thing; here’s good solution for you: Cook Smarts. They are a meal plan service and food loving organization that’ll send you a new meal plan every Friday, so you don’t have to think about planning for the week. It only costs the small yearly fee. You can learn more about it at the Cook Smarts website.
Have Your Own Cooking Tricks?
Have your own tricks to eat more meals at home? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below; it’d be great to hear your own tips.
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