10 ways to save!
Avoid the Online Take-Out Meal Trap
by Joanne Guidoccio
Cook Ahead Meals
Baking Day on the Weekend
Make Your Own Convenience Food
Accordingto a study conducted by Butterball.com, the average American spends approximately $1,100 on online takeout each year. Over 50 percent of the people in the study admitted using apps like Seamless and Grubhub to order at least one to two times a week. Their top reasons for ordering online include cravings, laziness, and not knowing what to cook.
All this fine and not-so-fine dining can increase waistlines, sabotage health, and drain wallets. Regardless of the food ordered, we will consume more saturated fats, sugar, and salt than we would in our own home cooking.
While breaking the cycle of takeout can be challenging, it is possible to become more selective and mindful when making food decisions.
Consider the following suggestions:
- Stop thinking of cooking as a labor-intensive and time-consuming task. Many whole-food meals can be prepared in the amount of time it takes to order and pick up food or heat and serve convenience foods.
- Learn or brush up on food preparation and kitchen techniques. Knowing basic knife skills, best heating temperatures for pots and pans, and how to use the food processor and other kitchen tools can simplify your time in the kitchen.
- Organize your kitchen space by getting rid of old appliances and ingredients. Stock the pantry with healthy ingredients such as olive oil, canned tomatoes, frozen fruits and vegetables, eggs, garlic and onions, whole grains, canned beans, and hard cheeses. When you have a variety of healthy staples on hand, both planned and impromptu meals are easier to prepare. After each shopping expedition, take the time to put away all the items and wash and slice your produce. This will cut down on cooking time.
- Make your own takeout. If your family has a favorite like burgers, wings, or pizza experiment with different recipes until you approximate the food.
- Select a cookbook that contains basics and appeals to you. Before making a financial investment, borrow the cookbook from your local library. Some suggestions include How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats, Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and How to Boil Water by Food Network Kitchens.
- Search the internet for recipes and advice. Visit Epicurious, Plummelo, or The Reluctant Gourmet. If you are a visual learner, visit YouTube for short cooking videos.
- Read the recipes carefully and take note of the preparation and cooking times. At first, you may need to add extra time, but as you become more proficient, you can stick to the allotted times and use the cooking or baking time to relax or complete another task.
- Whenever possible, cook in large batches. You can eat leftovers for lunch or freeze extra servings for time-strapped evenings. If you cook large amounts of a main ingredient like quinoa, you can create several meals. For example, you can combine quinoa with almond or coconut milk and blueberries for breakfast or have it with roasted vegetables for supper.
- Partner up with a friend or relative who loves to cook. Alternatively, you could take cooking classes offered in your community.
- Make cooking a social affair. Get the children involved and invite visiting friends and relatives to help in the preparation. Organize weekly potlucks or an informal supper club with three or four other families.
Try AmericasTestKitchen.com free!
Receive full access to the America's Test Kitchen TV recipe collection.
Buy groceries, earn cash back at Checkout 51
For 31 years, Joanne Guidoccio taught mathematics, computer science, business and career education courses in secondary schools throughout Ontario. Her articles, book reviews, and short stories have been published in newspapers, magazines, and online. She has bachelor's degrees in mathematics and education and a Career Development Practitioner diploma. Visit her website at JoanneGuidoccio.com
Take the Next Step:
- Think about the last few times that you ordered take-out. What could you have done instead? And, how much would you have saved? Decide to do it different next time.
- Discover smart ways to fill your freezer with quick meals for busy evenings by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
- Learn how to make your own convenience foods.
- It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.