Make home cooked meals more enjoyable

Replacing the Restaurant with Home Cooked Meals

by Veronica Bowman

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Better "Fast" Food

Eating at restaurants, fast food locations, and buying take out is expensive. Often, the cost does not justify the convenience that it is believed to be. When trimming the budget, dining out becomes more of an occasional treat than a regular part of the daily or weekly routine. Consider this change as an opportunity to eat healthier, discover new foods, and enjoy more time together as a family.

As with all things, approaching change in a positive manner makes the process much more pleasant and successful. If you have made a commitment to drive by fast food temptations and to visit restaurants less often, there are several tips you can follow to make the transition easier and more rewarding.

Find the Table

If your dining table or kitchen eating area is cluttered with daily debris, clear that space. Your dining table should not be used as a collection point for things such as mail, homework, papers that should have been filed long ago, toys, games, and other items that never should have been put there.

Create an Inviting Space

If your dining area has been neglected for some time, you might want to give it a facelift to make it more inviting. A fresh coat of paint could quickly transform the room. Stretching the budget to repaint the dining area would be money well spent.

In addition to, or instead of, painting, you can buy some new accessories, such as chair cushions, area rugs, window treatments, placemats, tablecloths, and napkins to brighten up the area.

Help Kids Adjust

Most of the time, when the household budget has to be trimmed, it involves an adjustment for everyone. Kids who are accustomed to fast food meals might not be very happy to discover they will be eating "real" meals at home due to budget cuts. You can make the transition more fun for them by letting them become an active part of the transitioning process.

Let your kids make a suggestion box for home cooked meals that can be kept in the kitchen or dining area. Use the suggestion box for all family members to write a request for a certain food item or menu plan that they would like to have. Check the box before planning your weekly menus and preparing your grocery list. Be sure to incorporate family requests fairly and as frequently as the budget and your preparation time allows.

Frugal Shopping

There are numerous resources available to help you shop for groceries when the budget is small. Educate yourself on how to be a frugal shopper. The more familiar you become with frugal shopping techniques, the more successful you will be at saving money when shopping. You will evolve into a smart shopper and a creative chef.

Cooking Time

You may have to make some adjustments in your schedule in order to prepare more home cooked meals. Let family members assist you whenever possible. Search out quick and easy menu plans and recipes. There are plenty to be found. Whenever you can find them on sale, buy convenience items that make meal preparation faster.

There are several things you can do to make it easier for you when you commit to eating at home more often. Designate one night as sandwich night, no cooking required. Prepare in abundance so that you will have leftovers for bag lunches and future meals. Become an expert at creating unique salads and one-dish meals. Take advantage of any tips, ideas, or products that save you some time in the kitchen.

Make It Fun

Make home cooked meals fun for the whole family. Designate one night a week as theme night. Prepare a meal with a certain color scheme, cartoon theme, special day theme (you can find a list of special day designations online), or a day dedicated to one specific family member. Occasionally, eat a meal outside on the deck or at a picnic table in the yard. Buy colorful party accessories when they are on sale and use them to liven up a midweek meal.

Enjoy delicious home cooked meals and quality time together around your table.

Take the Next Step:

  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

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