I love the wonderful mommies and blogger who make everything from scratch and save tons of money by making everything themselves. Sometimes, I am one of them and then there are the other 29 days a month rest of the time when I’m just not. When my workload increases or I go through a very busy season there are things that I just can’t stay on top of, and making everything everything from scratch is one of the first things to go. That doesn’t mean I really have the money to just eat whatever fast food sounds good when dinner time rolls around – that isn’t healthy anyway. So I’ve developed and discovered some things that help me stay balanced between having
Eating out, the smart way. I am not going to get into being conflicted about eating out because of the chemicals and the junk that I’m feeding my family, because you know what? Sometimes you just do what you can to get through. My friend Lindsey wrote an awesome post that went viral a while back How We Eat Out for Less than $30 for a Family of 7. I learned a lot from her post about her strategies and it’s really helpful. Tell her Christina from Youthful Homemaker sent you and leave her some comment love…bloggers love that! 😉
Stupid simple lunches. We do lunches pretty simply at our house. Of course, the easiest (and laziest!) way is to just make big dinners and eat leftovers for lunch. If you don’t like my husband Ian and hate eating the same meal a few times in a row you can freeze lunch-sized portions, then just pack them for days out. We love using these containers to pack Ian’s lunches in, so he can just grab something on his way out the door in the morning and not have to worry about making himself lunch. I also don’t have to make complicated meal plans… but I digress.
- PB&J – served on bread (duh) or on tortilla shells
- Mac and cheese
- Canned soups
Buying freezer meals. While I’m all about some freezer cooking, sometimes the freezer runs low and my family still needs to eat. While Ian is a great guy, if I tried to feed him a PB&J for dinner he would laugh and make himself something else. A lot of times I can pretty quickly find an e-coupon or printable coupon so I’m paying a premium for these meals. They aren’t the most frugal option, but they are still cheaper than eating out. Our favorites are:
- Stoffer’s lasagna
Buying a huge party sized lasagna means we’ll have leftovers for a few days, something my family doesn’t mind at all with lasagna!
- Frozen pizza
- Bertolli’s frozen meals in a bag
These can be cooked in a skillet in less than 15 minutes. AWESOME SAUCE.
Have some easy ‘dump it’ meals that don’t require a lot of prep. My favorite meals for nights when I find myself without a meal for dinner or lunch include:
- Spaghetti (also one of our favorite budget-friendly recipes)
- Tortellini soup
- Pressure Cooker Chili
- Roast with potatoes and carrots
- Red Bean Taco Soup
and there are a ton of other meals I have saved on Pinterest boards, here are a few of them.
Start delegating. If you have older kids, then having them make your meals is a great way to train them so they know how to cook (something they should know anyway!) and then you’ll have a meal you didn’t have to make at all. When I was a preteen we started off being assigned something like a method, like the crock pot or the pressure cooker and she only supervised us minimally. After a while she let us pick the meal and we did everything completely independently. It worked for her and taught me things I wouldn’t have normally learned, like using the pressure cooker.
Use ecoupons and rebates for items you’re going to buy anyway. If you shop at Kroger or one of their affiliated stores, then they have a super easy to use online interface, or Kroger has an iPhone app, I’m not sure about their other sister stores. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve loaded a coupon on and then noticed later that I saved a little money because I forgot about the coupon and ended up buying the item at a later shopping trip. It’s not a lot, but if you’re brand loyal it can add up to a lot. I do this during
What do you do when you’re in a busy season and don’t have time to make everything from scratch?