Eat at home without “cooking” a meal

As new year’s resolutions, I’m hearing from so many who are promising to eat more meals at home instead of going out or calling in for 2011. I hope they really do it, as this can really save a ton of money!

As CEO of www.TheGroceryGame.com, I am always focused on ways to save money in all things. But my strategies must also be about saving time, having good quality, and without sacrifice. Whether single or with a family, we don’t always have time to cook a meal, and tend to eat out for lunch and dinner too often. In fact, singles often spend more on food than a family does, because they tend to eat out too much. But you don’t have to. Eating out is a huge drain to the wallet!

Here are three easy ways to get dinner on the table, without having to “cook”. 

#1. Make friends with your slow cooker. This is the most important appliance in the home for people with busy lives struggling to get meals on the table. And if you don’t have one, get one! Pronto! Throw in a roast with carrots, potatoes and onions in the morning (10 minutes tops!), and dinner will be served effortlessly. Make a habit of doing a slow cooker meal at least twice a week to save about $60 a week for a family of four vs. eating out on those two nights. Or for one person, eating the leftovers 6 nights from those two crockpot meals, and only eating dinner out once a week, a savings of about $100 a week. Google recipes on the internet for plenty more ideas. You’ll thank me later, and so will your pocket book!

#2. Stock up on frozen dinner entrees. My favorite is the family size lasagne. I buy the Safeway (store brand) on sale with store coupon for $6.99 (serves 10), as a back up plan for unpredictable busy days. There’s a limit of three at that price. So of course, I stock up on three! And they’re just as delicious and healthy as I can make myself! Pop one in the oven, toss an easy salad, and your “no cook” dinner is delicious and ready to eat! This applies to cooking for one as well. Cook one, and eat it for leftovers. Even if you only eat it for two or three meals, it’s still cheaper than going out to dinner two or three times!

#3. Always cook double and freeze one. If I make meatloaf, it’s just as easy to mix up two. Freeze one for later when you have a busy day, and no time to cook. Same goes for soup, casseroles, or almost anything else you make. Always make two and freeze one for a busy day.

Bring a lunch, without “making a lunch” – Those who eat out at work five days a week may spend about $100 a week on lunches. No time to make lunch? There are countless sales on the frozen healthy entrees made by a number of food manufacturers for low cal, low fat, high fiber, more vegetables, etc. These go on sale for $2 each all the time. Buy a bag of lettuce and cherry tomatoes or other super easy veggie to throw in a salad. Heat your meal in the break room, with a good book and enjoy not rushing to get lunch. And if you do this just three of the five days a week, you can enjoy savings of about $50 a week! That’s $200 a month in your bank account!

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