Too Busy, Tired or Culinarily Challenged to Cook.

At some point during our Spending Death Spiral, our monthly restaurant and fast food spending exceeded $700!  It was a shock when I added it all up.  If we were to resume our fast foodie ways, the amount would be even higher now, since the kids are no longer satisfied with and/or allowed to order from the kiddie menu.

It was clear that we needed to severely cut our dependence on restaurants.  It was challenging for me since I do 96.9% of the meal preparation in our home.  Planning ahead is the key but there are times when plans go awry.

So, what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner……when I am too busy, tired or culinarily challenged?

Meal replacement shakes

I find these are a great substitute for breakfast when things are too hectic or I have hit the snooze button too many times.  They are great for breakfast on the go and I pack them in our cooler if we are heading out for a family road trip.  They don’t need to be refrigerated, the kids like them and I like that they are fortified.

Crock pot cooking

The crock pot is my new best friend.  On days where I know we will be crunched for time, I throw a few ingredients in the pot and let it slow cook all day.  At the end of the day we have a hearty and hot dinner and only one pot to wash. The crock pot is also great for making lazy polenta.

crock pot messy money

Breakfast for dinner

Breakfast for dinner can be a nice change.  Pancakes, eggs, omelets, bacon and toast –yum!

Batch cooking

Whenever I have to cook anything, I try to cook extra to save as left-overs or to freeze for another day.  Most foods can be portioned into freezable containers or bags and re-heated in the microwave.  I really like to do this with rice.  Just a few drops of water to the bag and reheat for hot fluffy rice.

10 minute pizza

I buy pizza kits with fresh pre-baked crusts and packaged pizza sauce.  I freeze the kits so I know I always have some on hand.  Just add some fresh grated cheese and toppings of choice and you have a really delicious pizza in no time at all.  My kids just love it and it’s faster than delivery.

Barbeque

Everything tastes better when it is cooked on the grill and you can cook just about anything on it.  Food requires very little prep and cooks in a flash.

Pasta

This is my family’s favourite quick meal.  I buy different types of pasta and sauces to keep it interesting.  Hubby and I have fallen in love with basil pesto.  For some additional protein, I add some meatballs or ground meat and freshly grated  parmesan cheese.

Just so you know, in 2012 our average monthly restaurant and fast food spending was $145.34 and for 2013 so far, has been $162.04.  Not perfect but a huge improvement.  It is still a work in progress, sometimes I still feel too tired to cook.

So, what’s for dinner?

photo credit: Tobias

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