Eating Out vs. Dining In

In today’s society, we are busy. We’re running from place to place and can’t seem to slow down. When we do manage to slow down to eat, fast-food seems so appealing: we don’t have to cook, we don’t have to wash dishes, and the food is generally tasty.

However, in addition to our physical health suffering from the greasy, unhealthful fast foods we consume, our financial health may suffer. Taking one look at a credit card statement will reveal just how much money is being poured into restaurants, and those quick trips for breakfast tacos may have added up to much more than what would have been spent if we had just cooked at home.

I get it – time is more important. We stay late at work or are up until dawn finishing an essay leaving no time to cook a meal. We may be on campus all day and not have time to go home to fix a hearty lunch. And when dinner time comes around, we’re just too tired to stand over a stove.

Fortunately, there are ways we can enjoy a home cooked meal without taking much time in the kitchen.

Go shopping. One issue that may arise when you’re looking for food at home is that you don’t have anything to cook. Don’t fall into the trap of fast-food, though. Instead, take a few minutes and write down a general menu of meal ideas for the week and head to the store. As simple as shopping may sound, going to the store is something that some people don’t enjoy. But by getting all the ingredients you may need, you’ll save time later. It’s also a good idea to have a few extra meals on hand you don’t mind eating, like frozen pizza or mac’n cheese. When you’re in a time crunch, you can heat up the food and enjoy it within a matter of minutes.

Casseroles. There are a variety of casserole recipes on the internet that are really good. Generally, you combine all the ingredients in a dish the night before, stick it in the fridge or freezer, and then pop it in the oven when you’re ready to eat it. This will save you time and energy when you’re too tired to prepare a meal; just heat it up and it’s ready to go.

Frozen foods. I’m not talking about the pre-packaged trays you find in the freezer aisle, although those may save you money and work well for you. The truth is, you can freeze just about anything and reheat it or let it thaw. Pancakes, waffles, sandwiches and soups are just a few examples. When you have time, you can cook up a batch of whatever food you want for the week, store it in a bag or container and freeze it. This will also help if you often forget about using food and find that it goes bad before you have the chance to enjoy it.

These are just a few ideas to get you out of the drive-thru and into the kitchen. But if you still decide you can’t give up fast-food, look around for coupons. Whether it’s on a phone app, on the back of a grocery receipt or on the bottom on the restaurant’s receipt, you can save money without going out of your way. Bon appetit!