I bet if you made your own meals at home in one go, you’d not only save on dollars, you’d save a ridiculous amount of time too.
I take 2 hours to meal prep for the week, so that comes out to 17 minutes a day I “spend” on making food.
Back when I used to eat out all the time, I probably spent 20 minutes going down to my cafeteria and getting some breakfast. For lunch, I’d either go out and buy some takeout or go to the cafeteria, another 20 minutes at least. For dinner, let’s say it’s another 20 minutes, 5 minutes to decide where I wanted to eat, a 10 minute walk to the place, and a 5 minute wait for the food to arrive.
That comes out to 1 hour a day, or 7 hours a week. I’d guess this is an underestimate though, as there were days I’d spend 20 minutes in one way transportation to find some delicious food on yelp. Considering there’s only 112 hours in a week and I spent at least 6 percent on finding sustenance (and wasting a lot of money), there had to be a better way.
For breakfast I’d make berry-licious overnight oats with nutella and bananas along with a cup of coffee (Keurig machine!) that would cost me $1.56. The mason jar makes the breakfast visually appealing and having my coffee in my sushi mug makes me happy — it reminds me of my trip to Japan earlier this year.
Lunch and dinner consist of the same meal for me and cost $1-$2. I try to eat 1/3 pound of veggies, 1/3 pound of meat, and 1/4 uncooked cup of rice or carbs. If you’re efficient like me, you can buy a rotisserie chicken at Costco and use that as your protein. Every other week I might make a different meat or veggie dish and I usually go to Budget Bytes. This blog shows you all the ingredients and the cost of each serving broken down by ingredient. Each serving is usually less than $2, and the food is always tasty.
The Budget Bytes blog dedicates an entire section of her blog to slow cooker recipes. That’s great for the efficient person, because cooking in a slow cooker involves mostly just putting the ingredients in and letting the appliance do all the work! A few hours later, you have some of the most tender meat imaginable.
For snacks I like savory pepper jack and chorizo sandwiches under $2.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do love getting together with friends for celebrations and hanging out over a cup of coffee, but I’ve now made eating out a social event instead of doing it every day. It makes eating out a special occasion instead of a normal every day event.
For drinks, I just drink water (with the exception of a coffee at home in the morning), and save money that way. You can save so much money by just drinking (free) water!
If you try to optimize spending that you do on a weekly or daily basis, it makes it easier for you to expend less energy on saving money. If you do it over and over, it eventually becomes a habit and once your “memory muscles” focus on savings, it’ll become easier and easier to simply cook at home instead of eating out. It all starts with that one small step:).
What are some of your favorite recipes and hacks to cook cheaper and faster (but still just as delicious!)?
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