Today Kurt craned his head over the armrest of the couch and asked, “What do you want to do today?”
Seeing as it was 11am and I was still in my nightgown, nursing my second cup of coffee, I had no answer for him. But while I was in the shower, I had an idea! Let’s go find somewhere to go take photos!
By the time I was showered and dressed with my hair done and my makeup on, it was just about time to start thinking about lunch. Lately I’ve been lazy, and most of the time I would say, “Awww to heck with it. Let’s just eat lunch out.”
Then at some point I realized how much money we’re going through just by eating out. It ain’t cheap, people!! Usually we spend at least $20 on the three of us to eat lunch, even if it’s just to Burger King. Subway is a major problem; while I love Subway, I can’t justify the expense. I keep waiting for more coupons to arrive in the mail or in my newspaper, but I haven’t gotten any lately. Subway is only cheap if Grace and I go; she and I used to be able to share a 6″ daily special meal for under $5.
The two places that we can eat out for cheap are Wendy’s and Taco Bell. Fortunately my family really loves both restaurants. We have a discount card sold by my neighbor’s son’s football team that gets us a free item off the dollar menu at Wendy’s, which means I eat for a dollar because two items off the dollar menu are enough for me for lunch. Our bill usually comes to $11. Taco Bell is equally as cheap, running us $12, because my favorite items (a supreme gordita and a double-decker taco) are now on their value menu. I don’t even bother getting a drink at either place because I just take sips out of Kurt’s.
A few weeks ago, Kurt and I were laying in bed, and I told him I was stressing out a bit about how much money we’re going through. We can afford it, but it’s still not a smart thing to do. He and I agreed that what we really need to cut down on is eating out.
Since then we’ve been pretty good about not going out all the time. We did have dinner at a restaurant last night, but we ended up getting enough food that we ate the second half of our entrees for lunch today. Surprisingly enough, our dinner last night was just as good when eating it today! I’d gotten this tenderloin pasta, which featured chunks of beef tenderloin with mushrooms and caramelized onions in a brown cream sauce, served over fettucine. Kurt had gotten a spicy pasta dish. It was almost better today than it was last night!!
Once Kurt and I figured out that we were going to head out today, I knew I had to do something to prevent us being tempted from eating out for dinner. But if I had just come up with a possible meal plan for dinner, it would be too easy to throw the plan down the drain and stop somewhere for dinner.
I got sneaky, I did.
As soon as I got dressed, I headed to the kitchen and started throwing things in the slow cooker. I’ve got this recipe where you layer boneless chicken breasts (although you could easily use chicken thighs for even more economy) on the bottom of the slow cooker, and pile potato chunks over and around the chicken. Then you drizzle your favorite Italian dressing (or any salad dressing that is oil-based) over it all, using about a half bottle. I usually drizzle the salad dressing in stages as I build up the veggies in the crockpot. Set it to cook for 3 to 4 hours on high, or 6 or more hours on low, and you’ve got dinner in a pot. I mixed it up a bit today by adding carrots and onion wedges. The onions turned out amazingly, having absorbed all the flavor from the dressing.
Even though we didn’t get home till 7pm tonight, we had to come home and eat dinner. It was already ready and waiting for us!! I couldn’t just say, “To heck with it!” and eat out. Well, I could… but then I would have wasted tonight’s dinner.
Waste not, want not!
And think about it for a second. Think about how much you spend on a dinner out. Generally we spend between $35 and $50, depending on where we eat, and we don’t even get soda or appetizers most of the time. Then think about how much making a dinner would cost you. I’m getting rather obsessed with this. I have several recipes that tell you how much you’re spending per serving, and usually it’s some ridiculously low number like $2 or $3 per serving. That’s using prices from a regular grocery store too, and any recipe calling for meat is going to run me less money since meat is way cheaper at the commissary than at any other grocery store. So I could go out to a restaurant, even something relatively cheap like Applebee’s, and spend $40. Or I could stay home and whip up some kind of meal that is healthier and more filling, and spend probably $10 for the whole family.
Besides, I like to know what’s going in my food. I’ve got enough time right now that I can make a lot of things from scratch. I don’t do Hamburger Helper; instead I find some recipes that simulate it. I love these two meatball recipes I have, one for Swedish Meatballs and one for Waikiki Meatballs (Hawaiian-inspired and featuring pineapple chunks). I could use pre-made meatballs, but I don’t really trust any pre-made meat products. They use the fattiest part of the meat, and I can’t be sure that various by-products didn’t make their way in while it was being made at the factory. And besides, it doesn’t take me that long to make the meatballs from scratch. I’d have to wait 30 minutes to make the rice for the meal anyhow!
This isn’t to say I judge people who do enjoy eating out. I sure do! Sometimes it’s nice to have someone else prepare the food and wait on you! It’s just that I feel as though my family is spending too much money on going out, and I’d like to save some of it right now. Plus I love to cook; I might as well do it!!