The Mind of Bluesleepy

Cheap McCheapie 5 January 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluesleepy @ 10:34 pm

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!!


10 Responses to “Cheap McCheapie”

  1. twisterjester Says:

    Smart move. I’ve been known to do the same thing. Nothing to cure the eating-out-itis like having dinner waiting for you at home 😉

  2. Poolie Says:

    If I COULD cook, I would do it more often. Alas, I am a toasted bagel queen. Glad you like my spikes! They are so much fun!

  3. art Says:

    i have gotten into a very bad habit recently and i need to stop it, but ya know, its ALMOST like quitting smoking!!! ACK!!!
    i work monday, wednesday, and friday, and overnight saturdays. recently, i been buying the meatball sub at caputos, thats meatball, coke, chips, 9.89. reading this got me thinking.
    ACK!!!! sometimes i get lazy and grab a breakfast sammich, then the coffee. thatsanutter 6 bucks. saturday nights, i been buying supper. tonight was 14.00 spagetti dinner. most sunday mornings, i get breakfast on the way home, 10-20 dollars, depending if i get a buffet, or a regular breakfast.
    ACK!! ok tally the totals!!! lunch is about $30 a week. sometime breakfast sammich is another $20. then avg $30 for sat night/sunday mornings, thats ALMOST 100 dollars of eating out!!! A WEEK!!!!!!
    them pennies add up!!

  4. clairec23 Says:

    We’re on the same buzz at the moment. He gets stuff in a really cheap supermarket on his way home from work and I make sure he gets all of the nice tasting stuff that just happens to be cheaper in that shop. We waste a lot of money on food. It’s my fault most of the time because I can never be arsed trying to think of something to make. I really need to get me a slow cooker though…I’d love that!

  5. sleepyjane Says:

    Ohhh. Food. Mmm. 🙂 I’m actually pretty picky about what I eat so it’s hard when my dad does cook. If I don’t like it I eat bread and that’s also very unhealthy. I love pastas, in any shape way or form.

    Oh and we don’t have any of the restaurants you mentioned in your entry. *sigh* I’d love to have a Taco Bell here.

    As for your question you would say our currency as Rand. Ex: Forty Thousand Rand. One Dollar is equal to about seven Rand. Give or take.

  6. Michele Says:

    another suggestion to eat out “cheaply” (when the urge hits), you and Kurt could share an entrée. unless i’m craving seafood, Ben and I try to do that, too. or, sometimes (like Friday night) i got an appetizer for my meal. not only was it less expensive than an entrée, but the portion size was better.

    Ben and I actually now go out to lunch during the week than any other time… it’s hard to turn down your boss when he offers to give you a break from your desk and have a meal together. Trust me, no matter how yummy the meal is that I have packed for lunch in my cooler, it’s just not fun to sit at your desk and eat.


  7. clairec23 Says:

    This isn’t the slightest bit on topic here but I just had to say this. I just watched that video of Grace that’s on the top of your flickr thingy there (so cute btw) then I saw you had other videos of her so I showed them to Liam (he learned row, row, row your boat yesterday) and he was so confused, he kept trying to say hello to her, I can’t stop laughing at him. He was trying to sing along with her to the abcs, it was so sweet. That’s a really good idea by the way putting all of those clips up. It takes too long for me to reformat the videos and upload them for some reason.

  8. MilitaryMom Says:

    I agree, eating out is just such a waste of money. We rarely eat out anymore, bu that’s just because we live 15 miles from the closest town and its inconvenient. When we lived in SC we ate out 3-4 nights a week! And we can’t afford it. I love my slow cooker, and I have found a lot of new recipes since moving here to ND. Hava a great Sunday!

  9. Aimee Says:

    Stealing your recipe. I think I could win Iron Chef Aimeepalooza with flavor, use of random food, and staying calm (slow cooker…helllloooow???) Perfect.
    That is exactly why I cook like 4Lbs of food at a time. I can buy in bulk and I am less tempted to go out when I have quick easy left overs to use. Also, anything with a lot of seasoning is better the next day. The seasoning really soaks into the food. (Careful because garlic can get super strong.)

  10. whatdayisit Says:

    That’s a great way to save money and know that the food you have prepared is safe too. I often wonder how some people can afford to eat out all the time. We don’t but I don’t always cook either. We get into the bad habit of sandwiches or hotdogs….none of which are really good for you or even that appealing. My husband doesn’t like any mixed food so using a slow cooker is out as far as his taste is concerned.

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