Well, no snow here in north Alabama today. Jamie is thrilled because a “snow day” would have meant diving into his PTO time, but the girls and I were looking forward to a neighborhood snowball fight. 😉 Oh well! That’s Alabama weather for ya!
Today’s post is one that I’ve wanted to crank out for a while, and it’s all about eating more meals at home without sitting down and doing a ton of intentional meal planning (not my favorite thing).
Whether one is trying to save money or generally eat healthier, both are great motives to eat more meals at home.
Our drive to eat more meals at home actually didn’t stem from either of those reasons though. It goes back five years ago to parenting a newborn for the first time who was fussy more often than not (we still have no idea if it was true colic or not), and her fits in public sent our anxiety through the roof. She was a tough cookie to soothe, so we stayed out of restaurants if we could help it! We realized pretty quickly that we were unexpectedly saving a ton of money ($7 here and $20 there really added up!), and we also were a-okay with feeling healthier too.
Eating at home has now become a way of life and something we find pretty easy to do. Though it does take some daily intentional work to make eating at home the norm, with these tips I believe every family could be eating around their kitchen table more often together.
Tips for Eating More Meals at Home
Keep cooking essentials stocked.
You don’t have to sit down and weekly meal plan in order to cook a bunch of dinners at home. Just make sure you’re stocked on your basics, and once you use a basic, immediately re-add it to your list for your next grocery trip.
Having cooking essentials on hand means that you’re ready on any given day to pick any meal in the cookbook and get to work! Every week we make sure to have staples on hand such as milk, eggs, chicken, ground beef, chicken stock, flour, sugar, shredded cheese, butter, diced tomatoes, sour cream, pasta, spaghetti sauce, onions, breadcrumbs, etc. This combinations allows us to whip together super quick meals in a pinch. As soon as I see that we’re running low on one of these items, I jot it down on a magnetized list on my fridge so that we’re sure to always have these things on hand.
Chop in bulk.
Having fruits and veggies already diced up making throwing together meals even more simple! If you only need half of an onion for a recipe, go ahead and chop up the rest since you have the knife and cutting board already out. Then, you’ll be more likely to cook a more tasty meal next time since your onion is already cut up (or spontaneously enjoy more savory eggs by tossing a few in your scramble!)
Also, if you’re cutting up a few strawberries for a side with breakfast, go ahead and slice up the rest. Plus, you’ll be more likely to eat your fruits and veggies if they’re cut up ahead of time.
Personal note: I am not a big “food prepper” and never cut up fruits and veggies ahead of time without intentions of using/eating them right then. I just usually finish chopping up the rest of whatever I’m cutting up since everything is already out. Might as well take the extra two minutes to chop up the whole pepper instead of just the half you need right then.
Pick out what’s for dinner as a part of your morning routine.
When you’re running around the kitchen in the morning fixing your family breakfast, making lunches, unloading the dishwasher, etc. try to think about ideas for dinner that evening. What do you have going on that night and how much time will you have to cook? No clue what you want to make and don’t have time to think about it? Go ahead and set a packet of chicken on the counter to thaw. When you get home that evening, you can either cook it up for whatever meal you’ve thought of, or you can quickly season it with a ton of spices and throw it in the oven for 22ish minutes with a bag of steamed veggies or potatoes on the side. Dinner is done!
Cook enough to have leftovers.
I almost always double everything I’m cooking so that we have enough for leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. Leftovers are so quick and easy to eat. Jamie almost always takes leftovers to lunch for work, which he likes because this means that packing his lunch takes two seconds. We use glass storage containers that are microwave safe, which makes taking and reheating leftovers at work really easy.
Find a few meals you really like and look forward to eating.
Have a few go-to meals that are frequently in your rotation for days that you just don’t want to think about it (we all have “those days”.) Meals such as homemade pizza, crockpot chili, Jamie’s grandmother’s meatloaf recipe, chicken parmesan, pork tenderloin, spinach salads, and more are all meals we know are safe, easy bets that we can whip together without a recipe (because we make them that often, haha).
Have go-to “non cooking” meals.
Though we eat dinner at home six out of seven days a week on average, I never cook “decent” meals more than than three to four nights per week. On the nights that we eat at home but I haven’t cooked a “cookbook meal”, we’ll eat things like frozen pizza, turkey and cheese sandwiches with sliced veggies, grilled cheese, frozen black bean burgers, etc. Though we usually finish leftovers for lunch, we’ll occasionally eat leftovers for dinner the next day too. Neither of us mind eating the same thing multiple meals in a row.
Bonus: Eating at home as often as we can means that we almost always say yes when we have the chance to eat a meal out with friends or family. We try to use out dining out budget for social circumstances or as an occasional treat for the family after a fun outing, if that makes sense. 🙂
Psst: If you need a little motivation for eating at home more, pull up your financial accounts and add up how much money you’ve spent on eating out throughout the month of January. Add up every coffee, dessert run, fast food lunch, etc. We’ve done this a handful of times when we are revisiting our budget, and it makes us sick every. single. time. when we think back to how many of those purchases could have easily been avoided by simply planning to eat at home. Hundreds (!!!) of dollars. It’s crazy!
What are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to eating more meals at home?
What additional tips do you have that help your family eat at home more?
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to two little girls (ages 5 and 2) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo