Eating out, although an enjoyable treat, becomes an expensive endeavor if you do it daily. Many people avoid cooking food at home because it seems like so much work. Fortunately, you can enjoy delicious home cooked food daily by following a few tips designed to minimize effort by streamlining preparation.
Choose less time consuming recipes for making food at home. Keep in mind that many recipes may take 30 minutes to an hour to cook, but preparation time is just a few minutes. Slow cooker recipes are a perfect example of this. Prepare the ingredients in the morning or the night before, then toss them in the slow cooker to cook all day while you are at work. Look for recipes with little required hands on time so you feel more inspired to make your own meals.
Make a meal plan. There is nothing more likely to drive you to restaurant food than being tired with no plan for your meal. Sit down each week and make a meal plan so you can make sure you have the supplies on hand to make your food at home. You can make an extensive plan, listing each meal for each day. If you do this, plan the simplest meals for the days you know you will be most busy and tired. If you don't like that much planning, then simply plan out seven meals, keeping most of them simple. Each evening just select the one that sounds most appealing.
Prepare your meals ahead of time. When you do cook food at home, take the time to double or triple the recipe. Package the extra into meal-size servings so you have ready made meals on those evenings when you don't feel like cooking. Soups, casseroles and most main dishes freeze well. Pasta dishes don't, but you can freeze extra sauce so you don't have to whip up a new batch when you are craving noodles. If freezing an entire meal seems time consuming, consider prepping just a few common ingredients so they are ready in the freezer to minimize food at home prep time. For example, chop extra onions, brown extra ground beef or shred extra cheese and store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Shop smart with a list. All your plans for cooking food at home can fly out the window if you don't have the necessary ingredients. Use your meal plan as a guide for making your grocery list. Do your shopping at the beginning of the week so you can make sure you have all the needed items for your proposed food at home. In the morning, check your pantries and make sure you have everything you need to prepare dinner that night. If not, you can easily pick it up on your way home or on your lunch break.
Collect recipes. A good basic cookbook is vital for successfully preparing food at home. These cookbooks should contain instructions for basic foods, such as a cream sauce, as well as a few recipes for more involved dishes. Collect recipes from books, the internet and friends that sound tasty but require minimal prep and cooking. Having a large store of recipes to draw from ensures a diverse diet.