I hate spending money on eating out when it’s just because of poor planning on my part, and I’ve always admired mothers who have sandwiches, snacks, diced cantaloupe, and other goodies prepared — even for road trips.
This month, I want to challenge myself to prepare ahead for those nights when I just don’t feel like cooking (even if I have a meal planned) and those meal-times when we are out doing errands longer than planned and the kids get hunger-cranky.
Drastically, I want to challenge myself to not eat out at all this month.
When I told Dear about this plan, he raised his eyebrows and said, “Not even at Costco??” Costco runs are somewhat of a family ritual, you see, that inevitably ends with a chicken bake, a Polish dog, and lately, one of those turkey paninis. But for this change-of-habit challenge I’m going to go all the way and say, no, not even at Costco. Yikes!
I want to get into the habit of not eating out by default, and I figure if I make it through an entire month without giving in I will have made in-roads to forming a new habit.
1) Have kid-friendly food ready to go — not just meal-spoiling snack food, but good food, with protein, that will fill them up as well. I will cut up cheese sticks and separate them into bags I can just grab, and I will pick up some healthy meat at Costco for them to munch on as well. Pre-cooking hard boiled eggs, which they love, will also work. Cutting up fruit and veggies, and pre-portioning crackers or bread, will round out the food groups.
2) Be prepared to slap together a PBJ or other sustaining food for Dear and me so we don’t get starved and drawn to every eating out possibility if we are out and about longer than intended.
3) Make enough of whatever food I plan to cook to have appetizing leftovers on hand. This is especially important for the weekends, when I’m often on cooking burnout from the week.
4) Have a few freezer food options at all times, such as Trader Joe’s pot stickers and frozen veggies, for “emergency” meals.
5) Be fine with “scrounging” if there aren’t enough leftovers and food in the freezer isn’t available or appealing. Nothing wrong with grilled cheese and salad or breakfast for dinner every once in a while.
6) Plan ahead with slow cooker or make-ahead meals for evenings when activities run into dinner prep time. This will be especially important when the kids start swim lessons next week.
So who has tips they can share for how they avoid eating out?