According to the National Restaurant Association, “Americans currently spend 43 percent of their food dollar on food prepared away from home, compared to 36 percent in 1981.” And that percentage is considered likely to increase in the future. National Restaurant Association statistics show that, even in the depths of the recession, customers have maintained their frequency of eating and ordering out. True, they are probably spending fewer dollars on each occasion (one reason why restaurateurs may feel things are worse than they are) but they’re obviously reluctance to “brown bag it” or stay at home, even in the face of declining real disposable income.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have tons of money to spend on eating out every day. I know the Money Saving Queen would agree with me. You can save more money by shopping smarter and if you are really itching to go out to eat, she has several great deals to save you money at restaurants.
In the meantime, let’s find some shortcuts in the kitchen. Taking a few steps can save you a lot of time making dinners at home if you know a few secret tips. We are all busy, busy and don’t have enough time in the day to make dinner from scratch or spend an hour trying to make dinner after you get home from soccer games.
I know Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but Sunday afternoon is the day I like to get ahead of the game. Here are some Sunday Shortcuts to Organizing Meals:
I brown all of my ground beef and put it into a few freezer bags. I don’t measure anything out…scary I know, but I scoop the browned hamburger into a freezer bag for what I think is enough for several dishes. In our house we make tacos, hotdishes (Minnesota talk) or casseroles (for you Oklahomans). I make a freezer bag for spaghetti, BBQ, chili and so on. With your hamburger already done, it takes no time at all to make a casserole, spaghetti, or tacos. Not only are you saving money by not going out but you are able to be at home and this will give your kids some extra time to do their homework! It’s a win/win!!
The next time you are grilling chicken, make a little extra to freeze for chicken quesadillas or put the chicken in your pasta sauce for something new. Sometimes I make a meatloaf ahead of time. I just keep some of the ground beef out, mix all of my ingredients (and the secret one) together and stick it in the freezer instead of the oven.
Another extra thing I like to do on Sunday afternoon is I wash all of my lettuce and put it into a Ziploc bag. Nothing drives me more crazy then wanting a salad for dinner and having to clean all of the lettuce. I just want to be able to throw it in a bowl and start adding lots of toppings. I also cut up my fruit and put it into storage containers so that it is ready to go as well.
None of this is rocket science and some Sundays you may not have time. These are some ideas/tips on some very useful shortcuts to make your busy day less busy. I wonder what you could do with the money you will save from eating out less for dinner?
Want to read more of my “Clear the Clutter” posts? You can find them under Organizing and Cleaning Tips.
Author Michelle Lehman of Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”Michelle is a Professional Organizer in the Tulsa area. Her articles have been featured in the Tulsa World, The Oklahoman, and The Chicago Post-Tribune. Michelle appears on Fox23 News DayBreak giving organizing tips and recommendations.