The 30 day food challenge is over!! And if you follow on Facebook...you will see that we cheated on the last day and ordered a pizza;) Oh well...no one's perfect and after one month...it tasted amazing;)
I learned a lot through this challenge. It taught me to think before just throwing my hands up in the air at 5pm when the family is hungry and going out. It made me be more responsible and fulfill part of my roll as a mom and wife by providing meals for my family. Basically...it made me grow up and stop blaming my lack of cooking on "our busy lives" or "the weather" or "the kids".
In the end we had more family time at the table, less distractions with going out to eat (and getting ready to go out to eat) and we saved money!
Some tips for cooking consistently at home:
1. PLANNING AHEAD: Instead of just going to the store and throwing things in the cart (hello $200+ grocery bill!), look at your local ads and compile your weekly dinners from what's on sale. I feed our family of four on $50-$60 a week.(and yes...the baby counts....he is packing it away lately!). That is without buying pre-packaged dinners or processed foods. The only things I buy in boxes are cereal and pasta.Every now and then I buy biscuits for donuts or a treat, but cookies and crackers are not staples. Buying fresh veggies (or frozen) and making a dish from scratch is cheaper than buying that nasty lasagna in the frozen food section. Yuck!
2. MAKE ONE MEAL: Okay...so as moms, we can get into a rut of making just what our kids will eat and THEN making our dinner too. No more! This month taught me that my kids eat what we eat. It's either than or an empty tummy. By the end of the month, our 4 year old rarely had an issue with what was put in front of her.
3. WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER: For a few years now, I have streamlined my grocery and cooking days. When I get home from the grocery store, all my produce gets cut up and prepared for snacks or meals. My cereal goes in storage containers and whatever meat won't be used within the next few days will get put in the freezer to ensure it won't spoil.
The second part of this rule is to make more than one meal at once...or prep more than one meal at a time. So, when browning ground beef for enchiladas...brown up some extra for tacos or baked ziti....OR go beyond that and while assembling enchiladas....assemble chili in the crock pot stoneware at the same time and store in fridge until the next day when you place it in the warmer. Heat up the stove top once and get two meals out of it. This is how I made a lot of our meals this month.
4. DON'T BE A LEFTOVERS DIVA: You gotta get over leftovers if you don't like them. They are your best friend! Some dishes are not good for leftovers, but most dishes are just fine when reheated. Get the most out of your money and reuse that meal! I like to use leftover chicken chili as the stuffing for enchiladas and leftover chili in stuffed peppers.
5. FIND WORTH IN COOKING AT HOME: This was the main thing I learned this month. As a stay at home mom...I am guilty of the "does anyone see what I do?" feelings. Especially when I make a meal and my 4 year old tells me it looks gross. You won't get paid for cooking or maybe even told how much everyone appreciates it, but find what makes it worth it for YOU. Maybe it's knowing you are providing a fresh and healthy meal for your family, or that you are saving money for a vacation or to get out of debt. Whatever it is, make it fun! Make a challenge out of it and feel good about yourself for providing that service to the ones you love;)
TOTAL SAVINGS THIS MONTH:
$175 (in fuel and eating out) and 6 pounds lost!
The money we saved is enough to buy the Disneyland tickets for my husband and I...AND I'm down 6 more pounds before the half marathon!!
Thanks for following along for the last 30 days;)