(NaturalNews) In an age where the prevailing economic system often requires both parents working full time just to make ends meet, it's no wonder so many families eat out. The Fiscal Times reports that consumers now spend almost 4.5% of their total income on dining out, and now there's even more motivation. With grocery prices increasing at a rate of 6% a year, 2.5 times as fast as restaurant prices, sometimes it can actually be cheaper to dine out rather than eat at home. Restaurants are able to stave off inflation, for now, by buying in bulk and taking advantage of the high unemployment rate by hiring younger workers at lower wages. The article outlines 6 restaurant meals, from Outback to The Cheesecake Factory, where the cost of eating out was less or very close to the cost of purchasing and cooking the same meal at home.
While there are still many tremendous advantages to eating at home as a family, including cost if done correctly, trends like this leave consumers with even less motivation to trade in that high-caloric, low-nutrient, easy meal out for a healthy, home-cooked meal around the family dinner table. Consumers who eat out often should consider their health and that of their family. Most restaurant food is just processed food that has been heated up, full of cancer-causing chemicals and lacking nutritive value. In the overall scheme of things, cooking good, wholesome foods at home instead of eating out is a bargain on many levels!
Some tips to ensure dining at home will always be a bargain
1.) Keep a full pantry of staples and cook from scratch. Sure it's more work, but it's much cheaper and you know exactly what is in the food your family eats.
2.) Take a tip from the restaurants and buy in bulk. A 50 pound bag of a staple is often cheaper than a smaller package. Also, if you spot something you use on sale, buy enough to last until the next time it goes on sale. Buying in bulk not only lowers cost, but minimizes trips to the grocery store.
3.) Hone your cooking skills. Always be willing to learn something new or to try something you never have before. Take a cooking class, learn from a family member, or just read some cooking books and give it a shot. Cooking is contagious, and fun!
4.) Plan your meals. Plan your menu for the week or even longer. Then buy everything you need in one trip.
5.) Make enough for two days (or more) and freeze the rest for another day.
6.) Have some basic, go-to meals that are both easy and favorites of you and your family. Sometimes, in a pinch, you will just need something fast and dependable to avoid the restaurant siren's call.
7.) Add variety and excitement to your meals. Cook with lots of spices. Learn how to make your food taste good and you'll always want to come back for more. Try something completely new at least once a week. Go to sites like foodgawker.com, pick something that looks tasty, and give it a shot. You might just discover your next favorite dish!
8.) Use a crock pot. So many great things can be cooked with a time-saving slow cooker. Start a meal that morning and let it cook the entire day, ready for when you get home!
9.) Keep a clean, organized kitchen. This probably sounds very basic, but you aren't going to want to cook in a dirty, unorganized kitchen. After each meal, the kitchen should be fully ready for the next. In the long run this will keep time spent there to a minimum.
About the author: Scott is a blogger, writer, and researcher whose primary focus is how to raise healthy kids despite a system and status quo that makes it as difficult as possible. He and his wife, Kim, live in the hills of east Tennessee with their four small children. He holds an MBA from East Tennessee State University. Scott and Kim blog about parenting, marriage, healthy lifestyle, nutrition, and homesteading at www.amorefieldlife.com. Connect with them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amorefieldlife.
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