Guide Easy Gourmet Recipes for the Frugal Cook: Mikey Likes It!

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One client is a fast food place and the other is a fast-casual place. I do make my own frozen pizzas from scratch which is very satisfying!

When temptation hits, I always try to think: would eating out help me get closer to my goals? From either the diet or money perspective the answer is always no. And those goals matter more to me than the in-the-moment craving. I just need to remember these facts! I used to always have some good frozen pizzas waiting. When I make elaborate meals that need to cook for a long time I make extras and freeze like meatballs or bolognese.

Restaurant visits will never be the same again, so that is that taken care off. Also, it is much quicker to run up to the supermarket 5 min away to get a pizza and run it in the oven for 15 min than to wait for takeaway. Why torture yourself?! Having that choice makes it easier to say no to the weekday fast food, and it makes our date nights more special.

By Michael Burwen - Michael Burwen

Then I learned how to cook and challenged myself to regularly try new recipes. Now, the food I make at home is a lot more appealing than eating out, and cooking is kind of a hobby. Then I stepped it up a notch by making freezer meals ahead of time. Fresh bread is a lot more appetizing than a bagel sandwich from the coffee shop.

Someone asked about how to remember to take your lunch to work… My trick is to leave my car keys in the refrigerator with my lunch — problem solved! An old roommate laughed hysterically when she saw me do this the first time, and within two days she was doing the same thing.

FW and I eat hummus and veggies for dinner all the time, so our expectations are similarly low ;! It is our easy and cheap meal for when we do not feel like cooking. So no temptation to stop and get burritos! Also, a family of 6 costs a lot to eat out, even quick food, so that stops me as well! I also pack snacks any time we go out, because I swear the kids are always hungry! Packing snacks will save you every time! Works every time!

If we want something we have to make it. We do takeouts on birthdays usually and then swear off them as we feel awful afterwards. All of these can be cooked from frozen and be on the table in around 30 mins. Homemade chili portioned out and ready to freeze! Usually on a Sunday, I plan and organize for the week.

I generally prepare something soup-like, a casserole, and meat.

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The soups and casseroles are for 2 meals. I bake sandwich bread and maybe a quick bread—always prepared a quick bread and batter for waffles or pancakes when kids were home. A full week has the same meal to reduce prep and then I change it up each week. For week nights I have a few simple ready-to-cook meals that are just as fast as take-out, such as frozen cooked shrimp or fish that thaws in minutes. My son also knows that take-out is a treat and usually is twice a month with coupons! I also cook larger meals and freeze the leftovers so I can pop it out of the freezer for an easy lunch or dinner.

That makes it easy to portion it out for lunches with minimal work.

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I also cook large batches so that we maintain several meals worth of food in the freezer at all times. I always keep a granola bar in my purse for when I need a snack on the run.

4 Meals Anyone Can Make

I always keep a box of mac and cheese in the house for those nights when you just need a quick easy dinner. I carry bottles of water and sometimes cans of coke or juice. I throw meat into the oven to bake first thing so by the time breakfast is over, its done and I can put it in the fridge for later meals.

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We know we never want to cook on Fridays at the end of the work week, so I have been putting frozen pizzas on the menu for Fridays in order to avoid the drive-through. Know yourself and your limitations! My kids, 8yo and 6yo, explained to me the other day that they prefer homemade treats to store bought because we can make several pans of brownies for the cost of one small treat eating out.

Doing this in the evening avoids the morning rush and excuses. I do not go anywhere without snacks. I even take them on hikes around our land! Everything is big enough to last us both for at least meals. Having 7 month old twins has changed how we eat dramatically — no more going to restaurants because of the logistics and we would rather save the money.

We also want the babies to grow up eating healthy, whole food and seeing us eat home cooked meals is a huge part of that.

Easy Gourmet Recipes for the Frugal Cook Michael Burwen Michael Burwen

And when our favorite frozen pizza is on sale I grab one or two because life happens. I peel carrots and place them in water, cut up cauliflower or other veggies, brown ground beef or bake a chicken, make cookies or muffins, portion out my salad greens for work, etc. Then everything is ready to make dinner and work lunches. I have done this for years and it is time well spent. We travel a lot like — 6 months of the year and still eat out rarely. We make our own meals — even in hotel rooms hotel room picnics I call them!

Rinse the beans, heat up the beans in the microwave, add seasonings and salsa, throw the tortillas in the microwave. A healthy, cheap, delicious meal in about 5 minutes. I keep both frozen pizzas and frozen leftovers of meals cooked by Mr. FW in our deep freeze. On hectic nights, we pull out a bag of homemade frozen split pea soup or heat up a pizza. Leftovers are frugal take-out. Have prepackaged meals on hand or cook in large batches and freeze the leftovers. FW and I resorted to our emergency freezer meals and avoided take-out :.

In none of those instances did we resort to take-out because we were prepared with food in our freezer. Eating out is definitely one area Mr. FAF and I have struggled with to lower our expenses. We eat at home most of the time and only eat out once a week. But I still want to reduce the frequency to once a month or every couple of months.

Not having food ready is one reason why we eat out.

FAF and I are Asian, so we usually go to Asian restaurants where they serve foods that are just too complicated to prepare or cook well. However, we have decided to improve our cooking skills by following Youtube videos and possibly taking inexpensive cooking classes. I really love that you and Mr. Frugalwoods have successfully cut your eating out budget to a bare minimum! I agree with you here Ms FAF.

It is totally worth the money to take a cooking class. It is a fantastic way to learn new cooking techniques and open up a whole new world of recipes. These are great ideas! I have not been consistent on freezer meals in the past, but I remember reading your previous post about eating out and immediately stocking up on a few emergency meals frozen pizza, canned soup, etc so that I have at least a few last minute meals on hand. Even if we just plan to head out in the morning, I typically whip up a few sandwiches, add a few sides applesauce, veggies, apples, almonds, granola bars and bring this along with us.

This trick has saved me from eating out several times when we end up deciding to enjoy the day and stay away from home longer than expected. My wife and I love using the crock pot. But, I do agree that eating is out is easily the one part that could always be cut back. My wife and I work opposite shifts so eating out is always a nice thing to do to spend time together. Now with a newborn, I want to get into a better habit of eating out less. Planning ahead!! Meal planning, grocery shopping, taking an inventory of the food we already have at home and need to eat.

Inevitably, if I plan ahead, we eat out less, waste less, and spend less money at the grocery store.