Author Topic: Your best solutions against ordering in  (Read 12681 times)

swick

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #50 on: April 17, 2017, 07:23:37 PM »
For us, it depends on figuring out "why" we want to order in or go out. We've discovered there is a couple of different reasons.

1. We got too busy during the day and I failed to meal plan and everything is frozen

2. My decision making brain is fried. I don't mind cooking but seem incapable of making the choice of what to make when I'm starting into the fridge and dinner should be on the table.

3. I don't want to do dishes/clean up after. We do all our cooking from scratch so sometimes I don't mind cooking but the idea of having to clean up after (or before I start cooking I was too busy) is just too much.

4. I spent the day cooking and doing dishes from batch cooking or whatever and I didn't actually plan dinner that night.

Things that we have found work:

 - We have a panini press. We have sandwich fixings in the fridge/freezer. Everything is tastier and fancier hot and toasty.

 - I bulk make an Indian food Curry-base and freeze it. Butter chicken, korma, dal are a really quick meal away and can be made from pantry ingredients.

 - We always have sausages in the freezer. They thaw fast. Sausages, sauteed frozen veggies and Instant mashed potatoes make a quick meal.

 - Instant mashed potatoes (Love the ones from costco that are just potato and salt) also make making fishcakes super easy.

 - We always have some sort of ground meat and corn tortillas in the freezer. We often have a cabbage hanging out in the fridge so slaw and tacos are a super quick meal.

 - Breakfast for dinner, usually eggs, is another quick option many have mentioned. It's a standby for a reason :)

 - We always have frozen fruit on hand for smoothies, some days when we want food and we want it now with no effort, a smoothie is good enough.

 - Egg drop or miso soup. Always have some miso or homemade powdered veggie soup mix on hand so it is literally as easy as boiling water, adding a soup base and whatever bits happen to be in the fridge that need to be used.

ETA: Having a super supportive partner helps. Hubs is always ready to step in and make a decision or help with tidying up/doing dishes while I'm cooking. Teamwork makes such a difference. We also simply ask ourselves if this convenience/taste/whatever is better than FI, and the answer is pretty much always no and gives us the motivation we need not to give into the temptation.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 12:19:40 AM by swick »

MrDelane

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #51 on: April 17, 2017, 08:20:37 PM »
ETA: Having a super supportive partner helps. Hubs is always ready to step in and make a decision or help with tidying up/doing dishes while I'm cooking. Teamwork makes such a difference. We also simply ask ourselves if this convenience/taste/whatever is better thank FI, and the answer is pretty much always no and gives us the motivation we need not to give into the teptation.

That's a great point.  It's really easy to enable each other if you're not careful.

My spouse and I have a similar dynamic.  When one of us suggests we just order pizza (or something similar) the other one usually steps up and offers to take over the cooking, or reminds the other of all the frozen ready-to-go meals we have in the freezer.

By helping keep eachother on task we stop ourselves from useless spending.
Dont' get me wrong, we still probably spend more than we should by going out to eat, but we have a loose agreement that if we're going to spend money on food its going to be intentional, not just because it's the easy solution.


Silkspin

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #52 on: April 17, 2017, 08:32:05 PM »
More great replies, thanks. Will try some semi-healthy, semi-prepped foods - more expensive than staples but still cheaper than delivery. I don't have a Trader Joe's nearby, too bad it sounds great. Visited the in-laws this weekend and there is a Whole Foods nearby but we just didn't have time to go.

I do make mexican and curries, but learning to do these better (so they are delicious enough to forgo the takeout from authentic Indian), and freezing, could do the trick too.

cats

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #53 on: April 17, 2017, 08:49:57 PM »
We always keep eggs on hand. Everyone in the family likes eggs, so that's an easy go-to: omelet, poached egg, fried egg, scrambled egg...etc.  We do a big vegetable prep on the weekends: blitz a bunch of veggies through the food processor (slicing attachment is the best!), roast a few trays to have for the next few days, and store the rest in the fridge to saute later.  I also usually have a few bags of frozen veggies in the freezer.

If I cook rice, I'll cook more than we need right then and portion the rest off into ziplocs in the freezer.  Then we always have rice on hand and can make fried rice for dinner (yum).

Any particular reason you do not have a microwave?  I do find they make the batch cooking thing a lot easier.

But really, the reason we don't order out is that I don't even know what places near us deliver.  It's less trouble for me to cook than to figure that out!

MVal

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #54 on: April 17, 2017, 09:41:47 PM »
Somebody else mentioned pork shoulder and I've got to share a recipe I just made for Easter that is so easy and so blow-your-mind delicious, you've got to try it. Mix a packet of dry, Italian dressing seasoning, a packet of ranch seasoning (look for the dairy-free kind for "dip" not salad dressing) and maybe a packet of brown gravy with a little water and pour it over a pork shoulder in the crock pot. Cook it on low for 8-12 hours, depending on size of your roast and you will have the most bombdiggity pile of meat you've ever eaten! It's easy and you can freeze the leftovers.

Moonwaves

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #55 on: April 18, 2017, 04:08:01 AM »
I do make mexican and curries, but learning to do these better (so they are delicious enough to forgo the takeout from authentic Indian), and freezing, could do the trick too.
Try making a batch of this curry base and freezing it. It's really great. This, some rice, and a few frozen and/or tinned vegetables can make a pretty decent meal really quickly. And because it's frozen in small bun-size pieces, it defrosts quickly.

Another make-ahead thing I do for my sister when I visit (she has a much bigger freezer than I do, one day, when I have a grown-up freezer, I'll do this for me, too) is pastry. Just a basic shortcrust (1xbutter, 2xflour, pinch salt, cold water). I roll it out, put it on top of some greaseproof paper and then roll it up and put it into a giant ziploc bag. They defrost pretty quickly and then she can just add eggs and whatever else to make a quick quiche (bacon and cheese, and spinach and feta are the favourites in her house). You can of course buy something similar in the supermarket to have in the freezer but homemade pastry is just so much better to me.

A big thing for me at some stage was the realisation that every dinner doesn't have to be a big meal. Sometimes I don't want to cook because I'm not even that hungry. In years gone by, I wouldn't look much past the "don't feel like cooking" and would just order something. And then eat it because it was there. But honestly in a lot of cases, a scrambled egg would have been enough. Or a bowl of cereal. So, having eggs on hand and having milk on hand are pretty essential to me. I also almost always have a packet of small pita breads in the freezer - can pop one of those in the toaster and it's enough, too, sometimes. Often just with butter but there are other options if you're really hungry. Dried tomatoes and cheese. Tuna or some other tinned fish (I buy the small tins of sardines in oil and lemon from Aldi). Nut butter with raisins.

Moonwaves

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #56 on: April 18, 2017, 04:09:30 AM »
Forgot to add, throw out any leaflets you may have for local delivery places. You can always find the information online if you really want to order something. Having to look it up rather than just grabbing a leaflet out of the drawer is sometimes the few seconds delay you need to decide to do something else.

lchu

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #57 on: April 19, 2017, 07:31:48 AM »
Take-out continues to be my family's biggest financial leak and it's also the biggest source of frugality friction between my wife and me.

Mostly, it's that we have a cooking style mis-match that makes supporting each other in the kitchen challenging.  My wife is an amazing, spectacular home cook that turns out restaurant-quality food without so much as glancing at a recipe.  Meanwhile, I can generally follow a recipe and get edible food at the end, but there's still the occasional "wildcard" effect where I don't season correctly or over/under cook something.  It turns out edible, but not by much.

The majority of the time are good weeks, when we're well-planned and well-rested.  I'm the sous chef to my wife and we're reasonably happy with the exchange of labor -- prep/clean-up versus cooking.

The whole system goes off the rails, though, and the struggle creeps back in when my wife plans a meal that is more complex than I can manage without a recipe, but then doesn't want to cook it (I feel too out of my depth to take over and get frustrated/resentful about it).  Vice versa, my wife sometimes just isn't interested in the simple meals I plan that I can cook on my own when compared to the huge variety of take-out we can access in our city.

I have a feeling that this will be an area that we are always working towards finding a compromise and balance for!

Aelias

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #58 on: April 19, 2017, 09:08:47 AM »
The biggest help in avoiding take-out was learning to cook acceptable versions of my take-out cravings--pizza, Chinese, and Indian.

Pizza was the big one.  Now, my pizza is not as good as take-out pizza, but it's a great use-up for stuff in the fridge and it's cheap.

Here's the recipe I use for the crust.  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/20171/quick-and-easy-pizza-crust/  I also figured out that I prefer crushed tomatoes straight from the can over actual "sauce"--big time saver.

Also--embrace simple meals!  At this point, I rarely cook for dinner anything that's complicated or makes a lot of dishes.  Those are "project meals" for lazy weekends and special occasions.  Everything else generally takes 20 min or less and is often 5 or fewer ingredients.


Hadilly

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #59 on: April 20, 2017, 06:27:30 AM »
I find that any basic marinara sauce (I usually use TJ organic) works very well as a pizza sauce. It also keeps in the fridge so one bottle can last a couple batches of pizza.

Moonwaves

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #60 on: April 20, 2017, 07:59:42 AM »
Also, forgot the most basic thing, but something that definitely helps. Have a written-down meal plan and (here's the important part) look at it every day. Of course, lots of people may not be as forgetful as I am but this is key. I haven't actually done a meal plan or much cooking over the last month or two, because I've had a very busy period following hard on the heels of a five-week cold (excuses, excuses). Anyway, I was craving salad and bought some the other day. Even washed it as soon as I got home so that all I'd have to do yesterday was put it on a plate, add some dressing and anything else I'd decided on, and I'd be good to go. But, didn't have it written down, had an extremely hectic day, got home almost two hours later than planned and just completely forgot that I had this lovely salad waiting. Didn't even really want Chinese. I'm looking forward to my salad this evening, though. :)

FireHiker

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #61 on: April 20, 2017, 09:21:28 AM »
We try to keep certain easy meals on hand for those nights. For us, it looks like this:

pasta and sauce from Costco (try to keep frozen ground turkey on hand, or frozen italian sausage, quick to thaw and pull together a real meal)
frozen veggies (large bag from Costco) cooked up with Annie Chun's Udon noodles
frozen burritos (biggest cost-saver with our teenager, who can eat a $1 burrito late after practice instead of being tempted to grab something out)
Sometimes we keep a bag or two of Trader Joes frozen something for real desperate nights. Not the cheapest or healthiest, but better than some of the alternatives. This week it was kung pao chicken (with rice made in the rice cooker), much cheaper than take out on our first night back home with bad jet lag.

We are not the most frugal with food, not by a long shot, but we're working on it. All of the options above may not be the cheapest/best, but they are loads cheaper than take-out/ordering in for a family of 5.

LindseyC

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #62 on: April 20, 2017, 09:39:56 AM »
I'm with others on batch cooking. I try to do it Sunday mornings and generally I will cook multiple meals that use like ingredients that I will then freeze in single servings.

As an example when ground beef is on sale I will cook in one Sunday morning: Shepard's pie, meatloaf, stroganoff and homemade hamburgers.  At the same time I pump all my meals up with veggies so I also batch cook based upon what veggies are used in different recipes.

When there is a good deal on inseason veggies that freeze well, I will also chop and cook a huge quantity and freeze. Beets are an excellent example of this, I will buy a 10lb bag, cook, peel and freeze them all in one session because it's just easier and a time saver. Mashed potatoes freeze well too, so when a 10lb bag is on sale, same process.

I keep a list on my phone of what's in the freezer, in what quantity with the date I made it and each night I pull out something for the next night to defrost in the fridge. Typically I freeze in a serving that is good for one dinner and a smaller lunch the next day. I avoid most processed foods but do have the odd item that can be cooked from frozen pretty easy just for those nights I forgot to pull food.

Lis

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #63 on: April 20, 2017, 10:35:26 AM »
Ugh I'm with you on not wanting to keep frozen premade food in the freezer (like the Costco pizza). Trader Joe's frozen foods kill me... I usually pick up a few when I shop there (not my regular place, too far away) for those "emergency" days, when stuff happens or I'm just too tired to cook, but when I do that, my willpower plummets, and instead of cooking whatever I had planned, I go home and eat frozen tacos - not because I was too tired to cook, but because I really wanted those damn frozen tacos.

For those lazy, "I just don't wanna cook days," my InstantPot saves the day. I keep frozen chicken breasts, cutlets or something in the freezer, and I'll just throw those in the IP with some spices, sauce or whatever's on hand. I also make homemade pizza burritos - I always have wraps, I always have cheese, I always have tomato sauce, and I almost always have pepperoni. Throw everyone on my cast iron and I get a pizza in a few minutes. I usually just roll it up for ease of eating - again, this is my lazy food :)

I also try to keep a high protein diet, so I always have canned tuna in the kitchen. Mix that up with dill relish, or greek yogurt and spices, and I'm happy. Amazon has a great subscribe and save on an 8 pack for ~$5.

Silkspin

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #64 on: April 20, 2017, 07:08:29 PM »


Any particular reason you do not have a microwave?  I do find they make the batch cooking thing a lot easier.


I wasn't crazy about how my food cooked mostly unevenly, and I found myself zapping the same cup of coffee when I was at home with my baby daughter, several times a day, I'd start running after a toddler and it would get cold, and I felt it became frankencoffee! So when we moved, we got rid of it, and really haven't missed it. We have a toaster oven and a small kitchen. I have a microwave at work and have the same love/hate relationship!

Silkspin

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #65 on: April 20, 2017, 07:25:51 PM »
Also, forgot the most basic thing, but something that definitely helps. Have a written-down meal plan and (here's the important part) look at it every day. Of course, lots of people may not be as forgetful as I am but this is key. I haven't actually done a meal plan or much cooking over the last month or two, because I've had a very busy period following hard on the heels of a five-week cold (excuses, excuses). Anyway, I was craving salad and bought some the other day. Even washed it as soon as I got home so that all I'd have to do yesterday was put it on a plate, add some dressing and anything else I'd decided on, and I'd be good to go. But, didn't have it written down, had an extremely hectic day, got home almost two hours later than planned and just completely forgot that I had this lovely salad waiting. Didn't even really want Chinese. I'm looking forward to my salad this evening, though. :)

Yes, I do meal plan. But as Zikoris said up in the thread, when your internal 2 year old is talking, the meal plan looks less and less appealing lol!

We do all right usually, but I'd like to be better at not getting derailed. Someone else mentioned how a spouse or partner can help the sabotage - and hubby never declines a pizza! I have to teach him to not let into my whims!!!

HipGnosis

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #66 on: April 28, 2017, 09:36:20 PM »
This won't appeal to everyone, but I thought I'd share what I heard on talk radio.
One of the things (some) 'brand name' grocery stores are doing is 'take out' food.
It's a cross between a hot deli counter and a take out / order-in restaurant.
The person on the radio said it's better and cheaper than drive-thru fast food.
Nice to have options.

scissorbill

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #67 on: April 29, 2017, 08:36:27 AM »
Our go to 'life happens' meals are:

scrambled eggs and toast
frozen chicken nuggets
grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

GreenSheep

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #68 on: April 30, 2017, 06:14:00 PM »
It seems like a change in mindset would help a lot, in addition to all of the excellent advice given here. I grew up in the country, where no one delivered anywhere near our house, and there were no restaurants nearby. So it just never occurred to me that one would consider eating out or ordering in on a weeknight. My awesome mom always cooked. I remember going out to eat with some friends on a Tuesday night in college, and it felt so weird and foreign to me. So... throwing away the menus, "forgetting" who delivers, etc. and taking on the mindset that it's simply not an option might help.

I love to cook, too, and I do a lot of cooking in advance and freezing, but yes... sometimes cereal, apples with nut butter, or something similar is perfectly okay to eat for dinner. There's no law that says it has to be fancy or contain certain components. :-) I think the thing that's more important than the specific food is the fact that your family is eating together. That's another thing my family always did, and I didn't realize until college that not every family is that way.

Much Fishing to Do

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #69 on: April 30, 2017, 07:04:03 PM »
1) Crockpot
2) Freeze stuff that thaws well in microwave
3) Freeze crockpotted stuff that thaws well in microwave.

For me, the key is truly to not make every meal some hour or more long preparation task.  There are 3 meals a day, that would be ridiculous.  If you make a HUGE pot of delicious chili, freeze lots of containers the size of your families' meal portion, then you just took care of of many meals at once.  That's the miracle of the microwave, not making hot pockets but instantly retrieving homemade meals from long ago....

MsPeacock

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #70 on: April 30, 2017, 08:51:00 PM »
1. Pressure cooker instead of crockpot, because it makes the same stuff but I don't have to remember to start it in the morning.

2. "Fancy " ramen -ramen plus fried eggs, American cheese, bag salad or spinach, frozen meatballs, Teri Yaki sauce, Sirracha, etc.

3. Canned lentil soup, plus cheddar cheese melted in, rice if you have some already cooked, tortilla chips, chopped onion and or jalapeņo on top. Tortilla soup yumminess in 5 minutes.

4. Egg, canned re fried beans, cheese breakfast burrito 🌯

2-3 take under 10 minutes to make and largely involve shelf stable or pantry standard items.

I have a lot of Under 30 minute meals using the budget bytes website.

sisto

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #71 on: May 01, 2017, 12:59:32 PM »
Definitely some good suggestions and I'll pile on the batch cooking as a great option. I often buy whole chickens, Tri-tip, and pork in the big packages at Costco. I then will cook them on my smoker and I'll pull say one tri-tip extra rare to leave room for heating it back up without making it dry. Also smoking keeps things juicy even when fully cooked. I do 2 whole chickens at a time and pull off all the meat and package it up by weight with enough to make certain meals later. Then I put the carcass in the IP to make bone broth. I freeze that in 1 cup, 2 cup, 4 cup and sometimes I do an 8 cup one to use later for soup and other recipes needing broth. If I have leftover veggie scraps I've saved off those go in too. Basically you have some pre-made meats that you can grab and heat up and usually throw some sort of vegetable with it. I also make big batches of chili and freeze off portions of that. I've used the pork to make pulled pork, bbq pork, or carnitas. I freeze off portions for use later. I usually try to keep some frozen mahi filets from Costco on hand too, so in a pinch I can go to the store and get tortillas and coleslaw mix and do fish tacos very quickly. I also like to have a Costco pizza on the ready for when that weekend project goes over on my time budget and I need something easy. Another thing I like is some pre-made Indian food that Costco carries, it's fairly healthy and still better than going out to eat as far a budget goes. Another thing I like to do is always keep a jar of marinara or spaghetti sauce around and some pasta. It's really easy to boil pasta and heat some sauce to throw with it in a pinch. Hopefully you find some things that work well for you.

MVal

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #72 on: June 08, 2017, 08:14:37 AM »
Kimchi fried rice, man. I just discovered it.

I also just got a cheap rice cooker and this was my first experiment. So, you make a few cups of rice in the cooker which will last you several meals. Buy the big container of kimchi at Costco or whatever Asian grocery you can find. You chop up a cup of kimchi, sautee/stirfry in a skillet for a bit with a little oil, add your rice and then add some extra pepper sauce/paste, sesame oil and green onion. Bam, done. Totally delicious. And you can make a huge batch and just eat it all week, too.

10dollarsatatime

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #73 on: June 08, 2017, 09:15:29 AM »
I try to batch cook at least my proteins every week, and then I cook extras on top of that and freeze them.  For instance, I'll roast a couple of pork sirloins, slice them, and freeze what I know I won't be able to finish in the week.  That way, on a week I was too lazy busy to cook, all I have to do is pull a couple of slices out of the freezer and throw them on a plate with a microwave baked sweet potato and a pile of frozen veggies.

I also can proteins.  Currently working on 24 half pints of chicken breast.  It's really easy to just drain and dump on a salad.  The pork can be shredded and fried in some oil and spices for a quick cheater carnitas.  Or I can cover either of them with BBQ sauce and eat over some quick cooking grains.  I also can soups for the winter.  I don't even have to get out a bowl at that point.  Pop off the lid, microwave, and eat!

llorona

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #74 on: June 08, 2017, 01:15:41 PM »
Ugh. We have the same problem too. Wednesday, when mid-week doldrums set in, seem to be the hardest day to avoid ordering takeout.

Here are some of our quick emergency meals:
1. Quesadillas (slap tortillas and cheese together in a pan; when done, cover with chopped tomatoes and avocado)
2. BLTs
3. Tuna salad over Romaine lettuce

aceyou

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #75 on: June 08, 2017, 01:35:40 PM »
I watched a film on intermittent fasting.  It was fascinating.  I keep several bags of nuts around..one in the car, one at work, a few at home.  I also keep a bag of raman noodle packets at work.  If I make myself too busy to make a meal, then I tell myself that the problem is not a lack of time, it's me needing to plan my life better.  When too busy, I

- fast for a meal (the human body can go weeks, and for most of history skipping meals was normal)
- eat nuts or raman

Regarding my kids, I just make them a simple meal...pancakes, nuts, fruit, veggies, granola bars, cereal, eggs, a smoothie, etc.  Little kids like snaking over meals anyway. 

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Your best solutions against ordering in
« Reply #76 on: June 08, 2017, 03:35:47 PM »
I'm a massive fan of the slowcooker. I make huge lots of staples, like bolognese or chili con carne, and portion them into the freezer. At the moment I have 10 or more portions of each of these made from scratch: chili, bolognese, beef stew, chicken noodle soup, split pea soup, as well as frozen cooked brown rice and mashed veges. When I get home and can't be bothered cooking, which is nearly every night (let's be honest!), I can just grab whatever I feel like and add some fresh veges. I often make 100 or so asian dumplings as well and freeze them. No need to takeout, because it's there and instant already. The slowcooker is really low work, as well, not a lot of difference preparing one meal as 15. Dumplings, not so much but it's an evening in front of the telly folding them, for weeks of pay off.

The other trick is to have something edible in the car or in your bag, so when you're driving home you're not tempted to stop! I like macadamias. They're sufficiently indulgent to feel naughty, but not going to prevent me eating a decent meal.