Tuesday, September 28, 2010
If your life and your budget have come to the place where frugality must take priority over convenience, then the quickest way to stretch your dollars is to cut out the take out. Fast food is not only expensive as it inevitably adds up, but also adds inches to your physique faster than healthy, home-cooked meals. And if you’re thinking about a family of four dining at a restaurant, the bill goes even higher, with gratuity added. Consider a few alternatives to make opting for quality time at home in your own kitchen a pleasant and thrifty way to go!
1. Avoid coffee bars.
Hitting up your favorite Starbuck’s can quickly become a daily habit. That delicious cup of java in on the way to work can also extend to a three o’clock pick-me-up, sliding into overspending plus calories. Check out the great coffee makers on the market today, from the single cup espresso machine to the old-fashioned percolator. Add your flavor shot if you must, but set it up to give you that steaming mug of satisfaction before you leave the house. You’ll make your wallet and your waistline happy.
2. Make Your Own Pizza.
You get home from work and are met at the door by a hungry family that wants food and wants it now, so you reach for the phone and order a pizza, loaded to the max. Pizza is the take-out of choice for the average American family, and usually the one dinner that no one will argue with. But for pennies on the dollar, making your own pizza can be scrumptious and fun. Easy recipes are available on the internet, while chilled pizza dough plus ingredients can be found at your local market. Make it a Sunday afternoon culinary adventure and invite the kids to help. Freeze two or three for the coming week. They’ll come in handy sooner or later.
3. Brown Bag It.
When you take that extra five minutes to pack your own lunch, you save money and help your health too. Throw together a sandwich with whole-grain bread, your choice of fillings, some tasty mixed greens, and a little spicy mustard, with a side of fresh fruit instead of a dessert. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can acquire this habit, and pleased at the effect it has on your budget. Last night’s leftovers can be even better the second time around if your workplace offers a microwave.
4. Bake Some Bread.
The smell of fresh bread wafting through the house can be intoxicating. Online sites make discovering a variety of recipes easy, and a bread machine makes the process even more convenient. Making several loaves at a time isn’t much harder than one, and they can easily be popped into the freezer to give you one per week. You may find it to be as relaxing and therapeutic as it is appetizing.
5. Free Food Samples.
A quick online search for food samples brings a variety of websites that offer name brand products at no cost, and often with no survey necessary. From breakfast cereals to taco sauces to exquisitely creamy chocolate, the sky’s the limit. Give your financial resources a break by availing yourself of the many offers out there. These companies want your business and they are happy to tempt you into becoming a regular customer by letting you try.
Kyle Simpson writes for Financialized, an investing and finance blog that offers an unbiased perspective on personal finance topics.