Tonight was like most weeknights at our house – busy! Getting kids home from school just in time to get them back out the door; one to volleyball practice and one to jiu jitsu open mat. With both kids playing different sports, they need to be in different places at the same time. It’s a busy life we lead, but this is the phase of life we are in with our kids right now, and we are doing our best to embrace it.
Let’s be clear though. Being a busy momma doesn’t keep me from being a frugal momma. If I let “busy” win, we’d be hitting the drive-through every other night. No need for that! I’ve figured out with a little thinking and planning ahead, we can have a home- cooked meal most nights and I can save that money (and even a few calories while I’m at it).
Here are my tips for eating at home, despite our busy schedule:
1. Plan ahead!
Each weekend, I sit down and map out what each weeknight will look like. Where do I need to be and what time will we be home? Given that, I can plan my menu for the week. I can choose the meal depending on if I will have time to prepare dinner or whether it needs to be a crockpot night.
Do your grocery shopping and meal prepping on the weekends, so you are ready to face the week.
2. Make extra (or double)!
I always make more than I need for one meal. If I’m taking the time to make one meal – it doesn’t take all that much extra time to make twice as much. Put some in the freezer or just save some in the refrigerator for another night. The freezer is a frugal momma’s best friend!
3. Collect recipes that are quick and easy!
There are SO MANY websites out there with quick easy recipes or recipes you can cook in your crockpot or instant pot. Here are a few of my favorites:
- 30-Minute Meal Recipes (allrecipes.com)
- 50 Easy Instant Pot Recipes (Beginner Friendly) | Tested by Amy + Jacky (pressurecookrecipes.com)
- Recipes – 365 Days of Slow Cooking and Pressure Cooking (365daysofcrockpot.com)
4. Make dinner part of your morning!
I almost always have dinner rolling before I leave for work. It may mean taking something out of the freezer, putting something in the crockpot, or just knowing the plan for later that night. Don’t leave the house without a dinner plan in action.
5. Eat those leftovers!
I’ve met so many people who don’t plan for leftovers or don’t eat leftovers for some reason. Leftovers are actually on the menu nearly every Thursday night at my house. By that point in the week, I have several meals with little bits leftover. Call it smorgasbord, leftovers, hodge podge, but whatever you call it, make it part of the meal plans for the week.
6. Multi-task – don’t just watch dinner cook!
I usually get home from whatever practice we were at that night and immediately start dinner. While dinner cooks, we do homework, showers, prep for the next day, chores, and general pickup. We may have to wait 20 minutes for dinner, but we make sure that time isn’t wasted watching dinner cook. This usually means we aren’t rushing around after dinner to get everything done before bed.
I get it! Some nights mean you hit the drive-thru and call it a day. It happens at my house, too. But, since I’ve started doing these few things, I’ve found that my drive-thru nights are few and far between. By eating at home, I’m saving a little money and helping my family build a few healthy habits along the way. I’m finding “busy” doesn’t have to win and we can eat at home most nights, even when life is crazy!