8 ways to eat out for less

Chipotle is my weakness and I love everything about it..except that it would cost my family around $750 a month if we ate it for dinner every night. πŸ€‘

So we try to limit it to be a once a month treat, and try to find ways to make it even more affordable than it already is. Today, we got 6 servings of food for $16.72!! I also got enough napkins for both of our car glove boxes for the next few months..lol.

But while I was ordering today, I thought about some different ways that you can save money while eating out, no matter what you’re craving.

1. Don’t eat out at all..and if you’re like me and know that not eating out at all is a recipe for disaster, then limit it to once or twice a month and budget for it. (if I don’t eat out at all, then I will fall HARD off the wagon and go on a wildly expensive and unhealthy eating out binge)

2. Eat before hand. Yes you read that right..grab a snack first so you aren’t ordering more than you need or super sizing because you’re starving. Or if you’re eating out for dinner, make sure you had a good lunch that day.

3. Does everyone really need a meal or at minimum..their OWN meal? Likely not, so do like we do and make quesadillas at home for the kids and let them eat a little guacamole and chips as a side or you can share an order of food also.

4. Much like the previous tip, the portion sizes are ridiculous these days and WAY more than one person needs in one sitting. I ask for extra rice because it’s free, and I can make 3 meals out of one bowl.

5. Find some add ins or sides from home. We usually do chips from home and add some carrots and grapes for sides. Or if you’re ordering a pizza, skip the breadsticks and make a salad at home with it instead.

6. Look for promotions! Chipotle was doing BOGO for wearing a youth soccer jersey this weekend, so I dressed my soccer star in his and got a free bowl for it. I know Chick-Fil-A does similar dress like a cow promotions. This makes it fun also, because you can dress ridiculous and get some crazy second looks from people.

7. Join the rewards program. Don’t get me wrong..don’t use the rewards program as an excuse to eat out all the time, but if you can earn a free entree down the road for when you do plan to order, then take full advantage of that. If you’re like me and get excited and forget, Chipotle has a way to upload receipts afterwards. (as long as you do it within 30 days of ordering)

8. Do carry out. If you dine in, you are more likely to get pressured into adding on drinks, appetizers, and desserts that you don’t need. Also, you will need to add a minimum of a 20% tip, and tipping is also something you have to do for delivery. So avoid it and go grab your food and take it to the park or take it home to eat. Save the fancy sit down meals for extra special occasions, like an anniversary or birthday.

Those are some of my secrets to saving money while still getting your favorite fast food fix. What are some ways you save when eating out?!

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Final Food Prep Post

Last one guys..I swear. I didn’t want to overwhelm you with a bazillion in one long post, so this will be my third and final on my food prep containers.

The kids tested these warming bad boys out and said their macaroni stayed warm for the four hours until lunch..once again Karen..move along if you don’t like what we’re eating over here. They even have an adorable built in spoon that we will enjoy exactly one more time before it gets lost. 😜

Link:

https://amzn.to/2zGCccZ

And my fave is this little personal salad buffet. I mean..you can put ALL THE TOPPINGS..and the DRESSING even. Refer back to my previous post about how all the food shouldn’t be touching until I’m ready for it to touch. It’s also a step further than my weird quirks, since it helps stuff stay fresh. I asked my husband for his review..a man of many words said “I liked it”. And there you have it folks. The best review he’s ever given. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ₯—

Link:

https://amzn.to/2zxitw8

Last but not least..the full lineup that is setting me up for years to come, including my reusable snack bags and salad dressing/dip containers-with links below. Let me know if you have any personal favorites for meal prep!!

Reusable snack bags: (not my exact ones because they no longer sell, but similar)

https://amzn.to/2UhmvlR

Salad dressing cups:

https://amzn.to/2Uh0pQA

Where’s me lucky charms πŸ€

Another of my go to food prep containers and I have a few more to bring your way in the next few weeks. This is another amazingly easy container for making breakfast for breakfast or breakfast for lunch. I know I know..cereal has sugar..and also I don’t care. Look Karen..If you don’t like what we’re eating over here, then don’t sit by us at the lunch table. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

I’m not telling anyone to eat cereal every day for a meal..so lighten up a little and think of it as a treat once in a while. This container would also be great for oatmeal/granola or yogurt/berries, or rice/beans, or soup/crackers..the possibilities are endless honestly. It even has built in ice pack and is microwave safe. Basically great for anything you want to be separated at one point in time, but then mixed together at a later time to form a delicious meal. πŸ₯£

If you want to be like me and not be like Karen..then follow the link below..and go get you some cereal and milk in bulk at Costco. πŸ˜‰

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07T25LR79/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=543704-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B07T25LR79&linkId=97a9d31835223782fb495a5185b20dda

The Best Meal Prep Items

With back to school upon us, along with another year of back to work (after a weekend off..lol), I thought I would share some of the containers that I absolutely love!! If you are trying to stop eating out as much, whether it’s to save money, eat healthier, to simplify your life, or whatever your reason, the right containers can set you up for success! It took me under thirty minutes to prep lunches for myself and my five and ten year old for the upcoming week. With the amount of time it takes to run out and grab lunch, along with the cost, I expect to save over $2,600 dollars for me, $1,000 for kids and 7,000 hours of my time. (15 mins each way to grab a $10 lunch x 5 days a week and kids school lunch at $2.50 a lunch x two kids)

The first and absolute favorite is what I refer to as the “food tackle bait” containers. These bad boys are perfect for bento box snacky type lunches, since they have containers perfect for people like me who get weirded out by their food touching. πŸ˜‚. Also for non-food touching weirdos..it’s still nice to keep things separated and fresh so you can prep in advance. You see modeled here in the back containers with hummus/crackers, guacamole/chips and strawberries, carrots and almonds. Perfectly balanced. πŸ‘ŒπŸΌ The front container is another awesome one for those of you who like sandwiches of any variety. πŸ₯ͺ Seen modeled below in the front with an English muffin, peanut butter, celery, apple slices, and pretzel twists, all of which I’m fully prepared to dip in peanut butter. πŸ˜‹

You guys..I’ve tried a LOT of meal prep containers, and these are hands down the best bang for your buck.  My old ones were cheaper, but they also were cheaper quality and cracked and broke in under two years.  These are heavy duty and also have more space for food.  I’m so excited and I don’t get excited over much, so if you are just as excited and ready to set yourself up for meal prep success, links below to each item.  Follow me for more upcoming posts on ways to simplify your life and save money and your health in the process!

Let me know what you think of these containers and what you plan to do with all that saved time and money!!

Food tackle box container:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FMQL1TN/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=543704-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B07FMQL1TN&linkId=431257d1f1e0c1fc4eeda7c3198f420e

Sandwich container:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RP46XC3/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=543704-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B07RP46XC3&linkId=d3bb07523bc590f78723b8554b82f17b

My biggest Food Prep Secret

I am imagining all of my readers frantically clicking the full blog post in hopes of getting access to my deepest darkest most complex food prepping tips. You are about to get this very detailed document that tells you step by step what ingredients you need and these fancy but easy recipes to use said ingredients.

I hate to disappoint, but please note my blog is titled “my semi basic life” and my tag line is in regards to my imperfect journey. That being said, I do still think what I’m about to tell you is going to change your life, or at least change how you think about food prep and meals.

It’s one basic word..and you are probably familiar with it..SNACKS. I literally make it rain with snacks at my house and at work. I keep both a dry snacks bowl and a “snack drawer” in my home and work fridge. I keep a list of healthyish snacks I like and try to rotate here and there. Sometimes I surprise my coworkers with a fruit smiley face on my desk.

I try and make sure on Monday that I bring enough snacks to get me through the week (along with lunches). A glimpse into a typical day of snack life includes usually a protein, a fruit, a veggie, and sometimes a crunchy afternoon “I’m still hungry don’t want to take it out on my family and can’t make it until dinner snack”.

If I don’t have snacks, I am 10x more likely to eat out for lunch or overeat, or potentially snap at my coworker Rodney for absolutely no reason. (Made up stat, but you get what I’m saying) So my snack game is strong and it makes life easier for us all. It’s also better for us to eat every few hours instead of 3 ginormous meals.

Also, stop getting so tied up in “meal prepping” and focus more on “snacks prepping”. Pro tip: Snacks can double as meals when combined in many random combinations. Pro Pro tip: Snacks often pair nicely with wine. Pro Pro Pro tip: The kids can help at pretty much any age with snack prepping.

Snacks got your back, and have saved my a$$ several times when everyone had somewhere to be and I didn’t want to end up in a drive thru window. One of my kids favorite dinners is literally random snacks thrown into an ice cube tray. Seriously..nobody cares about meals, or at least my kids don’t. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

So go get you some snacks..put them everywhere. Your home, car, work, purse (but don’t forget about purse snacks and end up with crumbled cereal bars, or a smashed kiwi or moldy string cheese like I’ve done). Build your own snack city that you are the president of the snack pack. Pack yo snacks.

Food Prep for the lazy

I wake up bright and early on Saturday, put on an apron and a smile on my face and get to cooking (just kidding..I don’t really cook unless my husband leaves me to keep myself and the children alive due to work or football, and even then the extent is scrambled eggs and toast). I also loathe people that enjoy spending their whole Saturday cooking 30 freezer crock pot meals (happy for you with your food prep game being that strong, but that is definitely NOT my idea of fun or easy).

I will be honest..wintertime is the lamest season ever, and I’m too tired and unmotivated to food prep. But apparently our bodies still require food. So..I continue to do it. I also do it for the sake of my moneys, and I guess our health is also up there as a major reason why I food prep.

I usually try to avoid prepackaged and processed items because of health and motha earth, but sometimes I just have to do what gets us by. It’s busy for us right now, with both of us working and both kids in activities that consume all of our waking hours. This will NOT work for us if there’s too much involved, and we will end up in line at Chipotle ready to shove our faces with 1,000 calorie bowls of goodness that cost us $9 a pop.

So stay with me from the beginning. I have been prepping for years now and just know now how much we go through, what makes my children literally throw up at the dinner table (RIP crab cakes), and what is going to die a slow, moldy death before even being consumed. I’ve also gotten pretty quick with weekend prepping now and usually even get a little help from the family. I do have to plan for meat eaters, a pescatarian and a vegetarian, which can get complicated at times, but we always figure it out.

As you may already know, I get my groceries online and spend about 30 minutes per week writing my list, filling in the dinner calendar, and sitting on the couch ordering. HyVee is great about saving all of my past purchases so I can quickly shop my frequent items. I spend $100ish dollars a week for my family of four, and have groceries delivered every Friday. I also spend roughly $40-$60 a month at Costco for our eggs, milk, almonds, etc. So a total of around $450 a month, and on good months, we will eat out maybe once and get ice cream another time, so that’s around $50ish additional. Remember my post about budgeting, where we used to spend around $400 a month just on eating out? We’ve come a LONG way from those days.

Here’s a glimpse into what we will be eating this week (this doesn’t include the dinner stuff). There will be more on the topic, but just wanted to share how much total I spend a month and a few of my winter busy prep ingredients. This may be a good way to ease yourself into food prep if you’ve been wanting to try it but not sure where to start. A lot of these items are just grab and go. I try not to waste my time with food that doesn’t have a lot to offer in the nutrition department, because these items usually don’t even fill you up, and have a higher price tag (I will ALWAYS love you Doritos and Oreos and such, we just can’t be together any longer).

Have you been keeping track of your receipts and how much you’re spending and on what? Curious how much others spend and any tips you have to share? I think the biggest tip I can give to get started..is literally that…JUST GET STARTED. Grab a paper and pen and come up with one meal a day, or one day a week or whatever you want, and come up with your plan. Don’t over complicate things by planning elaborate meals with a bazillion minutes needed to prep a ton of ingredients.

A sample day for me looks like this:

7 a.m. vegan protein shake mixed with almond milk

9 a.m. banana or apple

11 a.m. string cheese

1 p.m. cup of brown rice, 1/2 a smoked salmon packet and 1/2 a steamers bag of broccoli (I don’t even really like broccoli, but I eat it anyway πŸ₯¦)

3 p.m. quinoa crackers

6 p.m. tilapia, couscous and Caesar salad

8 p.m. wine or ice cream..or both

Your scale, overall health, and your wallet will thank you for getting started I promise!

(see below a sample super fancy grocery list and even fancier menu of dinners for the month)

Grocery Getter

As I’m sitting here in my living room prepping for my afternoon nap (some outgrow nap time, but I’m not one of them), I’m contemplating the gazillion inches of snow outside and wondering what the aisles of the grocery store are looking like right about now. πŸ€”

Since everyone suddenly realizes they need bread, eggs, and milk because the roads are snow covered for a day, I’m imagining empty shelves and I’m sure there were some super fun lines leading up to this snow storm. I won’t know because I won’t go..to the grocery store that is. Not because I’m some sort of grocery store snob or some homesteader who’s growing all my own food (I wish I was, but nothing living has survived my care longer than 3 days..besides the kids and dogs..and that’s touch and go at times).

You won’t catch me at the store because I found a different way. It has literally changed my life in so many ways. Apparently there’s people out there who LIKE to shop for groceries and will do it for you. After they navigate the aisles and aisles of peanut butter and produce, they even LIKE to bring it to you. And they like to do it may be a strong word, but they’re doing it, and best part..it’s FREE. What?! Sign me up for that s&@!!

I use HyVee aisles online and as long as I spend $100, you heard me right..it’s free for someone else to get my groceries and deliver them right into my kitchen. This saves me about 2 hours per week that I can spend with my family that I didn’t have before. This saves me money because I don’t get the opportunity for my YOLO attitude to pop in and convince me I NEED Doritos. This improves my health because see above about Doritos not being put in the cart, not stressed about getting groceries, allows time for me to exercise, increases my mood, etc. This saves my sanity so you don’t see me and/or my kids crying in the cereal aisle because grocery shopping is “so much fun”.

If you don’t have HyVee around you, check out your other options. I have some friends using Aldi for delivery and I know several others will shop/deliver, or at least shop and let you pick up. Obviously I will have lots more to say on finances and food, but as I’m enjoying my lazy Saturday after food prepping this morning, I thought I would share this quick and easy tip. 😎