When life gets busy, it can become really difficult to make good financial decisions. For the past year or so my wife has been the primary meal maker. Now that she has two jobs and is working a lot more, not only does she have less time to make meals, we have less time to eat together. As a result, we end up eating on our own a lot more, making individual meals as we generally have less time together. While that’s okay for the short term in order to make extra money for both of us, it does seem to end up being that we end up purchasing a few more ready made meals than we would normally.
As our work schedules are so different, we rarely get to eat at the same time. When we do, it can often be rushed in between work shifts, and plans are made at the last minute. I’ve found that as a result it’s a lot easier to spend the money purchasing something small and quick so that we can spend the time just chatting together rather than trying to make something, as we often don’t have that much time off at the same time. As we adjust to this new work schedule, however, we’ve come across a couple of techniques to save money on meal costs while spending time together.
Make Cooking an Activity
If we haven’t seen each other in awhile, we want to spend some quality time together. Instead of making dinner prep into mindless work, we’ve tried making the preparation of the meal the activity itself. We’ll find a recipe that intrigues one of us, and then we’ll spend our time together purchasing the ingredients and crafting the meal. Instead of work it is fun time that we’re spending together making a delicious meal.
If you have more time, or if you want to make it special, consider finding a beer or wine that pairs well and surprising your significant other with it during the meal prep. Find some good music to put on in the background, and suddenly chopping vegetables and frying sausage isn’t work, it’s quality time together.
Bonus: get an awesome apron! Makes cooking way more fun.
Prep Meals in Advance
Just today my wife and I were wondering what we were going to do for breakfast. We were both tired, didn’t want to cook, but were super hungry and knew that we would need something for the day ahead. Instead of taking 30 minutes making a full meal of eggs, toast, etc, we just pulled some pre-made breakfast burritos out of the freezer, microwaved them for a couple of minutes, and then went to town.
Luckily, we already had the foresight to know that we’d have a lazy/rushed morning at some point, and when we had the time we made some pre-made meals and stuck them in the freezer. If you have the freezer space, prepping meals in advance is the best way to combine time and money saving. Even if you can’t devote a ton of time to specifically making meals in advance, then consider simply doubling up the size of the meals that you already are making. Making a sandwich? Make two. It’s faster than making two sandwiches once. Save the second one for later or give it to your SO for their next meal. Making a stir-fry? Make twice as much as you can eat.
Find Cheap Fast Food
While we are still relatively new to the city we moved to, we’re finding better places to go to all the time. We’ve found a really good but inexpensive sushi place, and we found a great pizza by the slice place as well. While it’s not nearly as cheap as if we were making our food ourself, it’s definitely less expensive than some of the options we’ve found. When you need to purchase a meal, try different places or ask around until you find the best place in your area. Try to get something slightly healthier than McDonalds, if you can, and find something that fill you up for as long as possible.
How do you choose between good food and fast food? What compromises do you make? How do you avoid purchasing a lot of food out when life gets busy?