Are you a little too reliant on the convenient, tasty, money-hemorrhaging phenomenon known as takeout? Addicted, even? Well, you’re not alone. At the end of a long day, there are few greater comforts than knowing the only thing standing between you and a ripper dinner is the line of cars ahead of you at the drive-through. It’s quick, it’s tasty, there are no dishes, and the whole family is guaranteed to love it. But there’s a difference between giving the occasional appreciative nod to fried food, and reserving a regular place for it at your dining room table. If takeout food has crept in and become a somewhat regular guest at dinner time, friend, you just might be caught in the takeout trap.
And hey, full disclosure: I bring you this post not from a place of expertise, but from someone who knows the struggle, baby. Colonel Sanders has Chris and me in his evil clutches, and nine times out of ten, when we shell out for takeout, it’s his pockets we’re lining with our hard earned dollahz. There’s a reason I have a “nug queen” magnet proudly displayed on the fridge.
Escaping the takeout trap is a matter of changing your mindset and building some good, strong habits. It may feel hard at first, but the more you resist it, the easier it will become.
So without further ado, I give you my 4 tips for escaping the takeout trap
The most common reason we catch ourselves dialing Dominos is because we get to the end of the day, feebly check the contents of the fridge, and realise there’s nothing in there resembling ingredients for a meal. Why? Because we didn’t buy enough at the grocery store. Why? Because we didn’t plan our meals for the week.
Half the battle of dinner time is knowing what to cook, so the simple task of meal planning is GOLDEN. Each weekend, plan your dinners for the coming week right before you grocery shop. The efficiency of this is two-fold: not only do you have a solid plan of what to cook each night, you also have a solid plan of what to buy, saving you time and money at the shops. And with all those beautiful ingredients beckoning to you from the fridge, the call of the great golden arches will (hopefully) be silenced.
Personally, I plan 4 dinners each week, as I like to cook big meals and serve left-overs every second night or so – but plan whatever works best for you! Just be strategic – if there are nights when you won’t get home until quite late, keep the plan simple. Most people who get home from work at 6.30 on a Tuesday night aren’t inclined to cook a lasagna from scratch!
Cook food you LOVE
This is sooo important. You can plan all the healthy salads in the world for dinner – but if you don’t particularly dig salads, more often than not you’re going to let those veggies rot and just order a pizza (just like Bailey Suzio shared in her hilarious grocery shopping guest post!) Make sure that the meals you plan excite you, and that you cook with ingredients that you actually enjoy eating. By all means, experiment and branch out by trying new things too. But make sure that everything you cook at least somewhat appeals to you. When you spend all day looking forward to your favourite roast pumpkin soup, takeout is not even going to tempt you! (And if you’re looking for inspiration, we have some pretty awesome dinner recipes to get you started – deliciousness guaranteed!)
Budget it in
Escaping the takeout trap does NOT mean you have to avoid eating takeout ever again! Whether it be last-minute plan changes, irresistable cravings or extreme fall-into-heap-itis, sometimes you just need your Micky D’s. So the smartest thing you can do is accept that it’s going to happen, and make allowances for it. Make a small amount of room in the budget specifically for takeout – and when that money is spent, accept that you won’t be splurging on takeout again until the next cycle in your budget rolls around.
Keep a list of convenient basic meals at hand
When the mood strikes for a whopper and a half-litre of post-mix Coke, you need to have an alternative option available almost instantly, or you’re more than likely going to succumb. I keep a little arsenal of meal ideas for which I hardly need to lift a finger, and they can be prepared so quickly that I barely get a chance to reconsider. Eggs on toast, a quick antipasto platter, chicken nachos, canned tomato soup with toasted cheese sandwiches, and oven bake crumbed fish fillets with steamed vegetables are some great go-to convenience meals. Whatever you choose to keep up your sleeve, be sure to keep those ingredients in stock so they’re truly ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Escaping the takeout trap ain’t easy for some of us, but it sure is necessary. Our health and wallets will be so much better for it!
What tips have YOU got up your sleeve? I would love to know – as I said before, this journey is one that I am currently on – and I could use all the help I can get!
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