As our family has grown over the years, we have been more and more likely to eat at home. For a while when the children were small, it wasn’t a big deal to split our food with them. As each new family member was born, it became a little more expensive each time we would eat out.
We now rarely eat out. Do I like to eat out? Yes, but I have decided it just isn’t worth it….most of the time. My boys are 15, 14, 12, 10, and 7. My daughter is 5. Just to eat out at a fast food restaurant is close to $60. All except the two little ones eat more than my husband and me. They want triple sandwiches, extra fries, shakes, etc. The food is unhealthy, and overpriced.
To counter this desire to eat out, I have a few go-to meals that everyone likes, that are quick, and don’t break the bank like eating out does.
1. Pre-prepared pizzas. Wal-Mart and Aldi have pretty nice sized pizzas. They vary in price from $6-10 and I need 3 pizzas to make a meal, but it is fast and way cheaper than eating out for the 8 of us. I buy a family size salad mix to serve with the pizza. Total Cost: around $22-$34.
2. Spaghetti and meatballs. I buy spaghetti on sale or at Sam’s club. I buy meatballs when they are on sale. I keep pasta sauce in the pantry most of the time. Serve with garlic bread. I buy the whole loaf garlic bread, instead of the pre-sliced kind with 8 pieces. This way I can cut the garlic bread into the size I prefer which serves way more than 8 slices. Total Cost: around $8.
3. Little Caesars Pizza. We have a Little Caesars Pizza about 10 minutes from us. They have $5 pepperoni or cheese pizzas. This is a splurge for us, but the kids love it when we purchase this. We need 4 pizzas. Total Cost: $20.
4. Pita bread pizzas. I go to the bread store about once a month and buy 20 loaves of bread. I also see what they have on their reduced shelf. Often they have pita bread on the 75 cent rack. I buy as many as they have. I use 4 bags per dinner. We use it to make pita bread pizzas. I use spaghetti sauce instead of pizza sauce–it goes farther for the price. We use 1 pita bread per mini pizza. I allow the children to make their own with their choice of toppings, which they love to do. I set out various toppings that I have in the fridge. Usually we have pepperoni, cheese, black olives, banana peppers, green peppers, and anything else I am trying to get rid of. Bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Serve with salad. Total Cost: around $13 depending on what we use.
5. Breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes, sausage or bacon, and toast. Fast, tasty, and economical. Total cost: around $10.
6. Meatball subs. I use frozen meatballs, hot dog buns, spaghetti sauce, and mozzarella cheese, or provolone if I have it on hand. I normally have all ingredients excpept hot dog buns on hand. I stop at the discount grocery and get the buns for 79 cents. I also pick up a bag of chips or pretzels to serve with the meal. I need 2 packs of buns. I use 2 small bags of meatballs. Total cost: around $11.
These go-to meals keep me from resorting to spending a small fortune for a single, unhealthy meal. I try to keep all of these ingredients handy so that I can quickly get a meal on the table that everyone enjoys without breaking the budget!