Convenience foods can be a big budget breaker for people in the USA. I was very blessed to be raised by parents that very, very rarely would get convenience foods so thankfully I didn't have a bad habit to break when I left home. However I am still faced with temptations to buy convenience foods and I thought I would share my strategies to combat temptation.
- * PROBLEM: I am very tired and have had a very busy day and I don't feel like making supper. SOLUTION: I freeze meals ahead of time so that on days like that I can used one of those meals instead of having to cook. I also have some very quick and easy meals in my repertoire so if life gets busy I can fall back on one of those.
- PROBLEM: I don't know what to make! At the end of the day this question can be very overwhelming. SOLUTION: Make a menu for the month ( or week) ahead of time. This has helped me tremendously.
- PROBLEM: We are out running errands and we get hungry and thirsty. SOLUTION: We try to always take water bottles along with us to take care of our thirst. And since young children have a tendency to get hungry if we are going to be out long I will crab some cheese, crackers, fruit or some other snack to eat while going around. I also have an emergency snack stored in our van if necessary. Another thing that might help some people with this problem is simply avoiding temptation. If you get gas~ pay at the pump then you don't see the drinks and candy bars.
- PROBLEM: We are traveling and it feels like there is no other option. This is one area where we will sometimes splurge and eat out or buy a snack but there are many times we don't do that while traveling and I know some who never do. SOLUTION: Plan ahead. We again bring water bottles and if we are going to be gone for a while we will freeze some water bottles partially filled with water so that we can have cold water. As you travel along don't be afraid to re-fill your water bottles at rest stops, etc. We will often pack whole meals to eat on the road. It doesn't have to be fancy, sandwiches, popcorn, fruit and cookies work well. For us snacks are a must when traveling so I plan ahead and make sure to make or buy plenty of things that will work. Even when we flew out to Oregon this summer I brought along all of our snacks for the trip (for their and back). My husband likes Mountain Dew when he is driving (and it has to be cold!) so when I remember I bring the cooler and a stock of Mt. Dew with ice. This saves us quite a lot of money. Choose your type of trip carefully. A lot of our trips are either to visit friends or family or going camping. On these types of trips we do very little if any eating out as when camping we cook for ourselves and when visiting we eat where we go (We do try to bring some food along to help out.).
- PROBLEM: It is just me and I hate to cook for only one person. (I remember having this problem in college but I didn't have the money or the time to eat out so I figured out a solution). SOLUTION: Invite over others and cook a large amount and then freeze leftovers in small containers for you to eat later. Find foods that you like that are easy to fix but also healthy. Some of the things that I ate a lot of where: Baked potatoes with various toppings, I would make the baked potato in the microwave and then top it with cheese and salsa and possibly some hamburger that I had browned a lot of at once and then froze it in small containers. I also ate a lot of burritos that I put together from a package of tortillas, re fried beans, cheese and salsa. I ate lots of fresh fruit and bought bags of frozen veggies which you can easily heat up in small portions.
- PROBLEM: My kids ask for things at the store, what can I do? SOLUTION: Don't be afraid to say "No". You know better than they do what they need and you are the parent. Learning now that we don't buy just whatever we want will be great training for them in the future. I regularly take my kids shopping and they rarely ask for things as they know that it is generally useless. Now if when grocery shopping they notice a weird and exotic fruit or something like that they know that quite likely they can ask for that and I will say "Yes" as we like to try new things.
How do you handle the temptations of convenience foods? I would love to hear what you think.