Shocked by how much money you or your family spend eating out? Save money with these easy cheap dinner ideas.
Are you afraid to look at your credit card bill for fear of realizing just exactly how much you spend on food per month?
Do you have any idea what percentage of your monthly bills is from food? Especially from eating out?
Perhaps it’s better if you live in ignorant bliss and don’t do the math.
However, if you are interested in knowing how much you spend per month dining out, here are some statistics….
How Much Does The Average Family Spend on Food?
A handful of years ago, the official figure from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S.B.L.S.), revealed that the average food cost for a U.S. household was $6,600. And the average cost of food per month for a family is about $550. [SOURCE]
How does that figure sound to you?
Does it sound low? Do you spend $12-$15 for lunch everyday during the workweek? And then go out to dinner with the family a few times a week spending at least $50 each time?
If so, your annual eating out cost is more like $10,800.
Yikes! That’s about half a semester of college at a local college.
If you want to start saving money, below, you’ll find some easy cheap dinner ideas….
But take comfort in the fact that the average American household is spending less on food these days. According to the same U.S.B.L.S. report, these days, the typical American household spends only about 10 percent of its total budget on food. In comparison to 100 years ago, that’s a 30 percent reduction.
If your family is bringing back the early 1900s back and spending 40 percent or more of total budget on food, you definitely need to learn how to make cheap dinners.
But the average family in 1900 wasn’t eating out an average of 4.2 times per week like modern families do. And turn-of-the-20th-century families weren’t spending an average of over $230 a month on meals outside the home. [SOURCE]
Easy cheap dinner ideas
Even if you are so tired and busy that all you want to do when you get home is plop on the couch and binge-watch your show, it’s so simple to make the following meal….
Buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket on your way home. All but the most expensive markets sell a whole chicken for under $10. You can also buy a bag of spinach to make a salad.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. At home, you probably have some sunflower seeds, nuts of some kind and other fixins for a salad. If not, buy some. They’ll last a long time.
It takes 10 minutes tops to make a rotisserie chicken salad for you and the family.
You may even have leftovers for a couple days. Do this a couple times and you have the whole workweek covered.
If you have a propane grill at home, fire it up often to make these easy cheap dinner ideas quickly. Buy some organic veggies from your local store or farmer’s market.
Grilled veggies such as zucchini and asparagus are often are more palatable for young kids. Take one day a week to grill a bunch of veggies.
If you eat meat or fish, do the same. You can kill two birds (pardon the pun) with one stone by grilling the veggies on one side and the wild salmon or meat on the other side.
You’ll have lots of veggies and protein to last several days. Per meal, the cost will be tiny in comparison to eating out.
And if you’re not a low carb dieter, you can also take once per week to cook healthy grains in bulk. Quinoa and wild rice will make for a well-rounded meal with the veggies and fish/meat.
Meal Prep A Must
If you want to lower your monthly food bill, smart meal prep is a must. This article focuses on preparing meals if you want to lose weight.
However, if weight loss isn’t a concern and you just want to learn how to slash your food bill, the article has several applicable takeaways.
For example, start using a Crock Pot. And keep sliced low carb vegetables like celery and cucumbers on hand in the refrigerator for healthy snacking.
Perhaps the easiest way to slash your food bill is by not eating as much. The suggestion here is not starving yourself. But rather, trying intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting will make you leaner. And, it will save you money.
When you only eat during an eight-hour window, which is a popular method of intermittent fasting, you tend to only eat a couple meals a day.
It’s true that it’s possible to spend lots of money eating out even if you’re practicing intermittent fasting every day.
However, after you have fasted for 16 hours, your belly shrinks. Therefore, even if you do eat out, you’re not going to want to eat as much.
Intermittent fasting is one of the best easy cheap dinner ideas because even if you do eat out and have a relatively expensive meal, you’ll likely take leftovers home with you. That $15 Thai food meal is more like $7.50 because you’re paying for two meals.
Cheap dinner ideas for 4
If you have a family of four or more, the above tips for easy cheap dinner ideas especially apply to you. Cook in bulk.
Do it even if you are a very busy person. Cooking in bulk is easy. Even if you are lazy when it comes to cooking. Or both lazy and busy.
Preparing meals in advance is the way to go if you want to save money on your food bill. And have more money, for, say, a family vacation. (And while on vacation, you won’t have to feel guilty about spending money eating out.)
And the aforementioned rotisserie chicken salad is the simplest meal to make for a family of four. Plus it’s a very healthy and nutritious dinner.
In winter, chop up lots of veggies and throw them in a slow cooker. You can also add a protein such as grass-fed beef stew meat or organic chicken thighs.
Add some bouillon stock cubes to make the soup savory. Set the slow cooker to high for 6-8 hours. It’s safe to leave it on even if nobody’s home.
Doing this a couple times a week will provide enough food for the family.
You can give everyone a chunk of healthy bread to fill up their bellies. Most farmers markets sell bread that’s much better for you than commercial varieties. For example, small-batch sourdough bread contains probiotics. And there are also loaves that contain flax seeds, walnuts and other nutrient-dense ingredients.
Tips for easy cheap dinner ideas
There’s no other way around it…. If you want to save money on your food bill and make healthy meals for your family, you can’t eat out as much.
But if you’re someone who doesn’t have the time or motivation to cook, meal prep and cooking easy meals in bulk is a must. Easy low carb recipes that take little prep time are what we favor these days.
Become best friends with your slow cooker. Also use your propane grill more often. Keep it simple and stick to grilled veggies and lean protein. Use a rice cooker to make lots of wild rice or other low-glycemic healthy grains.
With enough practice, following these tips won’t feel like a chore. You may even end up enjoying the process.
And you’ll really enjoy receiving less costly credit card statements.
Got any easy cheap dinner ideas of your own? Leave a comment.