How you can save $1,200 per year just by thinking ahead and making a 20 minute meal.

Published on February 13, 2014 by Lauren

Yesterday I spent 2 & 1/2 hours grocery shopping.  It was one of those rare weeks where we were really low on food and I needed to work really hard to stay within our budget.  I was successful and actually come in $8.00 under budget!  I was exhausted from shopping at 4 different stores (I normally only go to 1), but since we have a new and leaner budget, I’ve been having to shop at a few different stores.

Around 3 hours later Mark says to me “Lauren, lets just order pizza tonight, we are both still tired from our trip over the weekend and I don’t want to mess the kitchen up.”  I thought about it for a few minutes and agreed on getting pizza.  A few minutes later I went back to him and told him that we couldn’t because it just didn’t make sense.  We talked about how we had both just worked so hard to save money on that grocery shopping trip (he was watching the kids while I was gone); I figured I had saved around $70.00.  Were we willing to then turn around and blow $25.00 of those savings on pizza?  If we got the pizza, I felt like everything we had done was just a waste.  (NOTE: I eat gluten free, so gluten free pizza is not cheap…hence the $25.00 cost)

If we ordered pizza 1 x per week for the entire year at $25.00 per week – we would be spending and extra $1,300 per year! OUCH!

Has this ever happened to you?  You work hard to save so much money, but then in a moment of exhaustion you pick up the phone and order take out.  Or it might happen with different products; maybe you did great meal planning and saved a ton of money at the store, but then you stopped at Target to buy $100 worth of clothes that you don’t need.  Why do we do this?

Stop and start being smart with ALL your money!

Start to think and plan ahead!

Don’t be surprised when you are tired at 5pm and don’t want to make dinner.

Combat this with a simple plan.

That plan is 20 minute dinners.

1.) Plan Ahead.

This is something that has helped us – coming up with 20 minute meals.

Come up with five 20 minute dinner recipes and have those items on hand at all times.  These meals are your take-out busters – the meals that you turn to when you really want to order a pizza but know that you shouldn’t.  You can make these meals in less time than it would take you to go get take out.

2.) Consult with your family.

Your kids may LOVE To take part in this so include everyone. Sit down and figure out which quick meals you love and go with it.  Put the list on the refrigerator that way everyone knows where to go when cooking one of your quick meals.

3.) Communicate the goal.

Communication is key when it comes to planning.  By communicating your goal to skip the pizza and instead using one of your quick meals, your spouse will less likely to swing by and pick up a pizza on the way home from work.

When I was pregnant with my youngest, I just could not cook dinner no matter how hard I tried!  Mark knew that he could come home and we had a few go-to dinners that we could whip up in 10 minutes or less.  We didn’t eat that great during the pregnancy and we did order out quite a few times, but we would have eaten out a LOT more if we hadn’t known what quick meals we had in our freezer or refrigerator already.

4.) Consider freezer cooking.

Freezer cooking is something that I really want to start doing this year.  There are so many great freezer cooking ideas, if you want to get started on this you can find a great freezer cooking sheet over here, or try any of our Meal Plans.

Here are some examples of our 20 minute dinners:

  • Eggs and toast
  • Homemade Waffles (this is what we ate last night instead of pizza)
  • Pita or English Muffin pizzas
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Pasta and Homemade pasta sauce

They are not fun but the kids usually love them!  It felt so good to know that we had just saved $30.00 by saying NO to ourselves and our laziness.

I have started a 20 minute dinner Pinterest board to gather some more ideas for us all – make sure that you follow that board below.

What are some of your favorite go-to dinners that take you 20 minutes or less? Link to them in the comments and I will pin them to my board!

Follow Lauren {I am THAT lady}’s board {20 minutes dinners} on Pinterest.