DIY Convenience Foods - Save $$$ (and time, too!)

It’s no surprise that food prepared at home from scratch is significantly cheaper (and usually healthier) than prepackaged convenience foods or last minute take-out meals.

What may surprise some people, however, is that preparing food at home can often save time.

It’s true.

Think about the times you’ve rushed to the grocery store after work for a last minute meal, only to find that dozens of other people are doing exactly the same thing. The parking lot is crowded, the lines up are long… What was supposed to be a five-minute stop turns into a 25-minute wait. With a little preplanning, you could have had a meal on the table in 20.

That 30 minute wait for the pizza delivery driver could have been spent at the table (or on the couch if that’s your style) enjoying a simple, healthy meal.

So what is holding you back?

So many of us feel overwhelmed by the increasingly stressful demands of our daily lives. The very thought of trying to plan ahead seems like just another item to add to the list and sets the adrenalin rising.

And in a culture obsessed with food shows and celebrity chefs, many people feel that their cooking skills are inadequate. Rather than encouraging an adventurous approach to cooking, these shows often raise the bar so high that people feel cooking is a competitive sport they haven’t trained for.

Then where to start?

First of all, set reasonable goals. If you’ve been eating all your meals out of boxes or from restaurants, don’t pressure yourself to all of a sudden prepare every meal at home. Start more slowly- perhaps set a goal of 2 or 3 meals a week prepared and eaten at home.  

Here are some links for easy to prepare recipes to get you started:

100 Cheap and Easy Recipes

11 Budget-Friendly Quick Fix Meals

Best Budget Recipes

Use your freezer. When you do cook, prepare extra for the freezer and create your own collection of made-at-home convenience foods.

These sites provide excellent information on freezer cooking, along with great freezable recipes:

Freezer Cooking Will Save You Time Later

50 Easy Freezer Meals

Favorite Freezer Foods

Try slow cooking. A slow cooker (or crockpot) can cook your meal while you are at work so you come home to a house full of appetizing smells, and only a few minutes of preparation needed to have food on the table.

Try these sites for some excellent slow cooker recipes:

Slow Cooker Recipes from Canadian Living

Easy Slow Cooker Recipes and Tips

30 + Simple Slow Cooker Recipes

105 Slow Cooker Favorites from Cooking Light

Make your own mixes. With a batch of mixes ready for muffins and cookies, you can prepare home-baked snacks and treats at a fraction of the cost and in the same amount of time as you do with store-bought mixes.

Here are some links to get you started:

Homemade Baking Mixes

Make Your Own Homemade Mixes

You don’t have to churn your own butter or make your own cheese to reap the cost, health and stress-saving benefits of preparing food at home. You also don’t need to be a culinary wizard. Everyone can cook, and everyone can learn to prepare meals to be proud of.

Develop a repertoire of meals that you are comfortable with and slowly build your collection of go-to recipes. It won’t be long before people are asking you to share them!

Recipes from a Maritime Kitchen

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