Frugal Friday--Avoiding the Eating Out Trap

2:49 PMHeather

C'mon, moms. You know the drill. You are wiped out from an exhausting day of mom duty, laundry, errands, cooking, cleaning and on any given day, a wide assortment of things you did not plan to tackle. Eating out is so tempting because if you have to stand in the kitchen on your feet in upright position for one minute more than it will be the death of you. But, it can also be expensive. Today, I want to share with you my top ten easy meals to keep on tap or make in a hurry in order to avoid eating out.

1. Frozen pizza--I know I'm stating the obvious. And, no, this is not a particularly healthy alternative. But sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures. I keep a $4 frozen pizza (whichever brand of self-rising crust variety is on sale) on hand at all times. It's my go-to on those rare occasions we have a babysitter or mom is in bed with a migraine.

2. Skabetty--I know my girl doesn't say it that way anymore, but I couldn't resist. Yes, the old jar of spaghetti sauce and some whole grain pasta. Or, my new and improved version--throw in a bag of frozen turkey meatballs.

3. Red beans and rice with cornbread--As Dave Ramsey says, beans and rice, rice and beans. I keep a ready mix of red beans and rice on tap. Throw in some J.iffy cornbread muffins--maybe even some sausage links, and it's a quick meal.

4. Breakfast? Yep, it's what's for dinner! Fry up some eggs--or scramble them, add in some bacon (I'm totally addicted to the precooked bacon you throw in the microwave), maybe some pancakes, and call it a day. Really, you can throw this together in 10 minutes. For variety, I occasionally fry up some ham with it, or grab refrigerated biscuits to make sausage, egg and cheese biscuits.

5. Grilled chicken salad--This is a summer time favorite around here. I throw a few chicken breasts on the G.eorge F.oreman grill with some teriyaki sauce, and mix together a fast green salad. I can't believe it, but my kids actually love this. And, on a hot Texas summer day, I know I can make this in a flash without turning on the oven or stove.

Okay, the second half of my list requires a little more planning--but not work! These are EASY recipes you can throw together and cook. When you know that your day is booked up completely, your crock pot can be your best friend. These recipes require a 5 minute prep and throw in the oven after school--or throw together in the crock pot in the morning.

6. No peek chicken and rice--Throw 1 cup uncooked regular rice (I use brown) in the bottom of a 13" x 9" pan. Add in some chicken breasts--about 6. Then pour 1 can cream of mushroom soup and 2 cups cold water over that. Sprinkle an envelope of dry onion soup mix. Cover tightly with foil and cook at 375 for 90 minutes.

7. Golden Mushroom chicken--Throw about 4-5 chicken breasts (you can also use pork chops) in a 13" x 9" pan. Add in some baby carrots and quartered potatoes (I even leave the skin on). Pour one can of golden mushroom soup over it all. I add either a half can of water or white cooking wine. Cover with foil and cook at about 350 for about an hour or so.

8. Chicken tacos--Throw some chicken breasts in your crock pot. Add in one can of chicken broth and one envelope of taco seasoning. Cook in crock pot on low for about 6 hours. Cut up the chicken, and place in flour tortillas. Add in some cheese or sour cream or guacamole if you want. Maybe even heat up a can of refried beans. EASY.

9. Sausage soup--I throw in a package of sausage links (beef or pork) into the crock pot. I add in a can of diced tomatoes, a can of whole kernal corn, and a can of black beans. Sometimes I add in a dash of garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook on low all day. Serve over minute rice if desired.

10. 5 Hour Stew--Okay, it's 5 hours to COOK, but only about 5 minutes to make and throw in your crock pot! Add in 2 pounds of stew meat, a handful of baby carrots (are you catching my cooking technique? I learned from my dad....), 1/2 chopped onion IF desired, 2 large potatoes unpeeled and quartered, 1 green pepper cut in strips, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 TBS sugar, 1 TBS salt, and 3 TBS corn starch. Cook on low in crock pot all day. Make it fancy option: I take this as a new baby/sick friend meal with some bread bowls I buy at the grocery store.

INTENTIONAL challenge: We will ALL have hectic days. So, let's just plan for it! Keep some easy, throw together meals on tap. In the time it would take you to go to a restaurant and pick up unhealthy fast food, you can make something fast and easy and healthier at home. Your checkbook will thank you! That's my challenge to you. Now, I'd love be challenged by YOU with some of your favorite, easy, go-to meals?! Please comment below and share the love!

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