Take time to plan!
Honestly, the reason many do not fix most dinners at home is not because there is not enough time, but is because there is not enough planning ahead. Jeff and I have found that it is cheaper to eat at home, taste better, helps you manage your body weight, and it actually is faster than stopping somewhere to get food! So I thought I would share with you my planning in hopes that it will help you manage the time you spend at the grocery and in the kitchen...but remember you have to find what works for you!
Plan for the Month
At the beginning of every month, Jeff and I come up with about 10 dinners we would like to eat that month. I keep a board in the kitchen with the month's choices and mark them off as we make them. I then plan for one big grocery trip to get non-perishables such as canned foods, frozen foods, and meat/poultry/fish that I can freeze.
Make your List
Use your dinner list to make a grocery list. Since I keep all my recipes on cards, I usually grab all the cards, read through them one at a time, and write down any ingredient I will need. You will find that the more you cook at home, the more items you will already have in your kitchen. Remember, you only want to get the items that won't spoil before you want to use them.
Know your Store
Take your list, and organize it to fit your store. And no, this doesn't take that long to do. Shopping at the same store will allow you to do this quickly, as you will come to know exactly where to find everything, and therefore, can put you list in the order you will be walking through the store.
Stick to Your List
The key to saving money and time is to stick to your list!
Shop for Produce, Dairy, and Deli Items Weekly
At the beginning of the week decide which meals you want to make and get the remaining ingredients for those dishes.
When you are planning your meals, look at the ads to know what is on sale and take advantage of it. We usually have one or two meals that are not planned knowing we will find a good deal or two. And use coupons!
Jeff and I always plan to make enough of each dinner for at least two dinners. That means that we are only cooking two nights of the week...talk about healthy "fast food"!