Tired of spending money on fast food? Use these five tips to stop eating fast food. Eat healthier and save money by consistently eating at home.
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Fast food is likely the most unhealthy part of the American family diet. The average American family eats 4.2 commercially prepared meals per week. In other words, as a nation, we eat out between four and five times a week, on average. This number equates to 18.2 meals in an average month eaten outside the home.
It’s easier than ever not to cook, and Americans are taking advantage of that. The average household spends $3,008 per year on dining out, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. That is over $3k per year we can save if we simply start eating at home, plus the health benefits of avoiding fast food.
Seven Ways to Stop Eating Fast Food
Have a Menu Plan
Having a plan for your weekly or monthly menu saves you from the paralysis of standing in front of your pantry wondering what you can possibly make for dinner while you kids are screaming in the background. Choose one day each week and plan your menu for the following week, then do your shopping. Check menu plan each evening to be sure you have the next day’s meals thawing or prepped as much as possible.
Use the free printable daily plan sheet below to plan your menu for each day on the same page as your daily schedule and to do list. I recommend doing this the night before.
Eat Before You Leave Home
Try to make sure you schedule your outings around meal times, then you can eat at home. You may not always be able to accomplish this one, but if you are at least thinking about meal times, you will do much better. I have blocks of time on my time blocked schedule that I know are safe for scheduling appointments and errands. These are intentionally scheduled outside of meal times.
Meals on the Go
Have a list of several meals that can be taken “on-the-go.” Having a go-to list of these meals makes it easier to think of them in a pinch for unplanned trips out. Having this list also makes it easier to include the items on your grocery list each week.
If you often find yourself away from home at meal times, particularly with your children, you should definitely carry snacks in your vehicle or purse. Sometimes, a small snack is all it takes to get you through one more errand and then home where you can whip up a quick meal.
Have Back Up Meals
Do you ever forget to lay out something for dinner? Forget to put that freezer meal in the crock pot? Always keep the ingredients on hand in your pantry for a few easy back up meals like Hot Bean and Cheese Dip, or Simple Southern Pinto Beans. Typically, a back up meal is one that can go from prep to table in 30 minutes or less. It also helps if back up meals are ones that most everyone in your house will eat.
Cooking a full meal from scratch every evening can be time consuming and, in some cases, completely unrealistic. There are several methods of cooking, like COST Cooking (Cook Once Serve Twice) and Freezer Cooking that allow you to cook on days when you actually have time. Using one of these methods allows you to get a healthy dinner on the table in much less time.
Opt for the Grocery Store
If you are caught out of your house at meal time with a van full of kids, and you have no other choice than to feed them, you can always opt to stop at a grocery store instead of a fast food drive thru. Many grocery stores have ready made items in the deli that are much less expensive and usually healthier than fast food options. You can also pick up some items to make a sandwich or even just some snacks to hold everyone until you get home.