Cooking and dining tips to help you save money

We have a handful of ideas for cooking at home that will help your budget.

You will be surprised by how much cash you can save.

Q: How can cooking at home save me money?

A: Cooking at home as opposed to dining out can save you a ton of cash and help you eat a wider variety of healthy foods. Check out these ideas to get started.

-- Freezer cooking. Plan meals around the items you have bought on sale and frozen. You can also bake a variety of casseroles, soups and stews and then freeze them for later use. This prevents you from running out for takeout and lets you eat dinner for less.

-- Convenience can cost you. Instead of buying sliced chicken breast or hard-boiled eggs, just slice or cook your own. The same thing goes for sliced fruit and vegetables. When you buy convenience items, you are paying extra for the work that has been done for you.

-- Enjoy leftover night. We all have nights when we don't want to cook. Try serving a smorgasbord of the week's leftovers one night each week. Not only will you clean out your refrigerator, but you will also save money by wasting less food.

-- Stick to simple recipes. Everything does not have to be a five-course or gourmet meal. Prepare simple recipes and dishes that require only a handful of ingredients. You can find all sorts of recipes with three ingredients or less on websites such as realsimple.com or food.com, among others.

-- Create a plan ahead of time to avoid the dinnertime rush that can lead to eating out. To avoid expensive restaurant food, try planning a weekly menu that includes some quick options for dinner at home. On the nights where things get crazy, you can have your backup plan ready to go.

-- Slow cookers can be lifesavers. Throw dinner in the slow cooker in the morning and forget it. You can then enjoy a perfect home-cooked meal for which you didn't have to work hard. Add some bread or a simple side salad and you are all set.

-- Cook in bulk. Making chili tonight? Consider doubling or tripling the recipe for a home-cooked meal later.

Follow these tips and see how easy it is to eat at home for less.

(For more tips on saving money, go to time2saveworkshops.com. Email time2saveblogger@gmail.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.)
 

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