My best tips for eating only homemade food

  • In an attempt to eat healthier and save money, I decided to make all my food at home.
  • I found that planning ahead was crucial when it came to no longer eating out.
  • Using Pinterest as a source for recipes kept me inspired as did keeping track of how much money I was saving.

I used to be the queen of fast food and takeout. Whether it was a quick double cheeseburger and fries on my way home from work or ordering in some Chinese food several nights a week, I was spending a lot of money on food that wasn’t all that good for me. Not only that, I was gaining a ton of weight in the process.

When I embarked on a journey to lose over 120 pounds last year, I decided that a big change needed to take place in my kitchen, too. Mainly, I needed to be making all the food I ate instead of getting it from fast-food joints and greasy take-out spots. Not only is being the master of my culinary destiny helping me drop the weight I want, but I’ve also saved a ton of cash.

Here are some of my biggest tips if you’d like to do the same.

Plan ahead

Prepping meals for the week will save you both time and money.
Wellness Wildflower/Flickr

You’ve probably heard the saying before that failing to plan is planning to fail and it’s so true.

Before I started thoroughly planning and shopping for my week’s meals ahead of time, I often found myself at my wit’s end, nearly falling over with hunger after a tough workout or a long day at work with nothing prepared and a few random ingredients that in no way came together to make an actual recipe. Inevitably, I’d end up grabbing a ready-meal from a local supermarket or even ordering food to go, which always made me feel bad and interfered with my weight-loss goals.

Ultimately, it took dedicating time every weekend to sit down, bookmark specific recipes, make a grocery list, and ensure I had a meal plan together for the coming week. Once I did that, it was much easier to ensure that everything I eat is homemade.

Fall in love with leftovers

Most people don’t have time to cook fresh meals seven days a week. I work full-time and between going to the gym, running errands, and spending time with family and friends, getting into the kitchen every day would be near on impossible. Since I plan my meals, however, I often have leftovers and one dish will last me two or three days.

I don’t mind eating the same thing more than once, and being able to throw some curry in a pan to reheat or saute some vegetables I’d steamed the day before to eat with grilled chicken makes my life a whole lot easier.

Read more: 9 ways to make leftover food taste brand new

Make Pinterest your best friend

Pinterest allows you to keep all your recipes in one place.
Vivek Prakash/Reuters

I own plenty of cookbooks, but it’s often hard to remember what’s in them when you’re not looking at them. If you’re someone who gets bored with your regular menu a lot, you need a Pinterest account. I use the site to bookmark recipes I come across online that look good and that I’d like to make one day, and this has provided endless menu inspiration.

The best part is that you can create as many different Pinterest “boards” as you’d like with particular themes, so you can arrange your pinned recipes in ways that will be easy to find again in future. Whether you do it by type of cuisine, type of food, or whatever else works for you, you’ll always have inspiration for delicious things to make.

Read more: 11 things you didn’t know you could use Pinterest for

Find homemade versions of your favorite restaurant foods

Is there anything worse than knowing you have a fridge full of groceries but all you want is your favorite General Tso’s chicken or that amazing burger your local restaurant makes? Whatever fast-food or restaurant item you can think of, I guarantee you there’s an amazing copycat version out there that you can make yourself. Not only will it taste just as delicious (or pretty close), it’ll also save you money and likely some calories by making it yourself.

Do a cost comparison

Pay attention to how much money you save grocery shopping.
Justin Sullivan/GettyImages

If there’s one thing that will inspire you to continue to make all — or at least the bulk of — your food at home, it’ll be seeing how much money you save by not eating out. While it’s great to hit up your favorite restaurant for a special occasion, on a daily basis, you should feel comfortable with making your meals at home.

Every time you have the overwhelming urge to order a pizza or Chinese food or to go out to a restaurant, take the money you would have spent on your usual order and put it in a separate savings account. You’ll be amazed by how much ends up in there over the course of a month, or even better, over a year. Compare that to how much you spend on groceries and I think you’ll see a pretty stark difference.

Read more: 10 foods you should be buying if you want to save money


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