As the dawn of 2010 is here, the crew at The Bitch Stopped Cooking would like to offer you a resolution: eat at home more! Eating at home frequently is good on the wallet and it's good for you!
One thing that I love to do is make a big batch of soup, chili, or lasagna, and freeze single portions in pyrex in the freezer. Then, on a day where I have nothing to bring for lunch or don't have time/food to make dinner, then I can just grab it out of the freezer and heat up. This way, I don't eat out for lunch or order in dinner as much. Also, the food I make is good and I know what went into it!
Another good tip is to have a handful of go-to recipes that you always have the ingredients for so you don't have to plan to make them. We like to do this with tacos, which are the PERFECT thing to make when there's "nothing to make for dinner". I like to get the taco kits with the hard and soft tacos and then we keep ground beef in the freezer or beans in the cabinet, and we generally have salsa, lettuce, shredded cheese, and sour cream on hand. On our website there are some recipes in the forum that are good go-to recipes. Try the mustard crusted chicken! Once you have your handful of recipes, keep them together for easy reference. I have a bookmarks folder on my computer with my favorite recipes in it, and I also have post-it notes on certain pages in my cookbooks. www.epicurious.com has some cool features for saving recipes and adding notes to them if you register (it's free).
If you're not bringing your lunch to work already, I suggest investing in a lunchbag and some small glass pyrex bowls with lids. Whenever I cook dinner I make about two servings extra so that we both can have lunch to bring the next day. I put it in pyrex dishes when cleaning up after dinner so that I don't have to do anything in the morning.
Another great thing about eating at home is that it can be more close of an experience than going out or ordering food. Cooking can be a fun group experience (unless the bitch refuses to help) and you can even involve kids, if you have some on hand. If I had them on hand, I would employ them to do things like cutting up fresh herbs (using kid scissors), flattening chicken breasts (using a rolling pin), or mixing things. If they get in the way, have them set the table instead. To make it fun have them make placetags! Having another (grownup) to do "prep work" like chopping peppers or measuring out ingredients can be really helpful. If they get in the way, have them take over. Eating dinner at home is also an experience that can bring people together. You can laugh louder than you do in a restaurant and you can do it in your pajamas! Turn off the tv, though. In my house we have a rule where the TV can't be on when we're eating dinner, and we always eat at the table. We do make exceptions to the rule, but only when there is something on that we really really really want to watch, or if the kitchen table is really really really messy. If you start running out of things to talk about with your family, look up a riddle online before sitting down to dinner and then have everyone try to figure it out.
Hopefully these tips will be helpful! Please feel free to add any additional tips that you use or know of!
Stock your pantry and let's all have a great 2010 around our kitchen tables.