Why do you like to eat out? Is it because it takes you out of the kitchen? Is it because you don't like the clean-up? Is is because you don't have the time? All of those are reasons I sometimes like to eat out. In my stage of life however, it costs quite a bit to eat out! With two kids no longer eating the kids menu, it can cost us over thirty dollars even if we only order water to drink. That really adds up over time.
I really try to limit my family to eating out two times a month at a sit down restaurant. I will occasionally go out for lunch if I can get a coupon or a deal. Do I feel deprived? Not really, I think about all the money I save and I have learned that I can use some convenience foods to help me make things that are restaurant quality for a fraction of the price.
If time is what I am craving, I rely on my freezer meals and soups. I can have a quick dinner on the table in under fifteen minutes if I use some of the big batch cooking foods.
If clean-up is what I am wanting to get away from, I confess, sometimes we will use paper plates! I also will make a one pot meal that saves me dishes afterwards.
If it is because I am wanting restaurant quality foods, I have found some good, quick, tasty and healthy choices from my Schwan's man. I love tortilla encrusted tilapia but it's so expensive to order fish at a restaurant. Well, Schwan's has four fillets that I can cook at home, adding my own rice and salad and the entire cost is less than one meal out. I also buy shrimp scampi, saute it, add it to cooked linguine and have shrimp scampi linguine for four for less than one order out.
Give yourself a break every now and then and just order a pizza for carry-out. One pizza around here sometimes sells for under ten dollars. Serve it with a salad or veggies and dip and you'll feel like you didn't have to cook!
Don't think that you aren't a successful woman if you don't make-from-scratch everything that goes into your mouths. Be selective and careful about reading the labels, but you can give yourself a treat occassionally by using a convenience food to feed your family and still save money!