I’m guilty of buying takeaway when I can’t be bothered to cook. But, takeaway is not cheap food, especially if you only get one meal out of it.
Before becoming TFC, I would get takeaway for dinner every Friday night. Most of the time this would be pizza, sometimes Thai or Indian. This cost at least $40 each time. When I first started to look at expenditure and ways to reduce costs, takeaway obviously stood out as it was costing us $80- $100 each fortnight for our lazy Friday nights.
To start off, my beloved and I agreed that we would only get takeaway once per fortnight from then on. This was an instant saving of $40-$50 each pay. However, the trouble with this approach was that sometimes there would be more than once a fortnight that I would be too buggered to cook or had a really shitty day at work and just wanted to relax when I got home.
So, the plan sort of worked, but sort of failed at the same time. We did really well some fortnights, but gave in on others and got takeaway twice in the fortnight. This got me thinking about what else we could do to cut back on these costs. So, I decided to start cooking larger batches of food and freezing part of the batch.
I started out making a batch of pizzas on a weekend, cooking one and freezing two. This meant that we had two Friday night dinners covered. I then graduated to making vegetable pies and lasagne at the end of a grocery week to use up surplus veg. I would then freeze most of this so I had a stockpile of pizzas, pies and lasagne for lazy nights.
This has enabled us on numerous occasions to come home from work, throw a meal in the oven, relax, and then eat when we can’t be bothered to cook. Recently, I’ve been shopping at our local seafood shop for salmon frames for $5.50 a kilo. My beloved then fillets these frames to the bone and I make fresh salmon patties out of the meat.
A kilo of these salmon off cuts gives us enough meat for 10 salmon patties, without filler. This makes 5 meals for each of us. However, if I were to add flour and a few vegies or beans, we could stretch this even further. As a result, we now rotate between quick and easy oven meals, salmon burgers, or salmon patties and veg when we can’t be bothered to cook.
All of these options are quick and easy, requiring minimal effort. Furthermore, we have control over their contents, so we pack even the unhealthy cheap food options full of vegetables to give them decent nutritional value.
I want to stress that buying or cooking in bulk is usually only cost effective if you don’t turn on an extra appliance to accommodate it. In order to accommodate our new lifestyle, I’ve cleaned out our existing freezer to allow room for our meal options. So far, we’ve squeezed everything in. But that’s probably only because I only make about a month’s worth (8 meal options) at once.
Overall, we’re now spending about $25 a month on lazy food nights, rather than the $160- $200 we were originally spending. Sure, I’ll admit that this method requires more effort, but the $ savings alone are definitely worth it!