Fall sports and music practices are underway. Between practices and work, many families are eating on the run during the week. Besides getting old quick, fast food is more expensive and less healthy than a meal prepared at home. Of course with back-to-back practices that’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Here are some tips and recipes to save time, money, and eat healthy during the weeks when life seems to be lived out of the car.
* On practice days, keep a stocked cooler in the trunk with juice boxes and bottled water. Even if you go through a drive-thru for your meal, you can save several dollars on just the drinks.
* Pre-package your own chips, veggies, and snacks on the weekends. One bag of chips can be divided into 10 or 12 plastic baggies. A bag of mini-carrots will divide into about six baggies. A large bag of trail mix will make 10 to 12 one-cup portions.
* Keep a basket stocked with napkins, plastic utensils, and a few plastic grocery bags (to use as trash bags). Here’s my basket and I just love it. It’s collapsible, the handle folds down, and it’s lightweight too!
* Who says sandwiches have to be dull? Instead of loaf bread, use pita or make rollups with flat bread. Chicken and tuna salad are fun. Check out some of the new seasoned meats from Boar’s Head. My family loves their Ever Roast and BBQ Chicken–it’s replaced our usual smoked turkey. Dress sandwiches up with a fun condiment such as Boar’s Head’s PepperHouse Gourmaise –even my six-year-old likes it. No, I am not being paid to give Boar’s Head a shout-out, just sharing what my family enjoys on sandwich nights. Yes, it is a bit pricer than other deli meat, but 1 lb of meat, bread, and some chips is still cheaper than a drive through for our family of six–and equals a couple of meals.
* Insulated thermoses are perfect for soup or chili on the go. Something as simple as creamy tomato soup and cheese sandwiches is great for a nippy fall night. Here are a few more ideas: beef stew, taco soup, pasta (yes, even spaghetti works in a thermos!), B-B-Q pork or chicken (spoon onto buns), and chicken & rice. Heat everything in the microwave or oven and spoon into thermos before heading out the door.
* When you do eat out, know where all the kids-eat-free and special value nights are located. You can check your area at Kids Eat Free too.
How do you save money on hectic weeknights?