It’s the end of a long day, and you’re exhausted from work, school, life in general. You open the fridge to see a couple of questionable apples, leftovers from who-knows-when, a carton of eggs and some straggly veggies. “There’s nothing to eat” you sigh, wishing food would just appear on the table like it did when you lived at home. Unfortunately, you’re on your own now. Too tired to cook, or even think about cooking, you plop down on the couch and pull out your laptop to order delivery from your favorite Thai place.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
Well, next time this happens, stop. Put away your laptop. Open your fridge and think about these reasons why you should attempt cooking rather than go out to eat, or to order delivery once again.
1. Save Your Wallet
Depending on where you live, a typical meal out will cost you anywhere from $8 all the way up to potentially $40. On average, at a nice sit-down place, I’d say after tax and tip, you’ll be paying about $20. Delivery gets even more expensive, some places have a minimum (usually $10-$15), and then add tip, tax and the delivery fee on top of that. A meal that would cost $10 at a restaurant ends up being over $20.
Look what you can get instead of takeout:
Salad greens ($5.00 for 2)
Sliced turkey breast deli meat ($5.00)
Wheat bread ($1.50)
Baby carrots ($0.98)
2. Save Your Waistline
The average restaurant meal was found to contain 1,128 calories, according to the University of Toronto. It also contained 150% of the daily recommended amount of sodium and 89% of the daily recommended amount of fat. If you order a salad, you might as well make the salad at home; it’s easy enough. Restaurant portions are also known to be notoriously big—oftentimes they’re enough to feed two people. But the best thing about cooking yourself is that you bought the ingredients. You made the food. You know exactly how much sugar, salt, oil, etc. you put in it. You want to be healthy? Well, you can make yourself a healthy meal. And at the end of the day, what’s more satisfying than sitting down and eating a meal you cooked yourself?
But let’s go back to the first scenario. It’s hard to cook when you’re tired and the last thing you want to do is be on your feet for another hour. So here are some simple solutions:
1. Prepare your meals ahead of time.
Make one big batch of something at the beginning of the week (Sunday is a good day for this), and save the leftovers. Quinoa and oatmeal are easy to make in bulk and will stay good for the full week. That way, you can bring them for lunch the next day (or couple of days) or heat them up for dinner. Leftovers are easy to make into something new too, so you won’t get bored. And even easier? Just buy a rotisserie chicken—you’ll have leftovers to last you for the whole week.
2. Buy frozen food or deli food.
No, not frozen TV dinners. Not even frozen ready-made meals. But you can buy frozen carrots, peas and corn, as well as frozen shrimp or chicken, and that makes for a quick and easy stir-fry. Try this recipe.
3. Buy versatile foods.
Hummus, eggs, fruits, bread, pasta, rice, nut butter and vegetables are some of the most versatile foods out there. And guess what? They’re usually cheap too. There are a million ways you can mix and match these foods, and most of these ways require minimal cooking.
4. When in doubt, make a salad or a sandwich (or both).
There’s no shame in eating salads or sandwiches for dinner. In fact, they’re delicious. Throw together mixed leafy greens, add some chicken, balsamic vinaigrette and whatever toppings you want, and BOOM you have a filling salad. Take 2 pieces of bread, spread hummus on top, add some chicken, leafy greens and you have a hearty sandwich. Easy. A personal favorite is avocado toast—all you need is a piece of bread and avocado, really, though you can add an egg, smoked salmon or virtually anything you want to it. I eat it all day every day. And the easiest sandwich of all? The classic PB & J.
Now you have these tips in mind, check out these other easy recipes out for inspiration: