Let’s Talk About Eating Out – I Need Your Input!

Let's Talk About Eating Out

I’m working on a new project that I’m hoping will:

  • Save you $$ by helping you avoid falling back on take-out as frequently
  • Save you $$ by helping you avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store
  • Save you time by helping you easily prepare tasty meals for the freezer which can be thawed and cooked with little effort
  • Save you even more time by making your dinnertime meal prep take 10 minutes or less
  • Save your energy when you’re tired at the end of the day
  • Make your family meals times a blessing

I want to equip you with everything you need, from grocery list to check-list.  And of course, I’m playing with new recipe ideas that your family will love.  My men happen to love this part of my job.  ;)

Before I get too far into this project, I’m hoping you’ll answer these questions for me:

  • How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?
  • How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”
  • How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it.  Let’s go out.”
  • About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?
  • What kinds of recipes would help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?

By the way, you’ll receive no judgement from me about your eating out habits. :)  As you know, our family eats out here and there when we’re on the road and shucks if I don’t love me a good burger and fries as a treat when we splurge like this.

But since you and I are working together to become healthier, to feed our families well, and to save money and time while doing so – I think we can all agree that eating out should be a treat, not the norm.  Not to mention the deliciousness of home-cooked food.  Melt-in-your-mouth goodness, that’s what it is.  Thus, we will all benefit from this new project I’m working on.

Thank you in advance for helping me by answering any or all of the questions above.  :)

Comments

  1. says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? — Usually 45min-1 hr
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”– Probably 2
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”– Not often. Maybe once every 4-5 months, but not usually b/c we didn’t feel like cooking. Instead, if we don’t feel like it, we go pick up a frozen pizza, usually the really fattening, unnatural kind :(
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?– $25-40
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?– It would be nice to have a frozen pizza substitute. Something that I can literally throw in the oven bc I already prepared it!

    [Reply]

    Verity Reply:

    Here’s something else I plan on doing when I have the space (one word says it all: remodel). Every meal I’m planning on doubling or tripling the recipes. Then hubby and I will eat one and portion and freeze the others. Too tired from remodeling? Yay, home cooked freezer meal to the rescue!

    I’m also trying to be very disciplined about making at least one extra item a day that can last for a while. Yesterday was Laura’s chocolate syrup, tomorrow will be adventures in gluten free tortillas. Today is toasted cause I was out all day running errands (read, picking up my new-to-me Bosch Universal Plus mixer, weeeeee!) I might make gluten free macaroni salad tomorrow too, it makes a great side for quick grill dinners. Point is I just try to make one thing extra a day that I can use as sides or pieces for a quick meal later. It’s really helping build depth in my available items, lets me experiment with new things (like the tortillas), and makes me feel good about moving ahead instead of always scrambling to catch up, lol.

    [Reply]

    Meg Reply:

    I love those ideas!! and how can you go wrong with chocolate syrup!! That makes everything better :D

    [Reply]

    Verity Reply:

    Lol, yeah. Hubby and I have an addiction to chocolate milk for breakfast. I jumped for joy when I found the syrup recipe on the site here. Bye-bye hersheys nasty HFC and other yucky stuff!)

  2. Mimi says

    •I spend about an hour most nights.
    •I don’t feel like cooking most nights, maybe every night.
    • I throw my hands in the air and give up a few times a month. It would be more if we could afford it ;-)
    • Our family of five can eat a decent meal at chipotle for just under $25.
    • I would like to be able to prepare easy, healthy, meals in ten minutes… so “throw together” type meals. Freezer meals are great, but I still would like for them to be quick and easy to throw together. If I have to spend an entire Saturday afternoon putting together freezer meals, I’m probably not going to do it honestly :-( I am just not a cook, I was not blessed with that gene. So feeding my family well feels like torture most days.

    [Reply]

    Verity Reply:

    Those frozen pizzas are easier than you’d think. Make the crusts and bake them plain til they are almost done. Let them cool then top them with sauce (tomato paste with italian herbs heated on the stove top is super simple) and your favorite toppings and cheese. Set on a tray in your freezer and when they are frozen, wrap them in butcher paper and label them. They should keep a month or so if tightly wrapped. (I still just use plastic wrap, Laura might have a better wrapping suggestion.) Then just toss in the oven for 15 mins or so when you need a fast meal. You could also make each part of the pizza individually and freeze it til you are ready to put it all together. I actually buy gluten free pizza crusts right now and have everything else ready to top and put in the oven.

    [Reply]

    Meg Reply:

    I realllly need to start doing this, thanks for the encouragement!

    [Reply]

    Mimi Reply:

    Thanks! Where do you find gluten free pizza crusts?

    [Reply]

    Verity Reply:

    Udi’s makes them. I have found them at Kroger and Whole Foods. I’m sure they are stocked elsewhere also. They are expensive, but nice to have for now until I get more capability stood up. Small steps, right? :)

    K Sam Reply:

    You know, I’ve never thought of that! I’ve made and froze the crusts, but then never seem to have all the rest of ingredients on hand when I want to make them. That’s so simple that it’s embarrasing. Duh. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Birdie Reply:

    Hi Verity. Thanks for great pizza tips. I make the crust, topping go on, cover tightly and freeze. They bake from frozen state and are far better than store.

    [Reply]

  3. Verity says

    I’m recovering from severe hypo-thyroid. Didn’t have any energy to do anything for years. And now that I’m recovering, I’ve lost whatever planning abilities I had, so having to rebuild all that kind of stuff. I’m finding your blog incredibly inspiring to make hubby and I healthy meals, often from scratch. He has recently had to go gluten free, so I pretty much *have* to make everything at home now, and I can only imagine its going so well because of God’s blessings, both in energy for me and people like you who encourage all of us. Thanks a ton, Laura! I don’t know how you do it all, but I’m grateful you take the time to help us all out. :) I look forward at what everyone comes up with to make it even easier to feed ourselves and families great healthy meals!

    [Reply]

  4. Sara says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? 45-90 minutes
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” 1 or 2
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” every 2-3 months
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? $55-$100
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? My challenge is finding something we all will eat. Husband is vegetarian, I have 4-y-old twins who are very good eaters but refuse potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and any kind of soup or casserole. They eat tons of vegetables and rice and pasta, and we will all eat shrimp and mussels, but my husband prefers to eat processed soy products, such as veggie dogs or veggie burgers, as his protein. The boys see that and want to eat that instead of the chicken or whatever I’ve made for the three of us. I don’t like them eating processed foods and it’s becoming quite the battle. That was just a vent, which I know is of no help to you! Sorry. I think I just need some new seafood recipes and maybe some new recipes for grains other than rice. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Karlene Reply:

    We have a similar issue (to the soy products), except that I am the vegetarian. My 2 daughters and husband eat meat. My youngest (7) will often say she wants to eat Mommy’s meat… my oldest prefers Daddy’s. I have found that instead of using pre-made soy products as my protein, when I make casseroles that use meat my vegetarian version uses beans or tofu (lightly fried sometimes)… although I am trying to get away from tofu as soy can mess with hormones and I’m trying to find out if that is true for me.
    But for us right now, we have made the choice that this is not a hill to die on, so long as she is getting her protein-that is more important. And it is easier to avoid those pre-made items because I would prefer to do other proteins myself.
    I don’t know if this would work for the soy products, but my hubby’s bad eating habit can be soda. My girl’s are aware of the negative health benefits of soda as we learned about it in health/human anatomy and inform him of it politely nearly every time he drinks it-and they don’t ask for it often-probably because the answer is usually no. Depending on their ages, there are some very good age-appropriate healthy eating books out there that helped us teach them about foods. Let me know if you would like ideas on that!

    [Reply]

  5. Kristin says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?
    It varies greatly, but probably usually about 30 minutes hands on time.

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”
    1 or so.

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”
    Very rarely, because I’m too cheap!

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?
    For anything but pizza, it’s hard to spend less than $50.

    I accidentally erased the last question, but recipes using pantry items, especialky easy ones. I don’t keep many convenience foods on hand. I usually don’t even have spaghetti sauce. So easy meals for those nights when I’m fried! :)

    [Reply]

  6. Kathleen says

    I’ve never added up the cooking time. We are gone in the evenings 4 nights a week–3 of them we eat at 8:30pm! On those nights, I try to plan ahead and either have something in the crockpot or something that is served cold. We also keep sliced veggies in the fridge to pull out and add to a meal or as a snack.

    Since I’m only home 3 nights a week, I rarely don’t feel like cooking. And we rarely go out. Maybe once a month. When we do, the bill is usually in the $60 range, since we don’t eat fast food.

    I need more fix ahead type recipes that can feed a crowd and don’t require an oven immediately before serving!

    [Reply]

  7. Lauren S. says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?-15-30 minutes (I have three kids under 6) I do a lot of prep during nap time or while they are entertained.
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” 1-2
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”-2-3 times a month. Usually due to an illness in the house if we have any or if I burn the meal or forget an important ingredient I can substitute. I need to have back up meals.
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? Fast food about $30 (that is ridiculous!) and $10-15 more if its a sit down.
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? I need “back up” meal ideas of ingredients I already have on hand. So quick easy meals I can throw together on those nights when I burn a meal, ruin a meal or forgot to plan a meal. As a young mom I need easy dinners.

    [Reply]

  8. Maureen says

    – about 30 minutes
    – 1 night per week
    – 1 time per month (we also order pizza 2-3 times per month, go out about once a month, and have leftovers a couple of times per month…so that helps mix things up a bit)
    – $50-60 average for the 5 of us, we can do it for less at some restaurants
    – quick meals from mostly pantry staples (My husband isn’t a big fan of most casserole type dishes and my kids are too picky to eat most of them with things all mixed up. I use my freezer a lot, but typically for meal components.)

    Thanks!!

    [Reply]

  9. S.M. says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?
    – Anywhere from 15-60 mins.

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”
    -I love cooking, but there’s probably 1-2 days a week I’m so tired I don’t feel like cooking

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”
    -Pretty much never, when we go out to eat it’s planned in advance, about once a month or when traveling is all we really eat out.

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?
    -$50

    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?

    I often cook extra and freeze for those nights I don’t feel like cooking, so any recipe that freezes well. Also egg recipes would be nice cause I often make a quick egg dish with fresh fruit/veggie if I’m not in the cooking mood.

    [Reply]

  10. Anitra says

    * How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?
    Anything from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how familiar I am with the recipe and how many times I need to stop and take care of a child.

    *How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”
    Honestly, 2-3 nights a week.

    * How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”
    A few times a month (less than once a week! A huge improvement over a few years ago!)

    *About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?
    $30-50, unless it’s something super cheap (like pizza, or my guilty pleasure: Taco Bell)

    *What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?
    Simple, flexible meals – ones where it’s easy to make substitutions (ie. a casserole with rice, ham, and peas suddenly becomes one with pre-cooked chicken and green beans instead)

    [Reply]

  11. Heather says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?
    -Usually it’s my husband who does the actual cooking, but I’d say it’s about 30 minutes most nights, because we have many ingredients in the freezer ready to go. But I’d say that the two of us spend about 7-8 hours every weekend doing all that prep work to make our work weeks manageable.

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”
    -Probably 1 or 2, but we have easy back-up plans for those nights (pancakes with dry ingredients premeasured with lots of fruit, etc)

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”
    -Never. I have a 4 year old and twin 2 year olds. Staying home, even if we eat fruit and cheese, is easier. Plus, my husband has a corn allergy (which is in EVERYTHING processed or from a restaurant). There are 2 places in our city where he can eat 1 item on the menu. We maybe go out twice per year in a good year, if that. We aren’t above a frozen store-bought pizza now and then, though (the one variety from the one brand we have found that is corn free).

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?
    -I’m not even sure what it would be. My two year olds have never been to a restaurant (so I guess we don’t go out twice a year then, now that I think of it!). Way more than is in our tight budget.

    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?
    -Things that can be prepared quickly if our original plan doesn’t work out or we get home late, which happens a few times a month. I’d love a pre-made frozen pizza or one where the crust doesn’t take long to rise (we always have pre-shredded cheese and sauce ready to go in the freezer). Things that have meat as flavor instead of the main feature. Things that allow us to incorporate veggies into the dish instead of on the side (we tend to eat more veggies if they are incorporated–if they are in the side, my husband and I serve them to the kids, but forget to take them for ourselves).

    [Reply]

  12. MarieR says

    I spend about 20 mins to 1 hour cooking in the evening.
    Once every other week, I don’t feel like cooking, but we cannot afford to eat out in the evening. So we stay home, and I will get something simple together. Best simplest meal is left over rice with bacon and different veggies.
    We typically eat fast food at lunch time, and it costs us about $30 for the 5, sometimes 6 of us (I take care of a 3 year old during the day)
    Where I struggle most is finding recipes for lunch. I don’t do sandwiches, and cold lunch are not my favorite thing (I homeschool 4 children).

    [Reply]

  13. Shaela says

    We are a family of 6 so to eat out its 40-60 dollars. I rarely throw my hands up and go out because in the time it takes to load everyone up and go and wait, I can throw something together. I love slow cooker meals, quick prep like salmon patties and veggies too. I love 30 minutes or less recipes since we have many activities/ homeschool during the week.

    [Reply]

  14. Amber says

    About 30 min norm. We have some quicker meals and every once in a while I’ll make something that takes longer.
    Maybe 2 nights.
    Once every couple of months.
    Around $25 2 adults and 2 small children.
    I would love to have more simple 1 pot meal ideas.
    I can’t wait to see what you share!
    Thanks for everything!

    [Reply]

  15. Melinda says

    I spend an average of 20 minutes of actual hands-on time making a totally homemade supper. This doesn’t include the time spent once in a while making big batches of things like bone broth, nor does it include the time the meal is baking or simmering away without me.

    I don’t feel like cooking at least 3 times a week. We go out to eat on average 6 times a month.

    We spend an average of $35 for the 6 of us each time.

    [Reply]

  16. Jaclyn says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?
    – 30 min hands on… so not including bulk prep or cooking time.

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”
    – almost every night. It is not really the cooking that I do not feel like doing, but the planning. Our schedule is all over the place, we have 3 children 4 and under and it feels like all I do is think about and plan food.

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”
    – eating out is almost always planned. Once a month maybe.

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?
    – we usually share things and our toddlers split meals, too. $20

    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?
    – I think you already do well at this, Laura!!!

    [Reply]

  17. michelle says

    1. Average 45 minutes i think. Most days I try to get as much done throughout the day as I get the time or energy!
    2. Right now every night but under normal circumstances I would say 2.
    3. Probably twice a month.
    4. We usually spend around $30. There are three of us and we go for a sit down place over fast food.
    5. Freezer meals! Especially freezer to crock pot meals (and really crockpot meals in general)

    I am so excited about this project! I just found out i am pregnant and am wanting to load up the freezer with lots of healthy food options this summer so that we have healthy, nourishing and easy meals for the busy newborn days!

    [Reply]

  18. says

    I usually spend 30 – 60 minutes making dinner.

    I don’t feel like cooking more nights than I would like to admit, not because I don’t enjoy cooking, but because it can be a challenge after a long day.

    We NEVER go out to eat unless we are traveling or it is a VERY special occasion and then only about once a year.

    If we were to eat at a local restaurant (we live in a very small town), it would cost us at least $40 for the 4 of us and that is being conservative.

    I am always interested in meals that take less time to get dinner on the table, but that are still healthy and frugal.

    Looking forward to this project, Laura!

    [Reply]

  19. Carie W-F says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? At least an hour, I tend to start as soon as bfast is cleared- some prep.
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” a solid 2.
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” All the time but we don’t, maybe once a month husband gets take out (Papa Murphy, mexican, thai )
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? at least $30
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? I’ve struck out buying sauces, too spicy, too sweet, no one can agree:( I wish there was a magic bullet for stir fry- veggies, sauce, meat/protein- we love rice n beans but avoiding gluten.

    [Reply]

  20. Kim says

    – spend about 30 min to an hour cooking
    – don’t feel like cooking at least 3, nights per week
    – eat out at least twice a week
    – need esdy meals with few ingredients that appeal to kids

    [Reply]

  21. Julie says

    Hands-on prep time is usually 30-45 minutes.
    I usually don’t feel like cooking dinner. For me, cooking is a chore; I do it because it has to be done.
    We regularly plan for eating out or getting take out so there are fewer of those “let’s just eat out tonight” nights. When we do eat out, our bill is usually around $50.
    I’ve tried many freezer meals and just wasn’t happy with them. I prefer to have meal components frozen and ready to go.
    Winter meals are more challenging for me. We try to use produce only from our garden, and by the time we hit February we’ve got carrots and assorted frozen vegetables and carrots and carrots. The only vegetable I buy regularly is lettuce. My husband is not a fan of soup but does like thick, hearty stews.

    [Reply]

  22. Margaret D says

    Our situation is very different than most of the responses but here goes.
    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? Zero. We eat our main meal at noon. Those meals take on average 30 minutes. We do use the crockpot on Sundays to have our meal ready when we arrive home from Church.

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” Never. We make up menus three to four weeks in advance. We are flexible with them. Evening meals are either leftovers or sandwiches and soup.

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” Never. It isn’t an option for us now. There is always something ready or easy to prepare. Having menus have been a big help.

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? It has been so long since we actually eat out I have no idea. When we did we eat in a restaurant, we tried to stay around $30 for three adults. We do treat ourselves with a very good but expensive take-out pizza that gives us enough for a meal and a snack which costs about $40 for two extra large pizzas.

    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? I love your “Oh,For Real” cookbook. We use it when making our menus. We don’t keep prepared foods on hand, so meals than use staples that we do keep on hand like rice, beans, lentils, stock/broth and pasta.

    [Reply]

  23. alicia says

    I spend 10 to 45ish minutes on hands on dinner prep (depending on how much of the meal has already been prepped and stashed in the freezer…so actually more than that, just on a different day!)
    Not feel like it…honestly? Most days. But I just follow the plan and push through. Having a daily meal list saves my patooty!!
    Eat out? Unless it’s pizza (once or twice a month…yes, I know I could make it faster, cheaper, healthier, but it’s a treat! For me (well, obviously I’m NOT COOKING (: and for kids who love watching for The Pizza Guy & husband who really just likes it!), the cost is $50ish at local places we like. Could be way more, but we tend to do take-out, so have drinks at home & easier to share meals that way…we do this maybe once a month. Maybe twice?
    Meals that would help? Wow Laura! You do this already! I’m a freezer cooking addict. Especially at stashing shredded chicken and cooked ground beef…meals that involve pulling out a pack and making it a meal quickly (and by quickly I mean hands-on time). (Oh! A great list I have in my food binder is meals that can be made with these things. My brain takes all the help it can get! That might be a good resource for people who need ideas!) No way am I pulling out raw meat at suppertime! Did I mention we have 5 kids, youngest is 8 months? (; Love meals like baked spaghetti, tacos, casseroles I can pull stuff from the freezer and chop up some veggies & fruit and call it supper. You have great recipes for things like that! Thank yoooouuuuuuuu!!!

    [Reply]

  24. Melissa says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? ….. 30-40 minutes.

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” ….. 5-7 (It’s fear that makes me feel that way. I have no strong plan, no confidence in my ability to do all of the chopping, sauteeing, baking… and have it all done at the same time. Oh, and I doubt my entire family will like it. I’m a vegetarian, my husband has high meal expectations and I have a 5 and 6 year old. I’m typically missing one small ingredient too!)

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” …… If it was my choice, most nights. We usually go out about 2x week.

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? …… Family of 4 (2 small kids) = about $40 – 60. (including tip)

    What kinds of recipes would help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? ….. Vegetarian (that you can easily add chicken or beef to to make it meat friendly as well). Truly freezer friendly; pull it out of freezer and bake. = Easy. Also, I love a crock pot!

    I do not mind spending a few hours every now and then doing some cooking for the freezer or prep work. When there is no pressure of putting a meal on the table I’m good. I just feel paralyzed with fear when I’m under pressure to prepare a full meal. I dread 4 o’clock each day.

    [Reply]

  25. Kristin says

    I spend an average of 20-60 minutes on dinner prep, and do try to plan for easier meals on nights when I know I will have less time.

    I don’t feel like cooking 1-2 nights per week (usually due to busy schedule, or poor planning), but only throw my hands up and declare we are eating out maybe once or twice per month, due to a tight budget. On the nights when I don’t feel like cooking something but we don’t go out, I usually make something frozen or from a box.

    If we do eat out spur of the moment, it is usually pizza or Chinese, about $20. Occasionally, my husband will get a craving for fast food and bring some home. This is usually unrelated to whether I am in the mood to cook.

    We only eat out in restaurants on special occasions. As my cooking skills have improved, we are less impressed with the quality of restaurant meals, and REALLY unimpressed with the value, or lack thereof. Last time we went out to a national chain restaurant, even after a $25 gift card, I think we still paid almost $50 out-of-pocket. Not worth it in my book, for mediocre Italian.

    I think if I were better at batch cooking, we could avoid some convenience foods. Seems like you’ve already covered that, though, and have plenty of recipes that can be made ahead and frozen. I just need to DO IT.

    [Reply]

    Kristin Reply:

    Oh, also, one thing I struggle with is cooking in the summer. We don’t have central air, and the house gets so hot! We don’t have a grill, either, and meat-centered meals every night are just not in the budget right now. So no or low-cook meals would be helpful, something other than sandwiches.

    [Reply]

  26. says

    *How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?
    30 mins-1 hour, except Sundays usually nicer meals

    *How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”
    Only when I’ve been out all day

    *How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”
    Only when I’m gone all day. Or we’ve been working on a huge project.

    *About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?
    Well we are a family of 12! So even mc Donald’s (yuck!!!) is atleast $50 on the cheap!

    *What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?
    I love simple quick fixes, need to make freezer space for frozen meals, and LOVE my crockpot! Even when I am going to be gone all day, I can use my crockpot!

    I’m a bit different, as I have a large family. I also love to cook- and cook healthy meals for my children!

    [Reply]

  27. Jill says

    •How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? From scratch 30 minutes active time.
    •How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” Never. I love cooking and so does hubby, so when I don’t want to, he’s happy to.
    •How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” We eat out 1-2 x a week, but not from desperation/fatigue/boredom. We enjoy eating out.
    •About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? For 2 adults and one toddler, average is about $50. We don’t do chain places (highly processed, frozen and reheated, no thanks!). We prefer to support (and explore!) locally owned places.
    •What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?
    We don’t see eating out as a “resort”. We’re City dwellers blessed with a wide variety of ethnicities and cooking styles in our town. We love food – healthy, well prepared, food of course. But we also love exploring different cultures and traditions through food. We also have the financial freedom to support local business owners. And because we have “two under age two” we see eating out as a great opportunity to teach our children table manners and social interaction skills.

    [Reply]

  28. Kristin says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? Between 15min to an hour.
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” Usually one or two depending on how rushed we are or how the little ones are acting.
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? We almost never go out. Maybe twice a month we get fast food take out. It costs between $30-40 for 6 of us.
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? Probably freezer meals or frozen casseroles that just needed to go in the oven and required no work. Things like chicken nuggets and tator tot casserole work well for those nights!

    [Reply]

  29. Karen says

    1. About an hour per night.
    2. About once a week
    3. Maybe once a month
    4. $30+ just for “fast” food – ugh!
    5. I would love some 10-minute or less meals that I can throw something together from staples on hand that would be ready within 30 minutes. This would be helpful after coming home at 6 p.m. and not having even any meat thawed! Maybe this only happens to me. :/
    ~~Laura, I’m excited to read what you come up for all of us! :)

    [Reply]

  30. Joy says

    I can spend anywhere from 20-40 mins. preparing a meal. I do weekly meal plans, which helps a lot because even if I don’t really feel like cooking, I know I will just waste food if I don’t. There is usually meat thawing or beans soaking or veggies purchased for that meal that will go bad if I don’t use them on the scheduled day and I HATE to throw away food. About every couple of months I will hit a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. That is when I usually give in and we go out to eat. Usually I am sorry afterward, though, because our family can’t get by without spending $60 (5 guys,panera) to over $100 at a restaurant. Not only do I hate to spend money on food that I could prepare so much less expensively at home, but I also usually end up feeling yucky afterward. So, any quick, easy meal ideas using real foods are helpful! The other day I wasn’t feeling well, and was ready to pack the family up and get something at Panera (I LOVE their new broth bowls!) But I started to think: broth, noodles, slightly cooked veggies and some crusty bread – I can do this! So I pulled out some broth from the freezer (flavored it with NON-GMO soy sauce!) and got it simmering, boiled some whole wheat noodles, and stir-fried a few veggies from fridge (and a separate bowl of peas from the freezer). I also had a little pre-cooked meat that we could use as “garnish”. I put the pot of broth in the middle of the table and all the sides around it and let everyone make their own soup and toast.. The kids loved it, and called it “personalized soup”. So I know with a little effort a lot of money can be saved by doing it at home. I just have to give myself a pep talk on “those days”. (-:) The other temptation for eating out is when we travel, but you’ve already given LOTS of ideas for portable foods – thanks! The last time we traveled we only purchased one meal out and otherwise lived on bagels, fruit, veggies, cheese and crackers, etc. from the car.

    [Reply]

  31. Jennifer says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? 30 minutes to an hour.
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” On nights our teenagers have games, unless they are home games then I try to crockpot it. So typically 2 nights.
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” Once a week- usually after church on Sundays.
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? $50-$75 sit down restaurant. $20-$30 fast food
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? Pork and Beef due to buying sides. Crockpot ideas.

    [Reply]

  32. Denise says

    I spend 1-2 hours each night cooking, mostly because 2 of us eat paleo and the others eat gluten free . That sometimes means 2 separate dishes. I always make enough for leftovers for lunch the following day.

    I don’t usually mind cooking if I already have it planned (try to plan a week ahead) and am home in the late afternoon to fix it.

    We never eat out as an option to not fixing supper. When we do eat out, it’s because we aren’t around home to eat… even on vacation I fix most of our meals if we have a kitchen. When we do eat out, it costs us $50 for something like Panera Bread or $75+ for a non-fast food place.

    [Reply]

  33. says

    I spend 20-40 min with dinner prep throughout the day. Once in a while I’ll make something that takes longer, but on the weekends when my husband is home to keep the kids who aren’t helping busy. :)

    I love to cook, so I usually only feel like this when sick or extremely tired. Those days I love my ceockpot! (And having a 13 year old who can cook and enjoys it!)

    We live way out in the country, so just dropping everything to load up and eat out isn’t really feasible. We even have to drive to meet for pizza delivery…eating out is reserved for our shopping day in town (and we usually get the $5 pizzas from Little Caesers because it’s cheapest to feed our family of 9. Or hot dogs from Costco…) if we do other fast food, it’s about $40, and I have no idea what a sit down nice place would be. I’m guessing $100+.

    Oh I almost forgot, my husband brings home burgers and fries for him and I to have a date night once a month, but I still cook that night for the kids.

    Easy meals that are flexible are great. Crockpot recipes are even better! Especially ones that take at least 8 hours, so it can be set in the morning and not at noon to be ready for dinner.

    [Reply]

  34. Rochelle P. says

    I usually spend 30 minutes to an hour preparing dinner. I don’t want to cook maybe 2 nights….the cooking is not so bad as the cleaning up….. We hardly ever eat out during the week….we save that for the weekends. Usually eat out two nights a week. It costs anywhere from $20 to $50 for a family of four. Ridiculous!!! Think of all the groceries I could buy with that money…..As for the last question, I have had this conversation with my husband. I would love to have recipes that we love so much that we look forward to staying home and eating:o) My kids will not eat anything that is mixed together like casseroles, soups, etc. Frustrating….I usually end up feeding them a deconstructed version of what we are having.

    [Reply]

  35. Megan H. says

    -How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening – 1-2 hrs
    -How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” – 2, I don’t like to cook on the weekend. We usually rely on leftovers.
    -How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” – 1-2 times/month, usually due to an unexpected schedule change or illness.
    -About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? $15 – $30 depending on where we go and hunger levels
    -What kinds of recipes would help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? 15 min meals that don’t require pre-planning (thawing meat) and are low-grain. This is really tough for us as we live in a small, urban apartment. Freezer meals are not an option as we have very little freezer space. And most of our eating out is last minute anyway. That makes the typical crockpot/freezer meal solution a no-go. We also eat a low-grain, gluten-free diet, which excludes the pasta & rice based pantry meals. Any ideas?

    [Reply]

  36. joanie elbourn says

    We have been married 27 yrs and have had children for 25 of those years. Only once have we gone out as a family .. to eat. And we do not do take out . I have cooked nearly every meal in those 28 years. I find restaurant food very unhealthy, expensive and, having worked in a few restaurants in my 52 yrs, scary – often dirty etc..
    We do not eat processed food, and raise most of our fruit sand veggies, and I do not cook fancy- I can, but we just eat good, real food, so its easy to make. I spend about 45 min a night cooking dinner.. to us food is fuel, nice that God made it so tasty, but eating is not an major event in our lives.

    [Reply]

  37. says

    I almost never go out to eat (a few times a year). Much of this has to do with finances and food allergies (nightshade and soy). So, a couple of times a year we will go out to the local pizza place where we can get great pizza on a soy-free crust and with alfredo sauce that no one reacts to ($30/5 people). I spend 15 min to 1 hour making dinner each night…depends on the night and how much prep has already been done. I keep lots of prepped foods in the freezer so meals can be made quickly and easily. Having a menu plan helps so much…I just finished planning for 4 weeks and I think this will also greatly help. We also have a few quick and easy meals for when that is necessary (eggs, oven puff pancakes, organic mac & cheese with tuna). My biggest challenge is finding lower carb options that are also nightshade free (so many bean meals include tomatoes and peppers!) Also, we don’t eat pork. so variety is a bit lacking at our house!

    [Reply]

  38. Niki L S says

    * How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? WE EAT A LOT OF LEFTOVERS THROUGH THE WEEK BUT WHEN I DO COOK M-F, I USUALLY TRY TO TAKE NO LONGER THAN 30-45 MINUTES. OTHERWISE I TRY TO MAKE BIG MEALS ON THE WEEKENDS OR AN EXTRA MEAL TO KEEP IT EASY
    * How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” 5 :-)
    * How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” IN AN ENTIRE MONTH, MAYBE TWICE
    * About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? IT’S ONLY ME AND MY HUSBAND; BUT, USUALLY NO MORE THAN $40
    * What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? HEALTHY (LOW FAT/CAL) CASSEROLES THAT CAN BE FROZEN. I ALSO LIKE MEALS THAT ARE THROWN IN ONE DISH OR POT AND COOKED UP. I ALSO LIKE CROCK POT MEALS BUT I’M AWAY FROM THE HOUSE 10 HRS STRAIGHT SO UNLESS I CAN RUN HOME AT LUNCH TO DO IT, IT’S NOT A GOOD CHOICE.

    [Reply]

  39. Julie says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?
    Between 20-50 minutes depending on what it is, and how much “help” I get from my kidos.

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”
    Maybe just Sunday nights (Sundays can really wear a girl out!)

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”
    Maybe once every month or two. But there was a four year period when I was in a pregnant/breastfeeding/pregnant and chasing a toddler/breastfeeding and chasing a toddler – and in those years we would go out once a week, or hubby would pick up a pre-cooked chicken from the deli. I was hungry and tired, and just surviving. (And now that I have my energy back again, it feels *so* good to be ME again!)

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?
    About $30 –

    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?
    Usually we go out to the Asian Buffet because it’s the sort of stuff we don’t get at home. Hubby likes this red chicken thingy that is cooked on skewers. I like the sushi. The kids eat everything (and ice cream!) I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be difficult to make Bright Red Chicken, or Sushi – – but haven’t tried.

    [Reply]

  40. Shannon says

    I usually spend around 30 minutes each night unless I managed to do some prep work before I went to work that day. I also do some make ahead stuff for the freezer. I always double a casserole recipe when I make them and freeze one. However, I don’t want to spend every weekend cooking/prepping things for the weeks meals. A girls gotta have some down time, right?

    Most nights I don’t feel like cooking. I actually like to cook, but after working all day it just seems like drudgery.

    My husband and I go out every Friday (date night), but mostly we share something, so usually we can eat for less than $25 even at a nice place. We do fast food once a week (usually pizza ) as a family. We have a Little Ceasars Pizza that we can can get a large pizza and an order of cheese bread for around $10-$12. There are only 3 of use, so we can eat out cheaper than most families. Sometimes we do Subway or other fast food if we have coupons. We are lucky in that our church serves dinner before Wed night service and it’s only $3/person, so that’s one night I don’t have to cook.

    I’m really not a fan of crockpot stuff. I have a few tried and true ones, but I’d rather have other cooking methods. I also prefere fresh veggies to canned or frozen. My quick, but not so cheap meal, is to grill some kind of meat, roast some fresh veggies and add some kind of bread, biscuits usually. My boys do not consider it a meal without meat and bread. They will accept soups if they are hearty ones or I serve it with sandwiches.

    [Reply]

  41. Andrea says

    1) 1 hr
    2) kids’ gym/dance practice sched and church sched are major factors, prob 3-4 nights
    3) too often (usually b/c it’s too late to start cooking!)
    4) we never eat IN, and our drive thru of choice is always Chick-fil-A, even if we share fries & drinks, it’s isually about $35 (for fam of 8)
    5) easy, quick, cheap, crockpot

    [Reply]

  42. K Sam says

    *I spend 30min to 1 hr cooking.
    *Don’t really fell like cooking 2-3 nights (mainly weekends)
    *Forget it and eat out – 2-3 nights a month (more if $$ allowed)
    *It costs $25 at chickfila/whataburger and $40-60 at a resturant.
    *I would like more throw together meals that use less dairy. Asian too. Cheese makes everything taste good but can give us the sniffles if eaten too much.

    We are in a remodel and I’m desperately trying to get some freezer meals accomplished. But I have to admit, Weekly menus has helped tremendously. My hubby doens’t get asked “What do you want to eat?” at 6pm and we have eaten great over the past 2 weeks. Thanks Laura!

    [Reply]

  43. Amy says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? Anywhere from 15-60 minutes. I try to balance it out in my meal planning and also coordinate longer prep meals on less busy days (ideally, anyway).
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” When the meals are already planned, maybe once a week.
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” Not too often – maybe once a month, unless unexpected circumstances come along. I am worse about lunch on the weekends – probably because I don’t plan it.
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? Depending on the restaurant $25-40. For our family of 5, it is a splurge that we don’t often take to eat at a sit-down restaurant.
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? Recipes with readily available ingredients on hand and quick to put together. You saved me last night with your cheesy beef and rice recipe! I didn’t have what I needed to make what was in the original plan, but I was able to throw together that simple and delicious recipe without resorting to hubby picking up something on the way home from work.

    [Reply]

  44. Karlene says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? prep time anywhere from 15-60+ minutes. Typically about 30 min.

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” probably about 1x every 2 weeks

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” maybe 1x a month-but, it’s usually order in at that point. We go out 1-2x/month anyway.

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?
    ~$50ish, as we don’t do fast food (not enough vegetarian options at fast food)

    What kinds of recipes would help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?
    Meals I can freeze the leftovers of and pull out to heat quickly. Often things don’t heat up quickly right out of the freezer-I have to plan to defrost them or have an hour or more to defrost/reheat. Personally, quick to put together meals are nice-but, you have to have the ingredients. And usually if I’m going to suggest going out or get take-in it’s because I don’t have many ingredients to work with and am too tired to run to the store and THEN cook.

    [Reply]

  45. Cathy Warren says

    Hi Laura,

    I usually spend 30-60 minutes making dinner every night. I usually don’t feel like cooking 3 nights a week Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I don’t throw my hands up and say lets go out very often anymore, my husband is on a low carb ketogenic Diet which means we don’t go out more than a couple of times a year now. But when we do go out since it’s just my husband and myself we spend anywhere from $15-$40 depending on where we go. My favorite go to meals are ones I spend very little time on and make ahead and freeze.

    [Reply]

  46. Bethany says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? An hour

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” 1-2

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” 2-3 times a month

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? $15-$40, depending on if we get fast food or go to a sit down place.

    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? Something I can have in the freezer that will defrost quickly. Usually when I realize cooking just isn’t going to happen I have about an hour. Defrosting things without a microwave usually takes longer than that!

    [Reply]

  47. Niki C says

    1. I usually spend 30-60 minutes fixing a meal, less for breakfast or lunch.

    2. A couple times a week.

    3. We never eat out, but we will pick up something premade about once a week or so.

    4. We are a family of 13, mom, dad, and 11 children ranging from 11 weeks to 18 years. So I couldn’t even begin to guess how much it would cost us to eat out. Occasionally we grab everyone a burger or two off the dollar menu somewhere, that runs around $25.

    5. I would love to have “pantry staple” recipes, freezer meal recipes, ten minute or less recipes, and recipes the kids can fix for nights when I am gone for a medical emergency with my son.

    [Reply]

  48. Kelly says

    Dinner in the evenings usually takes me around an hour, sometimes more/less depending on whether it was a slow cooker or leftover day. I probably don’t feel like cooking one to two nights a week, but we usually end up with leftovers or super easy things on those nights. I am also very blessed with a hubby who enjoys cooking and steps in when I just can’t do any more (I homeschool our 4 and 2 yo and am 7 mos pregnant with #3)! I rarely ever just throw my hands in the air since I meal plan and I like to follow the book! When we do go out , we usually spend around $25 for lunch and $40 for dinner (since we still have littles we like to keep it casual and cheap!). We have loved the recipes from your site a lot as we find they are simple and fairly basic, which fits our family. I am currently working my way through your 40 seasonal meal plan e-book and have been very happy so far!

    [Reply]

  49. Kristin says

    I usually spend 30-80 minutes cooking dinner each night.

    1-2 nights I do not feel like cooking, usually because I am short on time.

    I never throw up my hands and go out for dinner, I merely make something simple like spaghetti with jarred marinara, grilled cheese or pita bread and humus, with a side of cut up veggies and fruit instead.

    When we intentionally go out to eat for pleasure a few times a year, we spend $30-50.

    [Reply]

  50. Karen says

    •How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? – about an hour
    •How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” – 2 or so
    •How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” – lately, never. However, my hubby and I have a date night each week, so we eat out at a local restaurant. Most of the time we get the kids pizza from a local pizza parlor ~ $ 30.
    •About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? – If we all go together – $60 or more. We don’t eat at fast food places (McDonalds, etc. and IF we eat out, we eat at local places)
    •What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? We eat healthy, mostly gluten free, trying to lose weight. We like Mexican dishes :) We are a large family of 8 with 3 adults, 2 teenage boys and 3 “littles”.

    [Reply]

  51. Elizabeth B says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? -Anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” -I always love to cook, I just don’t like the chaos and stress and frustration I have when trying to prepare with 3 little ones running around. I often forget ingredients, or mis-measure, or skip a step because I can be so preoccupied!
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” -I want to say it more than I actually do, but maybe once or twice. It depends on how well I planned that meal ahead of time and how stressed I am. :)
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? Anywhere from $15-$50 for 5 people.
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? -I’m really not sure. Freezer meals are nice, but often not tasty for my kids for some reason. Quick, little prep, tasty, and real food would be good. :) It’s hard to have “quick” and “real food” ingredients in the same meal unless it’s mostly raw, which doesn’t always fly in our family. So glad you’re working on this!!!!

    [Reply]

  52. AJ says

    I spend about 30-45 minutes cooking, give or take.

    I don’t like cooking much, but for some inexplicable reason, I’m really good at it. So we mostly eat home cooked, healthy meals.

    Maybe one night every other week do I throw in the towel (a little more frequently right now, since I just gave birth to my fifth baby two weeks ago. )

    We spend over 80 for a sit down restaurant, over 40 for fast casual, like Chipotle or Panera.

    Unlike most of the other commenters, it seems, money is not an issue for us, so my concern is more health-focused (though Chipotle is not a terrible option), and just wanting to be a good steward of our finances. How much more would we have to give to others if my food budget were lower?!

    I think quick meal ideas would be a help (though you have many on this blog already!), and suggestions for prepping ahead and freezing those prepped items for when we need them.

    [Reply]

  53. Olivia G. says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?- 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”- I think the dishes and after mess are more frustrating to me than the cooking! Also, if the kids are fussy it isn’t fun to do lengthy recipes.
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.”- Not very, But we do travel a lot and when we travel we eat out, rarely do I do very good at bringing food on the road that is healthy.
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? $10-$30 for family of 4.
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?- Easy meals with little clean up… lol. I like freezer meals and planning ahead, that helps.

    [Reply]

  54. Brandy Fisk says

    30 mins-1 hour. We eat out on the weekends when my husband is home and spend around $30 for a family of 4. I feel like we eat the same stuff all the time so, I get bored cooking. I cook at least 6 days a week. I feel like not cooking about 2 or 3. Recipes the whole family would eat.

    [Reply]

  55. Shelley says

    1. It depends on the meal. Usually about an hour though.
    2. That usually only happens on Saturdays and Sundays when we are running around.
    3. Even though I sometimes don’t feel like cooking I almost always talk myself out of it because I don’t want to eat toxic food from restaurants, and I know it will bother my sensitive digestive system.
    4. On the VERY rare occasion that we have gone to a restaurant, it has been about $6-8 per meal.
    5. Meals that can be made ahead and frozen to take out when needed, or slow cooker meals that can be ready when you get home from a long day out of the house.

    [Reply]

  56. Shelby says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? 30-60 min not including any prepping ahead I have done
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” hmmm…not an option. We have to eat, right? But teenagers and husband can help if I really don’t want to. “Leftovers” can and should be eaten, so we do that as well.
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” Never. We will eat out as a family on Sundays and my husband likes to eat out on date night, but we don’t go out just to avoid the kitchen (anymore ;)
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? $40-$50 if all 4 kids are with us. We usually order water to drink but I try not to skimp on the tip. We don’t go to expensive places, but $7/plate is the norm for not-fast-food.
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? I love all your tips about prepping ahead the best. I don’t have a lot of luck with actual meals put in the freezer (except lasagna), but having meatballs, browned ground beef or sausage, and shredded chicken in my freezer helps me to throw together a meal quite quickly. I will also freeze leftovers such as muffins, waffles, and soup for use later in the week/month.
    I look forward to seeing what you put together for us. It’s always good stuff!

    [Reply]

  57. Meg says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? typically 30 minutes to 1 hour

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” at least 2

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” We order out pizza once a week so I try not to eat out any more than that. It occasionally happens though.

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? $30-50

    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? Very quick, one pot, pantry basics type

    My biggest challenge is on Sundays. Our church schedule makes it difficult!

    [Reply]

  58. Heather says

    I can only spent 30 minutes on average cooking. Between all the schedules that’s all the time I have. How often do I give up? Too much. My kids are tired of pizza. Except my homemade which I font often have time to make. We sometimes just eat sandwiches or ring bologna and fruit. I love planned over meals. Like every time I make spaghetti the next night we have spaghetti pie. I try to cook a big old meal on Sunday do we can have leftovers and planned overs. But that doesn’t always work out. We spend $45 plus for 6 people to go out to eat. my husband likes to go out to eat So we always will but I would like to go because we want to..not because I can’t get a meal together

    [Reply]

  59. Karen says

    1. 30 minutes to an hour. All our kids are big enough to be helpful in the kitchen. When they were little I would often prep items at night after they had gone to bed.

    2-3. Not usually. I have a very flexible family and husband. If the plan falls apart, they would rather have deli meat sandwiches or scrambled eggs than eat out.

    4. We budget to eat out approximately 2-3 times per month. Around $30-$50 for our family of 6. We try to eat in local “not-chain” places. We have a few in our small town. The food is actually made there, from local sources, and affordable.

    5. Recipes where I cook once (have lots of dirty dishes once=) but then use it for several meal variations. Freezer space can be hard to come by at different times of the year. So it is helpful to make something big on Sunday or Monday to keep in the fridge that I can remake into other dishes as the week goes on.

    [Reply]

  60. Stephanie says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? One to two hours
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” Most of them
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” Are you kidding? That’s costs too much money. So…never.
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? Depending on the restaurant, $45-$100 (or more) for nine. (Which includes four teens.) See why we never eat out?
    What kinds of recipes would help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? Crockpot recipes, casseroles, and soups/stews

    [Reply]

  61. Birdie says

    Cooking time – 30 min. to 1 1/2 hr.

    “Not feel like cooking” – once a week. Goes away when I hear how much they like mom’s cooking, 8-). That day is “help yourself” day.

    Hands up/throw towel in – once a month

    Cost per meal (once a month outing) – fast food (rarely), sub place (usually) – 4.99 – 7.00/person
    – Chinese smorg – 9.95/person (cheapest we can find)

    Recipes – anything that has “food” in it, hee hee! Seriously, anything that can easily be doubled or tripled.

    [Reply]

  62. Emily says

    Great topic! I would say I spend 30 min-1hr most nights, and have learned to plan longer recipes for weekends when I can be more relaxed and hubby is home to be paying attention to the needs of the kiddos. I really enjoy cooking, but the times I don’t want to are when the kitchen is already a mess :-( it really is the cleaning part that I don’t like. I very rarely give up and go out anymore because I’ve gotten really good about meal planning (not just actually planning, but planning “smart” paying attention to what else I have going on to match meals with more/less prep time to the right days!). It really varies the cost when eating out, depending on the occasion, but I’d guess $30-40 for our family of 4 (youngest is only 18 months so he’s pretty cheap still!). I think most helpful is like someone else mentioned, minimal mess recipes- ones with little cleanup and that dirty the least dishes! Also recipes with not as much “hands on” time for the times when the kiddos just really need my attention. I enjoy your posts, thank you for sharing so much of your life with all of us!

    [Reply]

  63. Arbrown says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?any where from 30-2+ hours(usually holiday dinners are the longest in terms of time). With 3 teens in the house it helps since they can help with prep.Plus my middle son is a budding chef so we are also on the look out for recipes that he can have for his cooking night. It must be easy and quick- gotta love pinterest and allrecipes.com for those helpful recipes
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” usually just 1-2 night. Generally on those nights ( which are Fridays and Saturday). I try to plan something that everyone can make for themselves or1 pot meal like soup. I love those fix and forget things like meat loaf or roast for Sundays.
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” none unless we having been running all day and have nothing quick and easy to fix. generally I have canned soup and lunch meat on hand or eggs for omelets. I try to have a stocked pantry on the off chance for those days when I know when we will be running a lot. Or I have to change the menu at the drop of a hat.
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? anywhere from $25-100+ (more expensive places are saved for special occasions) 3 teens and 2 adults means we all eat from the adult menu now:)
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? Easy prep and fix types. Since I have kiddos and a hubby with food issues those recipes that are basic and can be customizable would be a huge blessing.

    [Reply]

  64. Amanda says

    Sure :)

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? Usually 30 min – an hour. The clean up always seems to be a full 30 minutes, too.

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” That’s not really the problem for me…maybe twice a month? The problem is not having a plan and having to do the cooking at a time of day when there are crying children everywhere (it seems).

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” It got as bad as once a week for a while, but I’d say it’s 1-2 times a month now. We don’t go out though; that sounds even more unpleasant with small children to me. We get a take-n-bake pizza or two, or we throw snacky things at the kids until they’re full and get take out for the two of us after they go to bed.

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? Take n bake pizza: $12. Take our for us: $12-30. If we all went to a restaurant: I shudder to think…a lot.

    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? Ones I could make if I didn’t plan anything until 5:00, because I’m lame like that sometimes.

    [Reply]

    Jenn S. Reply:

    Your answers were the most similar to what I’m going to say and I felt better knowing I’m not the only one. ;)

    1. 30min-1 hour
    2. About 2 per week
    3. Probably twice a month – then we order pizza
    4. We eat out at chains (no creativity in this!) Red Robin, Village Inn, Chilis . . . $40-50 with tip for 4 of us.
    5. Amanda took the words out of my mouth on this one. I LOVE several of Laura’s recipes, like Creamy Italian Chicken (Crock pot) and Baked Potatoes in the crock pot. But many times it’s 4:30 and then I start thinking about what to make.

    THANK YOU for working on this Laura! Can’t wait to see your results. :)

    [Reply]

  65. Marty B says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? I spend 30 minutes to an hour most nights. How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” I hate how many nights I don’t feel like cooking but do it anyway. I think I only feel like cooking one or two nights a week in reality. How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” Not nearly as much as I used to. We discovered that my husband is allergic to both dairy and soy so eating out is really hard for us now. What I have done to combat that is make sure there are lots of made ahead items in the freezer for quick dinners that don’t require much work from me. About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? There are only three of us so anywhere from $25-$50 because we don’t go to really expensive places and our son is 6 so don’t eat to much yet. What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? I love recipes that I can make once and freeze some for another meal another day. I also love that your recipes don’t use processed food because not only do I not want to eat them but my husband is usually allergic.

    [Reply]

  66. Amanda says

    I spend about 1 hour cooking dinner most nights.
    Clean up is another hour!
    I don’t feel like cooking about 3 nights per week.
    It’s about 60 to 80 dollars to go out to eat :( and we do that once a week.
    I like recipes that are easy one pot meals. Healthy crockpot recipes are always good!

    [Reply]

  67. Erin says

    1. 30 mins – 1h15min
    2. 3-4 nights
    3. 2 nights on a good week, 3 on a bad – often due to Scout meetings or dance class that go right up to dinner time
    4. $25 for fast food, $35 for semi-sit down, $50 for real sit down
    5. Recipes that can be ready at night in very little time, either b/c they are cooked all day (started in morning) or reheated freezer meals…

    No judgement! :/

    [Reply]

  68. Stephanie says

    -How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? Usually around an hour.
    -How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” Probably 2 or 3.
    -How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” Used to be about once a week. But we’ve been more strict with our budget this year and it’s maybe once every 2 or 3 weeks now.
    -About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? Usually between $20 and $30 for a family of 4
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? Really delicious ones ;) I would love to do more freezer meals, and crock pot meals are great. I really love a great healthy meal with lots of veggies…the prep always seems to take so long.

    [Reply]

  69. Lari says

    How long do I spend cooking? I try to allot an hour a day. If I’m doing something fancy, maybe more.

    I live 20 min from the nearest grocery store or restraunt, so I’m pretty well stocked on all the essentials. Going out to eat isn’t an option unless we are out running errands. I don’t even like to plan my menus ahead of time. I always know that I’ll have what ever I need to make whatever I feel like cooking. Nope evening meals are not my weak spot– it’s hubby’s lunches that are. He eats out almost every noon because he needs to get out of his office anyway and I never know what to pack for his lunch. (I feel rather guilty about this- like I’m failing him as a wife) On my errand days in town I usually bring him sandwiches and we eat together. (Totally the easiest option with 3 preschoolers.)

    [Reply]

  70. says

    Thank you for working on this! With a diabetic spark plug who also has Celiac disease and the accompanying digestive issues, I’m cooking 3 meals a day, not including snacks. I also have a condition where, if I’m on my feet too long, I develop kidney infections, so I have to be VERY careful to balance my time in the kitchen with time to put up my feet. It usually takes me 15-30 minutes to prepare breakfast and lunch and 30-45 minutes to prepare dinner. I’m often tired, burned out, and frustrated at my lack of cooking skills, lack of fortitude, and lack of variety due to my little one’s dietary restrictions. Since we try not to keep high-starch, pre-packaged, or gluten-containing foods on hand, going out is extremely tempting (and I just try not to think about the high-starch, gluten-contaminated issues…can we say burying my head in the sand much?). My biggest need is for tasty recipes that focus on steamed, low-starch veggies with a side of meat, since this is what works best for my kiddo’s dietary, digestive, and diabetic needs.

    [Reply]

  71. Melissa Bohnke says

    1. 30 mins- 1 1/2 hrs.
    2. Probably 2 evenings a week.
    3. Once a week
    4. $20-$30 for family of 4
    5. Crockpot type meals would be great….lots of veggies…don’t mind prepping veggies…..if a meat is used….something that can be used in multiple meals like a roasted turkey….This week was Turkey week.

    [Reply]

  72. De says

    I cook most nights. Whether I’m using my crockpot freezer meals or something fresh, it always takes at least 30-45 minutes. Then the clean up takes another 30-45 minutes. There are nights I don’t have that much energy or time due to working two jobs! So, we eat out 2-3 times a month. That’s not much, but when you are paying $30-40 each time, it adds up. And when you figure, you don’t really know what’s in it-it gets to be too much. I’d love recipes I could pull out of the pantry or freezer and prepare quickly and cheaply.

    [Reply]

  73. Rose Smedley says

    •How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? I usually spend anywhere from 30 min. to 1.5 hours.
    •How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” I actually love to cook most of the time, so I’m going to say one night per week.
    •How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” I personally have no problem with cooking , since cooking is something that I really enjoy doing, my answer would be……. rarely do I do this.
    •About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant?
    We usually spend about $30.00 to $40.00 dollars for a family of 4.
    •What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?
    I would love more make ahead mixes to have on hand for a quick meal…..WE love your ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning mix . I would also love make ahead freezer meal recipes.

    [Reply]

  74. SC Susie says

    1) It usually takes 45 min to an hour to get dinner on the table.
    2) I work full time and have 2 active teens so there are several nights a week I don’t “feel” like cooking. We usually end up eating at home most nights though, especially week nights.
    3) I usually throw my hands up and just go out, unscheduled, about twice per month. We do budget and plan for one night out per week with friends – typically on Friday or Sat night or maybe Sunday lunch.
    4) I budget $40 for 2 adults and 2 teens. We drink water and try to use coupons when available.
    5) I would like some “under 20 minute to the table” dinner ideas. Homemade Sloppy Joes and Spaghetti & Meatballs are my go-to meals but would love some other ideas.

    [Reply]

  75. Valerie says

    On weeknights, I use recipes that can be put together and on the table within 30-45 minutes. On weekends, I use recipes that take longer.
    3
    We live a half an hour from town, so there isn’t an option for going out once we are home from school and work.
    Fast food – $25 Sit down restaurant -$50 – $60
    Anything that tastes good and can be put together fairly quickly and easily.

    [Reply]

  76. Suzie says

    It takes about an hour most nights, but I tend to throw things in the oven and do other stuff while it cooks. About 2-3 nights a week, I don’t feel like cooking. Monday’s are my night off most weeks. I make beans in the crock pot. No fuss, no muss. I keep some frozen dinners, both homemade and store bought to avoid restaurant outings. We eat out 1-2x a month, when the craving hits. It runs the five of us between $30 and $70, depending on where we go.

    [Reply]

  77. Donna Peters says

    1. It takes about an hour to hour and a half to cook dinner. I have to add that this is the most stressful time of the day for me.
    2. About 4-5 days a week.
    3. I do this just about every day. I can’t stand going to the grocery store because I have coupons and I just don’t get organized to take them. Than I feel bad about spending all the money that I could of saved with coupons. I do feel very unorganized!!!
    4. We spend between $50 – $100+ more on the high side.
    5. I am desperate!!! We will eat chicken, turkey and fish on a regular basis. We will eat red meat every once in a while. I will try whatever recipes you put together!!!
    Thank you so much Laura and God Bless you and your family!!!

    [Reply]

  78. Cassie says

    Well, with church meetings, basketball and baseball practice, etc, my meal planning is hit and miss most of the times. My two kids are picky eaters (throw up if a green bean touches their tongue kind of picky eaters) so my options are limited. We are at least a little bit past that. If I really have the time, I will sit down on Sunday afternoon and plan out a few meals. Hubby will help if the recipe is easy-peasy.

    We can eat out from $40 to $60 depending on where we pick. Usually eat out at least once during the week and maybe once on the weekend.

    I hate to tell you what I spend on food at the grocery store because I don’t do very well in that department. I am trying to have more fruit available for snacks. Peanut allergy for one son makes it hard to grab and go for quick snacks. Apples and clementines are popular right now.

    Love your recipes and use them often!!

    [Reply]

  79. Angel says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening?- 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?”- Almost every night. Dinner meals are my constant angst.I literally DREAD dinnertime. I am tired of what I know how to throw on the table i.e. spaghetti. I am not creative and I don’t like eating. I could eat PB and J or cereal for the rest of my life if it was just me. I am not a foodie. I eat because I have to, not because I want to. Sad, I know. :/
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say “Forget it, let’s eat out.” Once or twice a week.
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? $40.00-$100.00 per meal depending on where we eat.( $100 being on a rare special dinner at a restaurant like Red Lobster)
    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?- One dish recipes and meals that have NO RECIPES like meat, potatoes and a veggie.

    [Reply]

    Angel Reply:

    I forgot to mention that we are a family of 6-2 adults and 4 under 12. Also, we budget 200.00 a week for groceries.

    [Reply]

  80. Melissa B. says

    Hi Laura! We are a family of 5 – currently, technically, only 4 eaters, as my 8 month old doesn’t eat a whole lot (though we are doing baby led weaning with her, and she generally eats some of what we are having). Here are the answers to your questions:

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? 30 minutes – 1 hour

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” once or twice. though if i’m honest, i’d say that if i had a cook, i wouldn’t complain! ;)

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” once every couple of weeks. that’s when we actually DO eat out….. i FEEL that way at least 2x/week. but our options are ordering pizza (which i don’t personally care for) or getting all 3 kids ready for a restaurant…and i generally will find something to throw together instead of participating in that circus. :) so, every other week or so…pizza it is. sometimes, i’ve failed to plan well enough in advance and we end up eating out for sunday lunch.

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? our kids are small, so we usually spend around $35 if we do go to a restaurant.

    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? things that can be thrown together from pantry staples (which you already do a really good job of this). or things that can be thrown together without much prep. maybe even “weird” meals that most people don’t think of — something like breakfast for supper or….???

    [Reply]

  81. Colleen says

    Laura,
    I just want to say thank you for all you do. My family has been enjoying more than just cereal thanks to you…they love cake for breakfast :) We also have been better about fruits and veggies throughout the day, again thanks to you!

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? Minimum of 1 hour. For some reason I’m usually in the kitchen double the time a recipe states it will take to complete.

    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” Most, but I love good food so I cook.

    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” We live in a very rural area, there are not many options so on a good week none, bad week 2-3.

    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? $40-100. $40 is what it costs to eat at the local burger joint ( I did say we are pretty rural, right?) The more expensive meals are typically planned, only a few a year.

    What kinds of recipes would be help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out?
    Something that does not require me to be in the kitchen for hours. We try to eat real food, but sometimes the preparations are so time consuming. Since I don’t (usually) buy boxed items I often feel that nothing is quick. We really don’t like casseroles, or crockpot food but we are open to other real food choices.

    [Reply]

  82. erika says

    How long do you spend cooking dinner each evening? 1/2 hr – 45 minutes
    How many nights per week do you “not feel like cooking?” 7
    How often do you throw your hands in the air and say, “Forget it. Let’s go out.” never
    About how much money do you spend for your family to eat a meal at a restaurant? We don’t as there are 9 of us (4 are teenagers!) and full time ministry doesn’t pay enough for that to be an option! Before health concerns caused some of the family to have to eat gluten free, it would cost us about$30 for pizza which we would do occasionally.
    What kinds of recipes would help you eat at home more instead of resorting to going out? Crockpot recipes are the best. Supper falls at such an inconvenient time of day!

    [Reply]

  83. Lee Ann says

    I’m very late to the game, but here’s my 2-cents:
    How long do I spend cooking each night? 30 min. to 1 hour
    How many nights do I not feel like cooking? 3
    How often do you say “let’s go out to eat”? 1-2 (depends on what activities are going on)
    How much do we spend for the family to eat dinner out? $20 – $50
    What kinds of recipes would help so we don’t need to resort to restaurants? Crockpot meals, meals with a minimum of ingredients (like your 5 ingredient recipes) that can be put together quickly.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *