My Favorite Money Saving Tip – Learn to Cook

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The following is a throwback blog swap post from Joe at Retire By 40, where he writes about his journey to early retirement and other fun stuff along the way!

My favorite money saving tip is to learn to cook. Food takes up a huge chunk of everyone’s budget and the easiest way to reduce that expenditure is to cook at home. I came home today to find Mrs. RB40 stabbing a potato while complaining  that a baked potato costs 6 bucks at the cafeteria! $6 for a baked potato? That’s ridiculous. It’s a good thing she knows how to make a great baked potato.

I was lucky that I learned to cook in my parents’ small Thai Restaurant. Well, to tell the truth it sucked to be working at the restaurant when I was in high school, but I picked up an invaluable skill set. I can cut up and disjoint a whole chicken into bite-sized pieces. I can prep vegetables quickly. I can make many Thai dishes like chicken curry, pineapple fried rice, Thai beef salad, and other dishes they don’t even serve in restaurants.  Once you get a few basic things down, you can cook many more dishes from recipes. I started off cooking Thai food and then gradually expanded to other cuisines. Now I can make great bleu cheese burgers, steamed mussels, pizza and more. I still hate washing dishes though, it’s a good thing I have a wife.

Learning to cook is not easy, but anyone can do it. You just have to cook frequently enough so you get the hang of the basics. You can start by cooking a few times a week and gradually your dinner will get better and better. These days, it’s easy to get recipes for anything that you like from the internet, so give them a try.

Cooking at home is also a lot better for your health. Do you notice any problems when you go out to eat? The portions are huge.  I’m a bit of a pig and if you put a big plate of Macaroni Grill’s Chicken Scaloppini  in front of me, I would eat as much as I can. At home, I can control the portion size much better and it makes a big difference. Restaurant dishes are also high in sodium and fat. That’s why restaurant food tastes so good. Salt and butter make everything better. I love going out to eat as much as anyone, but as I get older, I am more conscious about what I put into my body.

I’ll make a prediction and say 90% of us will have to modify our diet for health reasons at some point. Last year, I had a bit of problem with my inner ears and the nutritionist put me on a small meal plan to keep the sodium level steady. I now eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day and it would have been a huge adjustment if I ate out every day. However, since we mostly cook at home, it was pretty easy to pack smaller meals. We just had to buy a few more small Tupperware containers.  It is so much easier to modify your diet if you cook at home.

Cooking at home is my best saving tip. What do you think? Do you cook at home or do you think eating out is worth it? Do you have any experience with diet modification and how do you deal with it? 

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Money

LaTia Longuemire

AUTHOR LaTia Longuemire

My name is LaTia Longuemire. I enjoy writing, singing, and cooking in my spare time. My passion is helping others. At this stage in my lifetime, I'm primarily focused on my children. They are everything that keeps my world spinning.

21 Comments

  1. Cooking can also be a great way to relieve stress. Trying out different cuisines can be a fascinating adventure, not to mention you save quite a bit in the process!
    MoneyCone recently posted..Never Pay Full Price

  2. I love to learn new recipes when I have the time! I’ve really fallen back on quick and easy staples because I work long hours and don’t want to be spending too much time in the kitchen once I get home. But burgers, tacos, grilled chicken (thank you foreman grill!) and beans and rice are not only yummy, but easy to make and pretty easy to clean up after!
    Mercedes recently posted..February Challenge

  3. I absolutely agree with you. This is a great tip! (I wish I had the training you had, then I wouldn’t have to order Thai takeout!)

    Once a month I cook up several meals while my husband watches the kids. Then I put them in the freezer and pull them out for dinner every night. With three kids, dinner time is crazy around here. I know without those freezer meals, we would order take out way to often.
    Melissa recently posted..Tweet This &8211 Twitter for Business Giveaway

  4. @MoneyCone – Definitely! I cook a few times a week and it’s a great decompressor right after work.

    @Melissa – With 3 kids, it must be very hectic. We cook just a bit extra so we can brown bag the left over. If we have 3 kids, we definitely need to plan ahead more.
    retirebyforty recently posted..Pay Off Your Debts Early

  5. We cook at home at least 5 times a week. Friday is our usual eat out day as both my wife and I are tired at the end of the work week. I am grateful my mom taught me how to cook, do laundry, iron clothes, etc. when I was young so I don’t have to pay for these services which add up. I also try to make extra for dinner and take the left overs to work the next day which also helps cut costs for lunches.

    P.S. – Thai food is one of my favorites!

  6. I love to cook. I only wish I had more that hubby to eat it with me. I do still make bread – Artisan and regular. Today I made sour cream bread – which is our favorite to use for french toast!

  7. I eat food from home almost every meal, but once or twice a week, my girlfriend and I will get Chipotle. We’ve tried making it at home a few times, but it’s never the same. ~$25 a month is worth it for us!

  8. Definitely, learning to cook has saved us a ton of money! I cook almost everything from scratch, which is healthier and cheaper. Plus, I can add extra nutrition for my kids, like adding spinach to smoothies (you can’t taste it!), squash to mac & cheese, and tons of veggies to spaghetti sauce and chili where they’re not easily detected. It’s not so hard to cook and lots of fun to experiment with new flavors.

  9. @IPA – We are usually too tired to go out on Friday. By the time we get home, we just want to hunker down. We usually go out sometime over the weekend. 🙂

    @Jason – We go out once or twice a week as well.

    @penny – The health aspect is huge. You’ll save so much money on health care in the long run. At least that what I’d like to think. Great idea on adding spinach!
    retirebyforty recently posted..Pay Off Your Debts Early

  10. Learning how to cook (and how to shop for your food) can really make all the difference in your budget. Some people may be aware that at our site my wife and I are trying to live off of only food that is already in our apartment for a month. We started this as a direct result of finding out just how much money we were wasting on $8.00 lunches with co-workers and dinners out on the weekends. Great tip.

  11. Only food that is already in your apartment for a whole month? That’s pretty incredible. You guys are ready for a zombie apocalypse. 🙂
    retirebyforty recently posted..Pay Off Your Debts Early

  12. Cooking at home is not only frugal, but therapeutic and fun. Upside to having worked in restaurant kichens: basic kitchen skills. The downside: knowing how and where your food is prepared.
    101 Centavos recently posted..Career Tip 2 – Be Polite

  13. I think that it’s not only a great way to save, cooking is a relaxing activity that can be done while sharing quality time with your loved ones…
    It’s funny I came to this post today. Yesterday, I decided I wanted to have home made burgers… I went to the supermarket and bought everything I would need. We cooked and 4 people ate. The bill: the same I had spent on a fast food chain earlier this week for one burger. Good savings, better food, great times!!!
    Finanzas Personales recently posted..Diversificación – una estrategia de protección

  14. Awesome tip! I need to cook more. It’s part of my resolutions… This gives me more motivation to meet it. Thanks! The Mrs. and I love Thai food. Lucky you learned your skills early and kept them. Funny how things don’t make sense when we were younger. 🙂
    Buck Inspire recently posted..Yakezie Blog Swap 2- Money Saving Tips

  15. My husband and I have made several dietary changes; we don’t use salt, we rarely have red meat….most of my main dish recipes calls for either boiled chicken meat, boneless, skinless chicken breasts ($1.99 on sale….we buy 30 lbs at a time) and ground chicken breasts (we grind our own). The recipes are so different, you don’t realize that you are eating chicken on most days. My husband loves it, I don’t mind searching for new recipes and cooking and it is healthy

  16. And now we respectfully request your pineapple fried rice and Thai beef salad please. If you don’t want to share here, please email!

    gaileee@yahoo.com

    Thanks!

  17. Hey Derek!!

    Great post!! Thai food is my favorite, but I can never make it as good as it is in restaurants.

    Other than Thai, I try to cook at home as often as possible. It’s way cheaper and way healthier, like you said. Every once in a while I’ll grab lunch out (today was Chipotle) or my family and I will go out to dinner on a Saturday night just to get out of the house. We always cook during the week, though!

    • My wife just made a stew that’s lasting us all week! In total, it probably cost us $12 and it’s feeding 2 people for at least 5 days. It’s so crazy how much we pay for our food when we go out to eat!


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