We all have those occasions where we either can’t be bothered cooking dinner or due to circumstantial reasons we end up running out of time. It’s so easy in these types of scenarios to say “oh let’s just go out” or “let’s just order a takeaway”. This can turn into a very costly decision and easily into $60 for a spontaneous night that wasn’t even memorable. Frequent occurrences of these situations can turn into a serious waste of money and that’s something I have a hard time trying to justify to myself.
Fast food today is becoming more and more accessible to us with most restaurants now offering food delivery services for a small fee. A dangerous way to pander to consumers’ laziness late at night when the sense of ‘I can’t be bothered’ really sets in. In these cases, not only are we paying for a meal but also the delivery fee which unless really necessary seems crazy to just throw money away on this type of service. That $5 delivery fee can amount to an entire meal if bought from a supermarket.
I like to combat being stuck in these situations in a couple of ways, first of all by planning. I take my lunch to work every day and it’s the same meal. On Sundays I make a large batch of something and eat that for the rest of the week at work. Pre-planning my meal and buying all the ingredients Saturday for a large cooking session on Sundays help combat any last minute excuses.
Secondly (also an example of pre-planning), at home I have some staples that I like to keep in the pantry/freezer as a form of ‘fast food’. Yes most of it is pre-prepared so is more expensive than cooking something from scratch. But, it’s significantly cheaper than buying takeaway pizza or Thai at the last minute especially if you stock up on staple items when they go on special- one of the reasons I like to keep an eye on the weekly specials magazines.
Below are items that I always like to have in the house as an ‘at home’ form of ‘fast food’.
- Chicken nuggets and chips. You can buy large bags of frozen chips and chicken nuggets that can last for several meals for under $10, a much cheaper version than heading to the local fast food outlet and twenty minutes in the oven isn’t that long!
- Frozen Dumplings. You can buy boxes of frozen dumplings for around $5 or less when they go on sale- a significant saving when compared to going out for dim sum.
- Cup Noodles. These are great when you can get them on sale for $1.50 or less and make a great instant snack.
- Frozen Pasta Sauce (home made). When making a pasta sauce, make double and freeze half in batches. That way when you are in need of a quick meal it’s easy to defrost and takes fifteen minutes to cook a pot of pasta.
I’d also like to point out that all of the above examples don’t require a great deal of preparation or cleaning up for that matter. As a result, it’s definitely worth keeping a few instant meals at home for when instant hunger strikes and you don’t want to get out the credit card.
They may not all be very healthy options, but as a once in a while option it’s not a bad way to go. Particularly when they are all probably better for you (and your hip pocket) than the local fast food joint around the corner.
What do you keep at home as a form of fast food?