Typically a day out means extra $ on food. Not preparing in advance can mean big bucks that you weren't planning on spending.
Whether or not you have a family, you need to plan on what you're going to eat. Going to a theme park for the day? Pick one thing you'd like to buy (funnel cake) and bring everything else from home. Taking the family to the fair? Let them each know they get their choice of one item and that's it. Having fun is not synonymous with spending money, in fact, it's usually the opposite.
It's a special day, get/make special food! The McGraths spent the day at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, so Ron made chocolate chip cookies last night. I bought a few juice boxes (fruit + veggie juice boxes) but we brought big reusable bottles filled with ice cold water and the juice was just for a treat. I found some chips on sale (whole grain Pringles? They looked weird but tasted yummy) and that was Monty's treat after he finished his lunch.
The point is, a special day doesn't need to stress your wallet. Having portable snacks and treats is the best way to stop unnecessary spending. A few bucks for fries here and a few bucks for coffee and pop there really add up and just aren't worth it!
After a long day, the last thing you want to do is come home and cook a meal. We have a favorite meal around here that is fast, easy and healthy.
Taco Salad (sans Taco)
- Lots of leafy greens. This is a great way to get your kids to eat the darker greens - we always use baby spinach because it's the least bitter.
- Favorite Veggies ready for topping: shredded carrot, cucumber slices, peppers, whatever you've got in your fridge
- Ground meat of any kind. Always cook your ground meat with onion and garlic. Just frying ground meat can be very bland and kind of yucky. I also add a fajita spice mix from Epicure, but you could add chili powder or whatever seasoning your family enjoys. Vegetarians can use Veggie Ground Round (so so good) or skip the meat option. Love meat like a crazy carnivore? Add a bit of freshly cooked bacon to the meat list.... so delicious.
- Little bit of shredded cheese (we like Nacho mix but only if it's on sale/clearance)
Mix your salad in a bowl with whatever dressing you plan on using. This is not a recipe that suits sweet dressings like raspberry vinaigrette. Renee's Ranch has nice big chunks of garlic in it, so that's what we typically use.
After your salad is dressed, put it out on plates and begin topping with cold veggies and cheese. Be sure the salad and veggies are the biggest portion of this meal. You can't have this salad with half meat and half lettuce. 75% veggies, 25% meat and cheese works best for flavor and for keeping it on the healthy side. When your meat is hot and ready, top the salads and serve immediately.
Everyone down to the baby loves this salad. Want to get a 1yr old to eat a spinach salad? This is the way! We especially love to have this meal when I get a big box of organic baby spinach for 50% off - it's a great way to use most of the box and it's a really cheap meal.