8 Money-Saving Hacks for Those Who Hate Cooking

Cooking at home is one of the top ways to keep your budget in check. While cooking and eating at home is a wonderful idea, it is also a daunting one for those who hate to cook (and those who hate to clean up afterward). Worry no more. These hacks will save you money on eating out, while also saving you time and cleanup anxiety.

1. Befriend the Crock-Pot

Crock-Pots are popular with older generations of moms of multiple kids, but what about everyone else? Whether you are single, a family of two, or a family of many, a Crock-Pot can be the perfect timesaving tool. Use Crock-Pot liners, and you won't even have to scrub your cooking dish afterward.

Crock-Pot cooking doesn't have to be complicated or bland. Pinterest is full of recipes (and so is Wise Bread). Look for Crock-Pot dump ideas that you can assemble and freeze ahead of time. I regularly do this after I find meat on sale, and I am able to assemble 10 Crock-Pot dump meals in only 30 minutes.

One easy and tasty option to get you started is to combine boneless, skinless chicken thighs with one package of cream cheese and one jar (16 oz.) of your favorite salsa. Cook on low for three to four hours. Shred the chicken and stir, and you have creamy chicken ready to eat for tacos, pasta, or just on its own.

2. Cook Once, Eat Twice (or Thrice)

Making a lasagna is time consuming. It can take almost 30 minutes to make a pan. However, if you make two or three pans of lasagna, surprisingly the time effort is not multiplied. The extra lasagna can be frozen and used at a later date, for up to three to six months.

You can use this method for enchiladas, many casserole recipes, and more. This method doesn't have to be used just for main dishes. It can also be used for side dishes, such as rice and beans.

3. Embrace Convenient Groceries

There is no shame in buying frozen vegetables, canned beans, and pre-marinated meat. In fact, they make your job a lot easier. Buying items such as pre-chopped onions, microwaveable steamed vegetables, frozen brown rice, pre-made dough, and ready-to-cook meat costs more at the grocery store. However, paying a little more for the convenience will save you a lot more at the drive-thru window.

Make sure you are buying convenient groceries that are still healthy instead of processed, cheap food. For example, frozen brown rice where rice is the only ingredient is a better choice than purchasing Rice-a-Roni.

4. Simple Meals Are Best

Ditch the fancy recipes and cookbooks. Your meals don't need to take a lot of time or have a lot of ingredients. Think of your meal in terms of protein + carb + vegetable. With this simple recipe, you can have a healthy and filling dinner in five to 10 minutes.

See also: 8 Quick Dinners for Lazy Cooks

5. Grill All Your Meat for the Week

My husband loves to grill, so I will take advantage of this by having him grill a week's worth of meat in one go. For him, this takes about 30–45 minutes. For me, it takes only a few minutes to season or pour a marinade over each meat. The meat can then be used in salads, soups, tacos, pizza, sandwiches, and more for the rest of the week.

6. Get Over the Leftover Mentality

I've heard so many people complain about eating leftovers, even to the point of avoiding them altogether. Eating leftovers doesn't mean you have to eat mushy casserole repeats each night. Instead, repurpose a meal into something new and simple. For example, if you eat chicken breasts one night for dinner, try taking the extra chicken and turn it into fajitas or barbecue chicken sandwiches. (See also: 11 Meals That Make Terrific Leftovers)

Many times getting over the ick factor of eating leftovers is just a mental game you need to conquer. The food still tastes good the next day. Even better, eating leftovers will save you money and time.

7. Don't Forget Other Helpful Kitchen Tools

The Crock-Pot gets a lot of praise in the kitchen, but don't forget to utilize a rice cooker, pressure cooker, and bread maker. A rice cooker that can cook rice and steam vegetables at the same time does all the work for you while you prepare the meat. Pressure cookers are a pricier investment, but they can make tender meat and meals in very little time. Finally, a bread maker, which is easy to find inexpensively second-hand, can be used to mix dough quickly for homemade pizza and rolls/biscuits (and of course bread).

8. Make Meal Prep Time Enjoyable

Whether you are cooking one meal or tackling freezer meals for the month, start off with an empty dishwasher. This will allow you to quickly clean as you go.

Make sure to have all of the items you need out and ready to use. Combine tasks to save time. For example, open all of the cans at once or chop all of your vegetables together.

Finally, listen to something fun. I love to listen to audiobooks while meal prepping, but you can also watch your favorite show on a laptop, listen to upbeat music, or watch YouTube videos.

In the end, cooking and eating at home will save you money over purchasing fast food frequently. Even if you hate cooking, you can still enjoy the cost-saving benefits of eating at home without spending too much time in front of the oven or washing dishes.

What are your favorite quick recipes to make when you don't feel like cooking?

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