Eat at Home: with Freschetta!

We’ve been exploring the topic of eating out vs. eating at home all month. While cooking from scratch may be the most frugal option for some, other lazy busy moms like me appreciate the occasional good ol’ fashioned frozen pizza. Can I get an amen?

pizza-300x225Photo Credit

In all seriousness, having some frozen convenience food on hand can go a long way in preventing those last minute dash-to-the-drive-thru budget busters on busy weeknights. And sometimes a frozen pizza is exactly what my picky eaters enjoy. So when the folks at Freschetta invited me to try their new FlatBread Pizzas, I gladly accepted. One less night of cooking for mom!

freschetta-logo

I must admit, I am rather particular about my pizza. Frozen pizza has always left me wanting. It’s lacking something… maybe the crust?

Anyway.

Enter Freschetta FlatBread Pizza. The naturally rising dough was delicious and satisfying. Available in four varieties, I personally appreciate the two meatless selections: 5-Cheese and Roasted Garlic and Spinach. Yum!

Add a tossed salad or some fresh fruit to round it out and you have a quick and easy frugal meal in under 20 minutes. My favorite local pizza joint may be seeing less of me in the near future. ;)

Freschetta Pizzas are available for around $5.00 at Walmart and other grocers. Combine that with this $1.00/1 printable coupon, even better!

What say you? Would the right frozen pizza help you eat at home more?

Disclosure: This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Freschetta. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Eating Out vs. Eating In: Refocusing

The following is a guest post from Katie Hostetter of Frugal Femina. If you are new to our series about eating out, read more here.

Katie at GraduationKatie and her friend Beth at graduation

Two years ago, I got the itch to go to nursing school. Even though I had a college degree in a field I loved, I could not get nursing school out of my head. Somehow, everything fell into place for me to go. {Who am I kidding? I know Who orchestrated that whole scenario.} I signed up for my prerequisites at the last possible moment, and I finished them a semester earlier than I had hoped. So I asked the school if I could apply for the fall semester even though the deadline had passed. They told me I could, but there was only one spot left.

Well, I got that one spot, and I got to go for free. Mileage, uniforms, books, classes, daycare, all expenses paid! I had dreams of going to nursing school, keeping the house clean, fixing home-cooked meals, spending every possible moment with my kiddo, being a Mamavation Mom, reading the Bible in 90 days. I put a lot on my plate! That didn’t last for long. The last semester of school, I pretty much gave up on everything. I told my husband, Xon, that I couldn’t be responsible for paying the bills anymore, I couldn’t clean the house, I couldn’t cook. So for the last 3 months of school, we ate out for virtually every meal. As in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. And boy, did it take a toll on our budget!

I look back on our bank statement and shudder. $21.06, $18.80, $17.28. It’s not cheap to eat out with a family of three! We went from paying $50 a week on groceries to sometimes paying $50 a day. Ouch! I worked midnights for my practicum and stayed up during the day with our toddler, Bradley. So if I wanted a Starbucks coffee, I got a Starbucks coffee, dangit! We did not do a good job of paying the bills, but I didn’t have enough energy to do anything about it. It took a toll on our health, our finances, our relationship. It was a whole heap of mess there for a little while! All we wanted was to get to graduation and have a minute to refocus, to regroup.

Well, thankfully I did graduate, and we are reestablishing order! I look back and see ways I could have made life a lot easier. I should have:

  • Used coupons at restaurants when we needed to eat out. MyKidsEatFree.com lists all kinds of places for free meals.
  • Stocked up on easy meals at the grocery. I post Kroger deals every week. I could have used them to buy some fix-it-and-forget-it type meals.
  • Bought groceries online. Alice.com offers free shipping, and if you sign up for a new account, you get a $10 credit after you spend $50.
  • Asked friends/family/church members to help. They would have been more than happy to make an extra meal here or there…If they had known I needed help.

I didn’t do any of those things, but I did graduate this past weekend! So now I’m ready to get back on track with menu planning, grocery shopping, and all of the fun things I did in my pre-nursing school life.

Have you gotten off track with grocery shopping and menu planning? What did you do to refocus and regroup?

Katie Hostetter lives on a farm in Kentucky with her husband and toddler. She shares tips on bargain shopping, healthy living, kid activities, menu planning, and other adventures at Frugal Femina. Now that she has graduated, you’ll see her around much more on Twitter and Facebook.

Linked to Frugal Fridays on Life As Mom and Mrs. Moneysaver

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Eating Out or Eating In? Six Benefits to Dining at Home

The following is a guest post from Catherine of A Spirited Mind.

After a long day spent juggling the myriad tasks of motherhood, it’s tempting to go out to eat. But what if going out to eat isn’t the best option for your family? Whether you are on a budget, on a diet, or on a quest to slow your family down, eating at home doesn’t have to mean hunkering down to joyless, boring or time intensive meals. Here are the top benefits I’ve discovered to dining in rather than eating out:

We save money. Over time I’ve learned to approximate our favorite restaurant foods, so when I’m craving Indian food, Olive Garden breadsticks or something else, I can make it myself for a fraction of the cost. As an added bonus, I’ve found that many other cultures base their food on seasonal produce, so I’m often able to make us a great international meal for much less than an order of fast food.

We save time. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I’ve found that if I keep a few ingredients on hand I can whip up a great homemade meal in a fraction of the time it takes to load my kids into their carseats and drive somewhere. I can even make a homemade pizza faster than Papa John’s delivers. Keeping meal-sized portions of cooked and frozen meat on hand cuts down dramatically on the time I have to invest on busy nights, while still giving me flexibility to make whatever we’re craving.

I get to be creative. I’m not a great cook, but I’m not afraid to try new things. Because we’re on a budget I can’t always follow recipes (especially for ethnic foods) exactly, but over time I’ve found creative ways to substitute cheap ingredients for rare or expensive ones. Extemporaneous and flexible cooking is a great creative outlet.

I have more opportunities to teach my children. When we eat at home I can expose my children to foods beyond the chicken nuggets on the kids’ menu. While we prepare and enjoy a new type of food, we learn about how people from other cultures and parts of the world live and eat and what their lives are like. For example, we recently learned about Iran and then staged our own Persian New Year meal.

I’m a better nutritional gatekeeper. When I make a recipe, I have a much better sense of what my family is eating than I do when we eat out. At restaurants and drive-throughs, it’s hard to gauge the nutritional value of a food, or even figure out what’s in it. In my kitchen, I can make just about any meal healthier.

I get a sense of satisfaction. It’s satisfying to learn to make a fun new dish, expand my kids’ horizons, keep us healthy, and help steward our resources by blessing my family with a great dinner experience even if it’s “just” at home.

What are some of the benefits you’ve found to eating at home instead of eating out?

Catherine Gillespie lives with her husband and three small children in a little house on what used to be the prairie. She writes about good books, literature-based preschooling, extemporaneous cooking, faithful parenting and other creative pursuits at A Spirited Mind. You can also find Catherine on Twitter and Facebook.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

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