I have a funny cycle of trying to save a lot of money when I get back from vacation even though my vacation is fully paid for and has no impact on my financial status. I guess the brain is great at playing tricks and I’m good at responding to those tricks. So I’m currently in an I need to save money mode and I’m embracing it as this can only be good for me.

My number one go to saving hack is defaulting to home cooked meals and the second in line is try to buy nothing. I’m now set on saving money all of September by cooking all our meals from scratch. To get into the mood, I started the evening we returned by avoiding take out and making a red lentil stew with home made bread using simple recipes I found on the internet.

We made the long journey back home from our vacation a week ago and typically we will order in because we are tired from the travel. Fact is the minute we order in, it becomes easier to default to this for the rest of week and find ways to justify it from it’s not so expensive to we are still in vacation mood. As we didn’t have fresh groceries, I decided to use what we already had and the easy to make option was the red lentil stew and bread. The meal worked out, was yummy and I had enough leftovers for lunch for rest of week.

I know it’s easy to say I don’t know how to cook or don’t know what to cook and neither do I so I use the free resources available. There are so many free recipes online that are easy to follow and deliver good results. I typically go for quick meals preferably less than 30 mins with not a lot of ingredients. So before I choose a recipe, I check the number of ingredients, time it takes and the review score. I also read some reviews to confirm if the recipe delivers what it’s offering. What I’ve found is 95% of the time, the recipes deliver and for the 5% when they don’t we enjoy it still.

For the last one week, we made it without shopping groceries except for fruits by using up what’s in the freezer and food pantry. Breakfast was mostly muesli and baked goods with lunch a mix of leftovers and quick pasta. Dinners all turned out nicer than expected and I tried new recipes which I’ve now added to my list of staples. The other meals I made were Risotto with gambas in tomato sauce, from scratch gnocchi in tomato sauce, Swedish meatballs with mash potatoes and my Husband made a creamy mushroom pasta. They were all made with ingredients we already had at home and all tomatoes used were from our balcony garden.

My number 1 hack will always be home cooked meals which can be simplified by having a list of go to recipes that work for you, basic ingredients in the pantry/freezer and carving out some time to cook.

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