Other than your mortgage, if you’re like most Americans, the biggest expense in your budget is food. Eating out has always been expensive, and with Uber Eats you don’t even have to put on pants to get your beloved shrimp scampi delivered right to your door. It can be hard to fight the urge to order out, but with these five steps, you’ll be able to cook delicious food right at home and take the weight off your budget.

Use the Right Tools

You wouldn’t try to put a nail in your wall using a saw, would you? The same frustration can be felt in the kitchen if you’re using the wrong tool for the job. If you’re new to cooking or just looking for upgrades, investing in a quality cookware will save you time and money in the long run. Don’t do as I did and continually try to boil family sized portions of noodles in a saucepan. Some things just don’t work.

Meal Planning

Okay, I realize this one is intimidating but like anything new, the more you practice the better you get. Start by taking stock of what you already have in your pantry. Create a weekly meal plan using the foods currently in your kitchen and only buy the things needed for those dishes. By using up what you have, you can save money by eating what you have and eliminating unnecessary food waste.

Grow Your Herbs

Not only do plants brighten up a space to make it more inviting, having fresh herbs on hand invites you to try your hand at cooking in the kitchen. You won’t need to log on and see who is delivering when you can come up with gourmet meals on your own with a little help from your green friends. Keep basil, thyme, cilantro, and chives in your window sill for yearlong enjoyment and culinary inspiration. Bonus points for mint and its versatility for both food and drink.

Don’t Be Cheap

Most of us want to save money and often opt for off-brand alternatives. For items such as condiments and spices that last a long time, go ahead and spend the little extra. This money is well spent by adding extra flavor and interest to your dishes. It will still be undoubtedly cheaper than the regular takeout habit. Save money when you can on staples and meal ingredients and buy the cheaper alternatives when available. Just don’t cut corners on flavor, or worse: forget to bring the spice.

Show Off Your Skills

So your cooking skills are really taking off and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself, now what? Host your friends for dinner parties. We all know dinner with the family is beneficial, but take a special night out of the week to invite friends or coworkers. They will gush over the hard work you’ve been putting in to make healthier changes to your diet and you get to indulge in their approval. A smile and a “thank you” are more valuable than any app badge.

Cooking may seem like an old-age practice that only our grandma’s rocked, but even in today’s fast-paced world, we can cut away the time needed to prepare delicious home cooked meals right at home. Sure, there’s an app for that, but the value and health benefits you get from preparing meals at home trumps the convenience of any app.

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