Consider preparing "party foods" in place of a regular meal, especially on Friday nights or weekends. You can make pizza pockets, pigs in a blanket, a hearty dip and chips, french fries, egg rolls. The possibilities are endless. Eat something, anything, that you really like that you wouldn't normally make at home. You can even try to find a copy-cat recipe for something that you usually only get at your favorite restaurant. This will add excitement to your menu and keep your family at home. And home is where you can manage to save serious money on food bills, where everyone still has energy to help with the clean up, where you can have good conversation, play a quick game of Yahtzee and watch a movie before it's time for bed. I can't tell you how often we've gone out to eat at a restaurant only to spend too much money, taking serious effort to keep the kids in line in public, getting stressed, not really talking about anything meaningful only to come home too late to do any housework and so tired that we don't end up spending any quality time together before we head to bed. I've found that it's better to just think outside the box, outside the regular "chicken and rice" kind of meals that I usually cook at home and make something novel that will help us want to eat at home. One of my goals this coming year will be to make something "fun" like this once a week, clean up real quick and then play a board game with the kids that same evening.


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