Hate Cooking? Use These Tips to Save Money and Eat Healthy

by Ashley Eneriz · 11 comments

Have you ever read an article on how to save money on groceries only to find out that most of the tips are based around making all of your meals from scratch?

Yes, I totally agree that the best way to have a low grocery budget is to make all of your bread, yogurt, and more from scratch, while eating more bean-based meals. However, this advice is hard to follow if you don’t particularly like spending time in the kitchen.

I don’t hate cooking, but it’s something I would prefer to not to spend a lot of time doing, while still providing healthy meals for my family.

Here are a two tips to save money on groceries, even if you hate cooking.

Look for Fast Alternatives

I’ve discovered that the more I limit my grocery bill, the more I end up spending on fast food. I would feel guilty for paying more for a bag of chopped onions, frozen bell pepper strips, or healthy meats prepared in a sauce.

Then I realized that even though I might pay $15 for a 2-lb steak in a mushroom sauce (something that’s easy for me to make myself), it still ends up being cheaper than eating out at a restaurant. Just getting two combo meals for my husband and I costs $12-15, and there are no leftovers. Whereas the steak package plus a side of frozen vegetables cost less than $18 but ends up being stretched to one dinner for us and two lunches for him.

I’m not saying to go hog wild at the grocery store, but if you struggle with eating fast food a lot, then look for easier meal ideas, even if they cost more. I would rather increase my grocery budget by $100 then to waste $200 on fast food each month just because I keep getting in a dinner rut.

Experiment with Systems

My go-to system is doing an entire month’s work of prep and then putting all the ingredients into the freezer. When you’re ready to make a meal, just pull everything out and cook it.

This may seem like a big task to take on if you hate cooking, but I’ve found that prepping or cooking all of my food in one day leaves me time to focus on other things. Plus, when I do freezer cooking, my kitchen stays much cleaner for the rest of the month.

Experiment with prepping all your food for the upcoming month. Or prepare everything on Sunday night before the week starts so you’re not running behind the rest of the week. Try buying food that can be used in multiple recipes, or repurposing last nights leftovers into a new and delicious meal.

Pay for Meal Planning

If you really hate cooking because you can’t ever think of any healthy meal options, then try paying for a simple menu planning service that gives you a printable shopping list and easy to follow cooking instructions.

Some great sites to check out are:

  • 5dollardinners.com
  • 5dinners1hour.com
  • onceamonthmeals.com
  • buildamenu.com

I’ve personally used 5dinners1hour.com and was pretty happy with that program. I ended up paying less than $50 for the groceries and had all of my meals made in just over an hour. I liked about 75 percent of the recipes we ate, too. I think all of these sites will help you save money and spend less time cooking, but you just have to stick to it.

I will probably never be one of those ladies making a homemade chocolate cake on the weekend or trying adventurous recipes. But I’ve learned not to feel guilty that I hate baking, hate cleaning the kitchen constantly, and hate reading recipes.

However, I don’t let my disdain of cooking keep me from making three meals a day for my family, even if it means I spend more on frozen brown rice and pre-washed and chopped vegetables.

Do you hate cooking? How do save money without cooking everything from scratch?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Argie says:

    I do all my cooking from scratch because of allergies, but I’m retired and it’s not a problem time-wise for me to do the prep in stages and cook when everything is ready to go. However, one thing I’ve been doing for a long time might help someone who is doing the batch cooking. When I make a casserole, I grease the dish beforehand, then put in the ingredients and seal dish and all for the freezer. When the casserole is completely frozen, I slip it out of the dish and into a freezer bag. When I’m going to cook it, the frozen casserole fits nicely into the dish and goes into the oven to cook. I’ve done this with dishes to microwave, also.

  • Lacey says:

    I make a menu and prep my veggies for the entire week. It seems to speed up cooking a lot during the week.

    Sometimes after I shop, my husband will grill all the meat at once.

    We use the crock pot quite a bit too.

    I’d like to do more batch cooking, but I can’t seem to make enough freezer space for it! 🙂

  • Liz says:

    i finally broke down and started buying bagged lettuce. It lasts so much longer and we eat much healthier because it’s fast with no prep. I cut veggies every Sunday and put in containers then grill lots of chicken or in the winter I get rotisserie chickens, cut them up and store in the fridge.

    We make our own salads with warmed up chicken at least three or four times a week. Change up the veggies and dressing for variety.

  • Lucien says:

    I work from my own recipes a lot (quick, simple, easy recipes), and found plantoeat.com worked really well for me. Thanks for the article! It’s a good argument in favor of spending a little more to avoid spending a LOT more.

  • freebird says:

    Actually I enjoy cooking, but my favorite happens to be tuna sashimi. What sells for over 60 bucks a pound at a Japanese restaurant you can get for 20 bucks a pound from most Asian groceries. That’s pre-sliced in a tray with wasabi and ginger included. For even more savings, buy the tuna steak for 7 bucks a pound and slice it yourself. It’s quick and not a big mess to clean up (but don’t try this drunk).

    • Ashley says:

      That is such a great deal. I love sashimi too but have always been afraid to do it this way (probably because we live out in a desert – no fresh fish around haha). Awesome idea!

  • Zoe says:

    I loathe cooking but also loathe wasting money. So I married a man who cooks, and I do the planning and grocery shopping! We use your freezer cooking method except instead of doing the whole month’s meals (we’ll try that!) we just make sure that we make extra of every meal, so that we can have frozen leftovers for another night.

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