As I’ve mentioned before a couple of times, we live in an area that could likely see a lot of furlough activity. Though there is the possibility of using the furlough days to good benefit, a lot of my friends are looking for good ways to save money as they are looking unlovingly at thousands of dollars in pay cuts into the start of autumn.
Going out to restaurants a lot less, and eating in a lot more, is a great way to save money. You can eat better — and cheaper — by preparing food yourself instead of having someone else prepare (and mark up) the food.
I’ll admit it, though: Going out to eat with friends is fun! And holing up for every meal can be a bit isolating if that’s all you’re paying attention to.
Being anti-spendthrift doesn’t mean being anti-social. Philip Brewer of Wise Bread points out that a frugal change of venue — say, from the coffee shop to the French press in your house — is a good change of pace, even for people who wouldn’t care a lick about being budget-conscious. (Even if they’re not frugal, who wants to argue with “free?”)
We’re fortunate in that most of our friends are already pretty frugal. They’ve already gotten the memo and are practicing now for a few months on a tighter budget.
So when my wife lets me know that there’s chili in the crockpot, we usually can round up some friends to come over to lunch on Sunday after church. (I’ll brag a bit here: My wife doesn’t make chili. My wife doesn’t even make great chili. She makes award-winning chili! She has the ribbon to prove it, even!)
We have a great time with our friends, our kids have fun playing, and it’s far easier on the wallet all the way around. Slow-cooked meals are also easy to prepare: the stuff cooks through the morning and is ready early afternoon.
The extra bonus is that our friends have their mean dishes, and they return the favor.
However, even if your dishes aren’t mean, they’re likely still edible, and your friends will be forgiving of your attempts and/or can bring sides as alternatives.
In any case, they’ll appreciate what you’re sharing: your house, your kitchen, your utensils, your ingredients, and your time. It’s more meaningful and personal than a restaurant lunch.
What favorite budget-friendly meals can you prepare for friends? (Bonus points for slow-cooked dishes!)