Our family's new favorite homemade pizza. Post and photo by Amy Suardi.
We all know that preparing our own food can do wonders for a sagging bank account. But not everyone feels the love.
Even though I usually don't mind whipping up dinner, I have plenty of moments when I long to toss the kids in the car and head out for Mexican. Our tight budget makes me wait until that craving passes; then I pull up my bootstraps and get to the kitchen.
Not everybody has the financial constraints we do, but most people wouldn't mind reining things in. Here are three ways to love your night in:1. Pretend You're on TV
After watching your favorite cooking show, print out the recipe to your favorite dish and write the ingredients on your shopping list. When it's time to chow down, ask everyone to rate it: either thumbs up or thumbs down, or one to five stars. If your creation makes the cut, the recipe gets added to your family's favorites.
The Chow section of Parentables is a great place to find reliable, and free, recipes.2. Make a Five-Star Version of Everyone's Favorite
Tacos? Macaroni and cheese? Chicken fingers with dipping sauces?
Push beyond Totino's and Old El Paso and find a rocking recipe for seven-layer dip and chimichangas. When you find that recipe, making the dish and eating it together will become the highlight of your weekend.
We are hooked on a homemade pizza I tried just a few months ago (after being married to an Italian for only 10 years). When that sweet tangy smells fills the kitchen, it signals party-time.3. Sleuth Out Restaurant Recipes
Remember those cheddar and bacon potato skins from Friday's? Or that chocolate flan you had on your honeymoon?
I was wowed by the warm artichoke dip from Houston's steakhouse, and after finding the recipe online, it became my go-to dish for potlucks, dinner parties, and for just making a Friday night at home feel special.
How do you spice up home dinners? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!