UNITED STATES—I told myself for 2024 my goal was to cook more at home and less dining out. Why? It makes a significant difference in the wallet and the bank account. Yes, inflation has caused all sorts of chaos for Americans when it comes to spending money ESPECIALLY when it comes to food and groceries. Truth be told a quick trip to the store can easily be $50 to $60. The frustrating element is taking a look at what was purchased, and asking myself, “What the hell did I buy?” There isn’t much to show for it.

As a result, you start to question if dining out or grabbing something from a fast-food chain is smarter. No, it truly is not. Most meals are at least $10 on the low end, $15 to $20 on the high-end. The big problem, most of the time you’re still hungry after that fast-food or fast-casual meal you paid for. There are a few chains offering some cheaper bundles, but are they actually healthy? Not really and you can only eat the same thing so many times before you no longer want it.

Food is about variety, and you get more variety when you create a dish at home than when you dine out. So, for this entire month I have ONLY dined out twice, which I think is a massive improvement, where on average I might do it two-three times a week, which means with the month nearly over, I would have spent over $200 to $250, maybe higher. I’m saving a few extra bucks and I like what I’m seeing in my bank account. In addition, I feel I have gotten a bit more creative in the kitchen as well.

I did something last week that even surprised me. I’m not big on crab, but when I was last at the supermarket they had crab legs on sale, so I purchased some. Got home and cooked an angel hair alfredo with lemon poached crab legs. It was a delicious dish, and I didn’t break the bank on seafood. Yes, seafood can be expensive depending on what you eat and considering I don’t each much red meat or pork, I don’t have that many protein options.

It’s chicken, turkey or various forms of fish, and I’m not a big seafood eater so I like to try out new dishes and when you find proteins on sale you have to take advantage of the deals being extended to you. It is not just that I want to save money, but by cooking at home I am getting creative in the kitchen. I’m trying things I normally wouldn’t eat and I’m not eating processed, sodium-laced, deep fried and carb heavy items into my body.

The biggest perk is that I have leftovers and I get full a lot quicker. I think when you are cooking there is a bit more work in the preparation and as a result you don’t feel the need to eat as much, or the dishes crafted are just a lot heartier than other things you eat.

Also I love the trips I make to the local market. I get fresh fruits and veggies, I get to see and chat with individuals and I get the opportunity to control my health. I think that is the key term, I control what I put into my body and when you’re in control it dictates the benefits and drawbacks of what you eat. There is that old saying, “You are what you eat.” So America, what are you eating, and remember, the more you save the more money you have in your pocket for savings, eliminating debt and purchasing a big ticket item you’ve been eyeing.