Pantry Savings

Temptation 1: Dinnertime. You feel like something hearty. You have time to cook, but you're too lazy to go to the store.

Easy Solution: Order a pizza.

Pantry Solution: Jamie's Minestrone

Jamie's Minestrone
Photo by Kathikay

This recipe is a foundation for any tomato-based soup. Stock canned tomatoes, chicken broth, and onions in your pantry, and you can always make a hearty soup in an hour, subbing in whatever other ingredients you happen to have on hand. This usually happens once a week. Saves $30 each time.

Temptation 2: You're on your way home from work. You know what you're making for dinner, but you're hungry right now!

Easy Solution: Stop off and get take-out.

Pantry Solution: Have a snack when you get home.

I have never made a cheese plate that looks this nice.

Buy crackers in bulk and keep cheese on hand so you can make a cheese plate as a snack in seconds. A few bites of cheese quiets the stomach and the urge for take-out. Happens once a week. Saves $20 each time.

Temptation 3: It's the weekend and you need lunch.

Easy Solution: Roll out to a restaurant.

Pantry Solution: The magic of couscous.

Greek Couscous
Photo by Mrs.Humphreed

Couscous is Mother Earth's gift to the busy. It cooks in 5 minutes, and pairs well with anything. Just on Allrecipes we've got recipes for Mayan Couscous, Greek Couscous (pictured above), and Indian Curry Couscous. You don't have to get so globe-trottery—usually I just make some couscous, cook up some frozen veggies, stir them together and add some canned tuna. This takes 10 minutes, tops. This usually happens once a week. Saves $10 each time.

Temptation 4: It's morning, I'm in a hurry.

Easy Solution: A Starbucks breakfast sandwich

Pantry Solution: Always have eggs, bread, and a non-stick pan.

Minute Breakfast Sandwich

Stressful mornings are wretched. If you're like me you just want to hurry out the door, and that means stopping off for a breakfast sandwich. But, really, it takes Starbucks about as long to heat up their breakfast sandwich as it does for you to make a fresh one. Bread in the toaster, eggs in the pan, throw on a splash of hot sauce and you've got a 210-second breakfast sandwich. This usually happens once a week. Saves $5 each time.

So, add it up, and we've saved about $130 every two weeks—more than enough to pay the cleaners, plus a generous tip. I'm well-fed, my house is clean, my s.o. is happy, and I'm not bankrupt. Win-win-win-win!