Ideas for an affordable kids' party - make your own cake!Credit:

For someone who loves to cook like I do, it's rare for me to get into a "Cooking Slump" but it does happen.  I'm sure you've been there too - nothing in the fridge looks good, cookbooks and recipe websites are boring, and you just can't seem to find the drive to step into the kitchen, never mind actually pick up a pot or pan.

I'm a single mom of two young ones who want - no, demand - to be fed on a regular basis, so going without dinner is not an option.  What is a mama (or dad) to do when they don't want to cook but the family is chomping at the bit for food?

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Here are a few tips that help me get through my cooking slumps:

Some cooking slumps are caused from sheer boredom of eating the same meals over and over and over with no break.  So, give your taste buds a break by eating out.  If money is a concern, then have breakfast out one morning to break up the monotony - diners and cafe breakfasts are usually substantially cheaper than their dinners.

If you have small kids and the thought of rounding them up, taking them out, and keeping them under control is exhausting in itself, then look into ordering take out from your favorite restaurant instead.  One of you can stay behind to watch the kids while the other runs out to pick up the food.

Of course, there are always delivery options available.  We're not just talking about pizza.  I'm sure there is at least one restaurant in your area that will deliver food to you.  You can find out what restaurants deliver in your area by checking out sites like GrubHub or Eat 24 Hours.  These sites compile lists, hours, and menus for your convenience - just search using your zipcode and see what is available.  Just keep in mind that most places charge for delivery or require a minimum purchase.

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Don't worry if  you don't have the money to eat out or order take-out.  There are a few options to save you from another night in the kitchen:

  • Cook Something Easy - It's best to have some easy meals on the sidelines for those nights you don't feel like cooking.  You could eat breakfast for supper (eggs, bacon, and toast) - super easy and super cheap!  Or heat up some hot dogs and make a box of mac-and-cheese to keep the kids happy.  Worst comes to worst, there's always Hamburger Helper to the rescue!
  • Busy Produce MarketCredit: - If you have that "feeling" early in the day, toss something in the crockpot.  Then you can have the evening off while your little helper cooks for you.  Best of all, if you do something big like a roast, you'll have leftovers for the next day!Find A Replacement Chef - Ask a kid or spouse to cook dinner
  • Leftover Night - Clean out all of the leftovers from the freezer and fridge, heat them up, and serve them buffet-style on the kitchen counter.
  • Raid the Pantry Night - Tell the family that they are on their own for dinner.  Your kids may end up with some strange mixtures of food (like three cookies, two apples, and a stick of cheese) but at least they have something to eat and you didn't have to cook!
  • Cook Ahead - Have a few freezer-friendly meals, like casseroles or cooked chicken, in the freezer for these moment.  (Yes, this takes some preparation and foresight - next time, okay?)