I have been cooking from scratch a lot recently. I have a lot of reasons why, and my reasons change every day, it seems!
--I know what's in it
--I enjoy making it
--Self-sufficiency -- I'm not reliant on stocking a special product to make something.
If you looked at our dining out budget this time last year, you would see an embarrassingly high amount in the dining out category. And not that I budgeted for it - we would just blow it by colossal proportions every month. I know its partially our phase of life - young kids (recently cheap to feed, lol) and lots of big house projects. But then there were the legitamate dining out expenses: a special (rare) date, event or a birthday in addition to the just plain exhaustion and not knowing what to cook drive thru experience. I hated how much was spent on drive thru food. The kids didn't appreciate it at all - they liked the instant gratification of fast food and fought with us about why they couldn't eat it *every* day. By meal planning and cooking double of what we eat (and controlling everyone's portions of the food groups) it has helped our budget, waistlines and mostly our attitude about food. The kids no longer look at the kitchen as a vending machine for food, expecting it NOW. They now see what is involved in cooking it. They see the whole food before it is processed into what they are familiar with and have been willing to give more foods a try. I have to admit - dining out is still a luxury we enjoy but now we tend to have better behaved kids in the restaurant (because its more special) and its money spent more deliberately at times we try to plan on instead of defaulting to a drive thru. (sorry readers, its a rough paragraph, but parenting calls :) )
I've found a few helpful websites that I've been following to get frugal and creative recipes that I've been referring a lot of people to lately. I'd like to give them proper credit and list them here:
Hillbilly Housewife - did you know you can make your own tortillas and bisquick?!
Mommy's Kitchen - lots of yummy stuff here
All Recipes.com - I love how I can adjust the serving size to fit what I have on hand.
There are several more, and I'm a follower of them - you can see many cooking blogs listed in my profile if you want. If you have any website suggestions for me, feel free to leave a comment! Thanks.