If one of your goals this year is to save money, you’re probably taking a good look at your food bill. Buying takeout food is a bad habit you might rely on when you’re busy or too tired to cook, but it can kill your budget. Even busy cooks can curb their takeout spending. Here are a few suggestions:

Create boundaries: Eliminate or set a limit on unhealthy and processed foods. This will make most takeout meals unappealing. For instance, never eat out for meals that can be made at home easily and cheaply. For example, don’t order costly pasta dishes when it’s so cheap, quick and easy to make them at home.

Motivate yourself: There’s no shortage of recipes online that offer photos and step-by-step tutorials. Or borrow or buy a new cookbook and add new meals to your regular meal rotation.

Plan ahead: On days when you know you’re going to be busy, do what you can to prep beforehand. For example, make the salad or chop vegetables. Cooking sides can be time consuming, so let appliances like a rice cooker or slow cooker give you a helping hand.

A small cooler or snack box in the car can help you avoid impulse takeout decisions, too. You’ll have snacks available if you get hungry or thirsty while you’re out, eliminating the need to stop at a drive-thru or convenience store.

Sara Noel owns Write to her c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO, 64106, or email