I use mine very often on days I will be gone all day. I can leave casseroles, meats to roast etc in the oven with the timer set. It comes on at the time I want it to and cooks the food. Then shuts off at the time I tell it to so nothing burns if I am late getting home. I also use this in conjunction with my crockpot and bread machine.
In the crockpot or oven I will put a brisket to “smoke” (brisket, sprinkled generously with meat tenderizer, ¼ c liquid smoke poured over it. Wrapped up in foil and in a pan to catch the juices if I am doing it in the oven)
In the oven I put cheesey potatoes (layers of potatoes, onions, shredded cheddar cheese and a cream of soup thinned with milk baked in a foil covered pan at 350 for an hour or so if cooking alone, if cooking with a slow cook meat I cook both at 275 for the length of time the meat needs)
The bread machine has a timed feature and I use that to have bread hot from the machine with the meal.
Green beans or other veggie are put in a covered sauce pan on the burner where the exhaust from the oven comes out.—they are generally warm by the time we eat. If not it’s a quick heat up.
I make a dessert the day before.
No timed bake feature? Turkey roasters with timers on them are always on sale this time of year. You could justify the purchase with the money you would save by not eating out. Some crockpots have timers as well and you can use a crockpot like an oven for “dry” cooking. Just follow the manufacturers instructions. I’ve cooked many a meatloaf in a crockpot. They even have three unit crockpots out now that you can cook three things at once with one base.
If you really feel the need to eat out do so at lunch instead of dinner. The meals will be cheaper and the crowds are generally lower. Then eat what you would normally have for lunch for dinner. Many restaurants have the exact same menu at lunch as dinner but for a lesser price to try and get people in there during the “slow” time of day. I know when we go to some place like Golden Corral we get there just before 4 and then we get to eat at lunch price and the dinner foods are put out. This might not work if you are involved in some activities that are heavily scheduled during daylight hours.