Hi there. I’m on vacation for the next 10 days so I will have some great guest posts from my bloggy friends! Here is the first and it’s from Marina. Enjoy!
We all love to eat. We all love to save money too! Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile these competing desires. It’s important, therefore to learn to find healthy foods on an unhealthy budget. Cooking should be easy and fun but if you make poor grocery choices, panic shop for each dinner, or go all out and buy too many kitchen gadgets, cooking can become an expensive deal. The tips in this article are compiled from the insights of caterers, cookbook authors and chefs over the years about eating well without spending much.
1. Buy Seasonal Produce
Buying non-seasonal produce is always expensive, as you’ll be paying for stored or imported stuff. Tomatoes come into season in August in the US and that’s when you should be buying them, not in December. Better still; grow your own produce for the best and cheapest deal!
2. Purchase Whole Herbs And Dry Spices
Buy fresh herbs whole at farmers markets. Don’t buy bottled herbs in the hopes that they’ll survive the test of time, retaining their flavor and freshness. Buy fresh herbs in small quantities and only when needed. When it comes to spices, buy them whole. Make your own spice mixes as and when required.
3. Avoid Buying Processed Cheese
Buy real cheese in bulk whenever you get a good offer. Cheese does not spoil for a long time and even the little mold that sits on them can be removed to use the cheese. Avoid buy processed cheeses; not only are these more expensive, but they don’t offer the same taste and quality as real cheese. Store your cheese in a cool storage area free of heat and it will keep for a long time.
4. Buy Tough Cuts Of Meat
Tough cuts of meat are nutritious and easy to digest if you slow cook them. They are much cheaper than the softer, more preferred cuts that are sold at a premium. Slow cook your meat in an earthen oven in your garden, or in a large pot in a standard oven. Use up additional space in the pot to roast potatoes and tomatoes as well for a filling meal.
5. Buy Organic Veggies From Local Farmers
Find out where farmers hold their weekly markets in your area. Farmers markets usually sell organically grown produce that’s very healthy. Farmers don’t charge more than store prices but you can get good deals and more produce for the price if you are a regular. Farmers markets also carry a variety of produce that supermarkets won’t, for the most part. That apart, you’ll be saving on the packing, transportation and the AC costs that supermarkets add to their products.
6. Shop In Asian Markets
Asian markets can offer you great deals on produce, exotic ingredients and spices. You don’t need to make regular trips to these markets. Just go once in a month and stock up on spices, meats, fish, and other wholesome goods at much better rates than at your local supermarket.
7. Don’t Buy Pots And Pans That Come In Sets
Pots and pans that can be bought in sets don’t represent a bargain. The same is the case with sets of knives. You’ll end up buying pots, pans and knives that you don’t really need and probably will never use. Buy the utensils you need, even though it might seem you’re paying more for a single item than you would for a set. In the long run, the amount of use you get out of your selected single items will more than make up for wasting items from a set. By buying singles, you’ll be buying quality and paying only for what you need.
8. Buy Multi-Use Items
Don’t focus on buying specialized gadgets such as garlic pressures, chili crushers and so on. These specialty products will just remain unused in your kitchen, even though they might seem tempting when you buy them. Buy standard peelers, good knives and other implements that have multiple uses. When you use a single item for more than one use, you’re multiplying its utility and optimizing its cost.
9. Slow Cook Your Food
Slow cooking is easy, fun and is a great way to tenderize foods. The extended cooking times allow better flavor distribution, while the low temperatures lessen the chance of scorching. Food that’s at the bottom of a pan can easily burn in an oven. Opt for the slow cooking method for less expensive cuts of meat, such as steaks, stew beef and chuck roasts. Slow cooking tenderizes meat and makes it more flavorful and easily digestible.
Buy a slow cooker; you will be able to free your oven and stovetop for other cooking as well. Best of all, you can just leave your slow cooker to do its job and go about with other tasks without worrying about your food.
10. Learn To Use Coupons
There’s more than one way to save money in the kitchen. Learn to use food coupons to take advantage of discounts. Scour your Sunday newspapers for coupons from local supermarkets. Check online coupon sites for coupons you can use in your locality. Study on how you can club coupons to gain bigger discounts.
11. Take A Cooking Course
Learn to cook basic meals. If you are already a good cook, your savings potential will be high. However, if you’re forced to eat outside most of the time, you will be spending more than you earn. Learning to cook can be a fun exercise, one that you can enjoy with your partner, friends and family. Start with small dishes and work your way up to large family meals. As you cook, list out the costs of the items and resources you use for a family meal and compare the values against the single meal at a restaurant. It won’t take you long to get the idea.
12. Cook Additional Quantities And Freeze
Whether you cook a small meal or a big one in your oven, you will be heating it to the same extent. Make the best of your oven’s cooking time and cook large meals. When you cook a casserole, make enough for two meals. Do the same with pot-roasts; you can make a stew out of your pot roast later in the week. Roast more vegetables than you’ll eat at one meal. All these methods will help you cut costs while freeing up time for you to enjoy other things.
Marina is SAHM and co-owner of imported special products websites like etagere, hall and foyer tables, decorative vanity mirrors and lot more.