Six Ways to Win at Lowering Food Costs
I love to eat. So does everyone else I know- I don’t have one single friend who does not like to eat (do those people even EXIST?). It’s one of those simple joys in life, which you can count on at least three times a day. Going to a restaurant is a treat, since they usually feature everyday items in a more delectable form with much more flavour of fats, salt and spices. The only drawback is the price associated with eating out.
A frugal solution is to learn how to cook restaurant-style. Now, I’m not saying every dish has to be standout. However, with some experimenting and amazing recipes, you can also cook meals which will make you think twice about getting takeout again. Below are 6 ways you can win big at eating delicious meals at a low cost.
Method is Key
If you slave over making dinner (I’m talking about dinners which actively take over an hour to prepare), I can pretty much guarantee that tomorrow night you’re not going to be in the mood to homecook your meal. In my experience, very time intensive cooking methods like making dumplings, spiralizing your veggies, recipes with over 10 items to prepare, elaborate sauces, and basting foods are exhausting. My three favourite methods of cooking are roasting, stir fry, and using a slow cooker.
Almost every item chopped up, tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted in a pan until it is crispy brown is a home run. If you never thought you’d like beets or brussell sprouts, try them roasted. If you ever craved brunch home fries, roast cubes with your favourite spices and let me know what you think. Roasting is super easy since you usually leave an item in for 40 minutes and flip it halfway. Slow cooking is also less time intensive since you throw everything in a pot and come home to dinner ready. The convenience factor of stir fry is it’s super fast; cook your rice while you start chopping vegetables.
Beans and Legumes
Not only are beans and legumes super cheap, they are incredibly healthy, high fiber and soak up the flavour of whatever you are cooking them in. Beans are easy on the wallet, and the kind of food which tastes better as leftovers. Take your chickpeas and marinate them in olive oil, balsamic and salt overnight and your lunch the next day will be incredible!
Still don’t believe me? I get it. Most people are used to eating meat with every meal. However, try making Ottolenghi’s crushed puy lentils with boiled eggs and you’ll feel like a chef genius. Your welcome.
Fact- frozen veggies are nine times out of ten less expensive than their fresh counterparts. The convenience factor is huge (see Method is Key), especially as they usually come pre-chopped. They can be added to rice, curries, into the water with boiling pasta, steamed, or sauteed with butter and lemon juice. Because frozen vegetables are frozen at the time they are ripe, they often taste better than what’s available during the winter.
Cook extras or double and then freeze it, or bring it for an easy lunch. On the weekends, when we are feeling lazy, my fiancee and I look and see all the past dinner options, now in the freezer and thaw out whatever we want to eat for a quick lunch. It really doesn’t get easier than that….
Grocery Store Takeout
….. except when it does. I read Mrs. Frugalwood’s post on how she always keeps frozen pizza in the freezer to prevent temptation for more expensive take out. For us, our go-to indulgent, unhealthy meal are samosas. Just pop them in the oven and they are done in 30 minutes. Cheaper and easier than getting takeout.
Big Pot of Soup
I love soup. I used to date a Dutch person, and their soups are no joke. Every Saturday the family would take all the leftover vegetables and dice them and simmer them in a soup all afternoon. By adding flavour profiles like harissa, curry, sumac and lemon, and Asian 5 spice powder, a soup is a healthy and easy way to deliver a big win in your kitchen.
If you don’t cook at home often, aim to adopt one of the above recommendations for the next six weeks. By the end of the trial, you’ll have six new ways to cook flavourful meals at home. How do you ensure big wins in the kitchen?