What sets a good cook apart from a bad one is the ability to make the most out of limited resources. This is a skill that would be particularly useful given the current circumstances when panic-buying has left supermarket shelves completely bare.
Being able to cook meals at home can be a good way to save money if you’re trying to stick to a food budget. Whether you’re an expert in the kitchen or a complete novice, these practical cooking tips will maximize your savings without sacrificing on the taste.
Follow Recipes Loosely
First off, get into the mindset of seeing recipes as ‘technical road maps’ instead of a set-in-stone guide that you must when cooking. Choosing to follow fancy recipes to the tee can be uneconomical because you might not have some of the required ingredients. Don’t have dark, low sodium soy sauce for that stir-fry recipe?
Try replacing it with a splash of regular soy sauce mixed with some brown sugar or honey. Not only will it save you a trip to the grocery store, but it will also make the recipe less expensive, therefore saving you some much-needed cash.
Similarly, buying an entire bag of parsley for a recipe that only calls for a few sprigs of it might be wasteful. Ingredients like it would likely end up in your fridge and go bad before they can be used again.
Use Meat as ‘Support’
Another way a home cook can save money is by using less meat in their meals as it often ends up costing the most. To do this, refrain from making dishes that have meat as the main ingredient. Instead, opt for recipes that use it just for extra flavor. Stir-fries are a great example of this principle in action.
If you must buy meat, choose cuts that are less in-demand as they tend to be cheaper in comparison to the regular cuts. Food expert Daniel Gritzer says that beef cheeks and shoulder cuts are less expensive than steaks and ribs but packed with flavor.
Use What’s Already in the Pantry
To avoid food wastage during a time of crisis, make a habit of cooking with ingredients that are already in your pantry. Before spending more on groceries, make an inventory of what you have, and find creative recipes to use them.
A site like Recipe Land can be helpful in this quest. All you need to do is enter the ingredients you have in the search bar and click ‘find’ for delectable dishes that can be made with the combinations. Making use of the leftovers will also prevent good food from going to waste.