If you have ever decided to cook a special recipe, you may have noticed that costs can add up pretty quickly, especially when you cook for a family or for a large group of people.
Everyone wants to use high-quality ingredients as they make the recipe taste better and also are more healthy.
Actually, based on different researchers, it is shown that about 13% of our annual expenditures goes to food alone. It may not seem like a big number but if you consider that 50% of our total annual expenditures goes to housing and transportation altogether, food seems to be a huge chunk of our expenses.
So, if you are looking to save some money, food can be the easiest place to start.
Luckily for you, there are some awesome and very useful tips and habits that you can try, which will make you save a good amount of money.
10 Smart Ways to Save Money When Cooking
1. Eat Less Meat
Let’s start this list with a tip which you may have thought of; Try to eat less meat. If you compare the price of the meat with the most of other cooking ingredients, you will notice that the meat is probably the most expensive one.
So, one best way to cut off your cooking costs is to start cooking recipes with less meat or no meat at all.
I know what you may think: “Meat is rich in protein!”. Well, I am not saying to remove the meat from your diet completely. Try to use it less. Instead, you can use a cheaper vegetable-based protein source such as peanut butter, nuts, tofu, beans etc. Or just use eggs instead. They are the best-for-the-price food which you can get.
2. Plant Your Own Vegetables or Herb Garden
It doesn’t matter if you live in a mountain or a desert; there is always a way to grow your own vegetables or at least herb garden.
You can use flower pots out on the balcony or windowsill. Or you can work with your neighbor to borrow a little yard space in exchange for a few fresh, healthy vegetables at the end.
Just make sure to only plant vegetables and herbs that you know that you will eat a lot of.
3. Repurpose Leftovers and Food Scraps
I know that It can be difficult to make your family eat the same old meal two or more times in a row. So, the best option is to use leftovers to make other alternative meals. Instead of eating them for the upcoming meal, you can freeze them for another day or combine them with other ingredients for a completely new recipe.
For example, after I finish using my offset smoker, I scrape and collect all the meat leftovers to make delicious omelets and leftover vegetables taste great as soup too.
4. Always Keep Stock
If you keep a well-stocked and organized pantry, you will reduce the times needed to go to a grocery store as often. So, you will end up spending less on food each month. The trick here is to buy a couple of extra dried or canned goods each time that you go. For more savings, you can check out the weekly ads on the grocery store sale list. Doing so, you can tailor your shopping list and cooking schedule based on what they have on sale.
5. Use Store Brands
You may have noticed that Name-Brand items costs a lot more than a just regular store-brand version. Usually, for most of the items, there is no difference in quality or ingredients. If you want to make sure, you can compare them side-by-side and read the label. You will see that the ingredients are usually almost identical.
6. Forage for Fruits and Nuts
A huge portion of the fruits and nuts that the local trees produce end up damaged or going to waste because no one picks them up off the ground. Don’t buy everything at the store all the time. If you happen to have a local park nearby with lots of fruits trees, try to pick some. Just make sure to first read the city regulations first about picking up fruits from park trees.
7. Buy in Bulk
A lot of stores sell foods with bulk packages, especially long life shelf foods, such as flour, pasta, salt etc.
By buying in bulk, you will end up saving a couple of dollars per product, which in the end can add a lot to the budget.
Make sure to compare the price of the single unit with the bulk package to calculate how much you actually save. There are some stores that don’t reduce the cost of bulk packages but just sell them in a larger size container.
8. Don’t Shop When You Are Hungry
Probably one of the most popular cooking saving tip out there. Never got to store if you haven’t eaten in a while. It will make you purchase snacks and product which are not necessary and don’t really need. Try to always go shopping after you finish eating a meal. This way, you will only purchase what you really need.
One other cool tip here is to go grocery shopping just after you eat a healthy meal. That way, your brain will be more focused on choosing more healthy items.
9. Buy Frozen Foods
I know that fresh food is the best because of its high nutritional quality but unless you have to cook for a large group of people, you can exchange some items with frozen foods instead. Also, if you buy a lot of fresh products, they may end up going bad before you have a chance to eat it. That’s one good reason why frozen foods may be a better option.
Also, there are a lot of techniques and recipes which can make the frozen food taste as good as the fresh one.
10. Always Plan Your Meals
If you want to save some money when cooking, then you always have to have a meal plan. Doing so will make you save money easier. It doesn’t have to be an exact amount or price. Just put an estimate, so you can see in average which recipes/meals make you spend more money.
So, in conclusion, if you are a cooking enthusiast, just like me, but don’t want to most of your money on expensive ingredients, there are a lot of other alternative ways you can try.
I hope that these 10 smart tips will help you a lot to manage your cooking budget better and actually spend less money while in the kitchen.
About The Author
Kendrick is an outdoor cooking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences and knowledge about food with everyone. He shares more recipes, food tips and tricks and guides on FuriousGrill
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Also published on Medium.