When you’re on a strict budget, shopping for and preparing meals can be a challenge. When you’re on a strict budget and have foodie tendencies, it’s even trickier.
Here are our best tips for cooking 5-star quality meals on a cash strapped budget.
Make a shopping list and stick to it
Know just how many meals you need to prepare for the week and what you plan to eat. Be specific! Keeping a detailed list of planned meals makes grocery shopping easy. Also, a comprehensive shopping list helps you avoid making impulse purchases that add up financially. Another tip to prevent impulse buys: don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
Choose meals with common ingredients
Be cautious of recipes that require items you won’t use again. Better, plan meals around the basics already available in your pantry. Things such as truffle oil or extravagant seasoning are unquestionably not modest, and you most likely won’t use it for some time. Meals like salsa seasoned chicken or salmon with vegetables flame-broiled in olive oil are fast, healthy choices that will aid in keeping your meal expenses within your budget.
Try less expensive cuts of meat
You don’t have to give up meat when you’re on a strict budget. Try giving up a more expensive cut of meat for a cheaper cut. It’s an excellent opportunity to haul your slow cooker from your cabinet to your counter.
Consider trying out cheaper cuts of meat such as pork belly and cheeks, lamb necks, or whole chickens. Do a little research online or borrow a cookbook from your local library to learn how to bring out the best in the meat.
Shop in-season produce
Roses cost a premium when they’re not in bloom, and the equivalent goes for your preferred produce. Research what’s in season, and plan around them. In case you’re determined to making something that isn’t in season, consider using a frozen or canned version.
Embrace beans and whole grains
Whole grains and beans such as freaked, brown rice, and quinoa are inexpensive and a delicious way to add substance to meals. Beans are an easy and cheap meat replacement. Whole grains and beans have the bonus of being especially filling and healthy.
Making two plates is more comfortable and more cost-effective. If you don’t have any desire to eat the same meal all week, freeze it. You can defrost it during a busy week when you don’t have the time or energy to cook a full meal.
Ideal for those of us who hate eating the same meal again and again, repurposing leftovers is a smart way to make a new meal. Try planning meals with ingredients that work twofold like chili or baked chicken. With a handful of added ingredients, chili can become chili topped nachos, and roasted chicken can become chicken quesadillas. Be creative with your leftovers.
Try new recipes
A budget doesn’t have to stifle your cooking creatively. Try something new each week to avoid food ruts. You might check budget-friendly recipes on blogs or Instagram. When you mix it up in the kitchen, cooking on a tight budget feels less like a required pain and progressively like a fun new experiment.