take a bite out of your food budget

It’s easy to blow your food budget at the grocery store, if you allow yourself to be seduced by all of the sexy new food stuffs.

Delicious meals do not need expensive ingredients!

I do believe, if you use great ingredients that you will be a better cook. However, great ingredients do not immediately translate into expensive ingredients.

Something else to consider is how the ingredient will be used in the dish that you are preparing. A common, unnecessary expense that many cooks make is using extra virgin olive oil to fry with. Much better to fry with a pure olive oil because it burns at a higher temperature making it more difficult to burn whatever you are frying! Save the extra virgin olive oil for dipping bread or drizzling over summer ripened local tomatoes. In other words, use  the more expensive, extra virgin olive oil when you are actually going to be able to taste it in its purest form.

Another temptation is to buy chicken breasts pre-packaged instead of buying the whole bird and cutting it up yourself. Check out the difference in price between pre-cut chicken breasts and a whole chicken… It’s worth getting your hands messy and freezing what you don’t use for another day.

There are some ingredients that are well worth paying extra for:

  • pure vanilla extract
  • just caught fish
  • fresh basil and flat leaf parsley – these herbs have a nasty taste when dried
  • coffee beans – grind your own
  • imported Italian plum tomatoes – from San Marzano if possible
  • imported olives
  • locally grown anything
Buying larger quantities of dried goods such as flour and sugar, as long as it is stored properly, can also save you a bundle. Whenever, you buy large quantities of anything be sure to check the expiration date.
Try to stay away from pre-made sauces, pre-cut vegetables, portioned meat… all of the things that appear to be time savers. They may save you time but you will spend more money than necessary and may keep you from creating a “great” dish!
Thanks for reading.