If your family is like many Arizona families, one of your most important resolutions this year is to find ways to get more with less…especially when it comes to filling our plates with nutritious meals. One of the best ways to do that is to cook more of those meals at home. Here are 6 ways cooking can help you shrink your food budget without sacrificing nutrition or taste.
1. Cook Less, Eat More
One great way to save the amount of money and time you spend on each individual meal is to cook more than one meal at a time. Doubling or even tripling a recipe means you can eat two to four meals for the time it takes to make one meal. The best recipes to choose for multiple meals are those that freeze well or that can be made into more than one thing. For example, if you are having tacos tonight, make enough taco meat for tonight’s meal and also to use in chili on another night and to fill enchiladas next week.
2. Use the Crockpot
You might only think of using the crock-pot in the cupboard for potluck parties but it can be a real time and money saving when it comes to making meals at home. It also makes it much easier to make hearty home-cooked meals while you are at work or out of the house. One pot meals like soups and stews cut down on time and money.
3. Leverage Your Leftovers
Leftovers have a bad reputation but if you can find ways to re-use them creatively, they can really help cut your food costs. While most people might look down on leftovers, they can make great lunches. They are also great in multi-ingredient meals like soups, stews, and even stir-fried dishes. Have a few left over pork chops? Chop them up for a spicy Szechuan stir fry. Have some leftover steak sitting in the fridge? Chop it up and make your own steak Caesar salad.
4. Start with a Salad
Everyone needs to eat more vegetables and starting your main meal with a big, flavorful salad can kill two birds with one stone. First, you will be getting more nutritious veggies onto your family’s plate. Second, you will decrease the amount of entrée and sides you need for everyone to get their fill by having them partially fill up on salad first.
5. Do It Yourself Dessert
You don’t have to cut out delicious desserts to cut back on your food bill if you make your own delicacies at home. Homemade pie, cakes, and cookies cost a fraction of those that are pre-made at the store. If you make them from scratch, you can cut costs even more.
6. Buy Big, Serve Small
One easy way to get more food for your money is to buy big and serve small for things that you currently buy in single servings. Yogurt is a great example of how this can save you some real cash. Instead of buying 8 individually packaged single serving yogurt cups, buy one large tub of yogurt and split it into single servings yourself.