Home Cooking on a Budget
In my work as former chef and educator, when I asked people if they did any home cooking, one of the biggest obstacles that I was told they faced is it is too expensive to have good meals at home. Instead they would settle on quick and easy dinners. While you do have to spend money to create good meals, it doesn’t have to break the bank.
To be an efficient home cook one of the main things you need to do is to plan out your week’s meals. By planning ahead, you will be able to do your grocery shopping in a more efficient manner. This is helpful if you are like me. Every time I go to the supermarket, I always end up buying items that I hadn’t planned on. By limiting the trips to the supermarket, you will go less often and, in all likelihood, save money.
So how can I save money you ask? It’s fairly easy. Some of the best ways of saving money are by preparing meals early, and warm them up at mealtime. Meals such as stews, roasts and soap can be made ahead of time or in a slow cooker so that they will be ready when you are. I have prepared a variety of meals in the slow cooker, making all my preparations and starting the cooking in the morning. Doing this meant that by the time the family was ready to sit down and eat dinner that evening, the food was ready to be enjoyed. And in many cases, you will have leftovers for sandwiches or as a meal on another day. Using a slow cooker works very well and I have found some good recipes on these sites:
- Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes
- Slow Cooker Recipes from the Food Network
- Betty Crocker Best Slow Cooker Recipes
So now that the main course is ready, how about the rest of the meal? For me, a salad is always a good way to start off your meal. Often times I will make a large salad that will be good for a couple of days. Generally, I will make a salad that is good for two days (sometimes three if the kids are not around and eating at friends’ houses). In addition, other side dishes that you can prepare early, and heat later are vegetables, applesauce (don’t heat it!} and one of my kids' favorites ,mac and cheese. To save more money, I try to buy these items in larger sizes. Generally larger cans are cheaper and will last longer.
In my experience by thinking ahead and by planning out your week’s menu, you can have great, quick meals, and not spend a ton of money!