There’s no denying that cooking at home is cheaper than eating out (where you pay for the experience as much as the food). But that doesn’t mean that your grocery bill is cheap by any means. However, you can still find ways to save on cooking. If what you love about dining out, for example, is that you get to socialize and you don’t have to make your own food, you could still get the social experience you crave and save some time and money by hosting regular potlucks at your house for family and friends so that cooking duties and costs are spread out and everyone can participate. Of course, it isn’t practical to do this every night. So here are just a few tips to save you some money on everyday cooking.
Cook in bulk. You’ve no doubt heard of the concept of buying in bulk, and thanks to wholesale warehouse stores like Costco you can save a ton of money by purchasing items in bulk that you use frequently. However, you should also consider cooking in bulk. This is not only a great way to save time since you can cook and freeze several meals at once, and then simply thaw and reheat them on nights when you don’t necessarily feel like cooking, but it can also save you money. You’ll see less food waste from spoilage when you use up all the ingredients you’ve got. And when you have quick meals readily available at home, you’re less likely to splurge on outside dining options.
Go continental. Europeans traditionally hit up their local grocer daily to get the fresh items they’ll need for their meals. We could take a page from their playbook. Instead of shopping for weeks’ worth of meals at a time, increasing the potential for spoiled food, consider adding at least a couple of trips a week to your schedule. It may seem a bit more time consuming, but you won’t have to get as much stuff on each trip. And if you ride bikes to your market, you and your family can squeeze in some exercise and reduce fuel costs at the same time.
Portion food appropriately. We have a very big problem in this country (no pun intended) with overeating, and the main reason is because people don’t know the first thing about proper portion sizes. For example, restaurants tend to serve 8-oz. portions of meat at the smallest; a proper portion size for the average adult is 4-6 ounces of meat in a serving. Further, we tend to eat a lot more meats and carbs than is strictly necessary when about half of our plate should be filled with fruit or vegetable options. When you start to create proper portion sizes for you and your family, you’ll not only find that you’re eating less (which is good for your waistline), but also that you’re wasting less. Nothing left on the plate means nothing is going in the garbage, and you don’t have to overeat to achieve this goal if you serve proper portions.
Select cheaper cuts of meat. You might prefer the boneless, skinless chicken breasts or the filet mignon, but you’ll pay for the quality of cut. Instead, you can save some money by putting in a little extra time or effort. Chicken with bones and skin is cheaper, so you can save by stripping it yourself. As for beef, get familiar with your crockpot. You can not only make tough cuts like roasts so soft that they melt in your mouth, but you can throw them in with some veggies and broth in the morning, leave them simmering all day, and come home to a house that smells delicious and a dinner that’s ready to serve.
Amp up leftovers. There is an unfortunate tendency to look down on lowly leftovers, leaving them in the fridge until they turn moldy and have to be tossed. But a good way to cut back on waste and make every meal (and dollar) go further is to find ways to rework tired leftovers. For example, you could add leftover meat or veggies to pasta or rice with some kind of sauce, making a new meal entirely. Or you could throw leftover casserole in a skillet to warm and add on some raclettes or other cheeses and a few new spices. Any way you can find to make leftovers more appealing so that they get eaten is bound to save you some money on cooking.