Any foodie worth his or her Himalayan pink sea salt will quickly proclaim the kitchen to be the best room in the house. But did you know it is also the go-to spot for friends and family members to connect while cooking, snacking, or eating dinner? Fifty-three percent of adults with children under age 18 eat together at home six or seven nights a week, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.
While it’s great for family unity, the truth is all this cooking, eating, and snacking can add up to a hefty grocery bill. Fortunately, there are shopping and cooking strategies that can help ease the financial burden. Use these tips to save money in the kitchen all while making delicious, gourmet-style food your family will love to eat.
Honor your taste buds. Plan your meals around foods you and your family like to eat. Resist the temptation to buy something just because the price is discounted or you feel it’s the type of food you should be eating.
Check sale items. If your store is offering a promotional price for an item on your shopping list, such as cucumbers, apples, or avocados — grab a few extra. This lets you add a dessert, salad, or appetizer to your meal. Think yummy baked apples, avocado salad with cucumber, or guacamole.
Be realistic. Everyone loves a bargain, but don’t pay more for a bulk item unless you’re certain you will use it all. While it may be less expensive per ounce, it’s not really a better value if much of it goes to waste.
Save unused portions. Ever made a recipe that called for one tablespoon of tomato paste and all you had was an 8-ounce can? What about taking a cup of chicken broth from a 1-quart container? If you can’t buy the exact portion you need for a dish, save the remainder in a labeled plastic bag, freeze, and reuse it later.
Choose recipes wisely. You found the tastiest-looking recipe — now stop and check how many servings it yields. Only select recipes that make the correct number of portions for your family. If the serving size is too large, consider halving the quantities before making your shopping list.
Get creative with leftovers. Before heading to the store, first check your pantry and fridge to see what ingredients you already have. Yesterday’s roast chicken can easily become a salad, soup, or casserole. And Tuesday’s hamburger patties can be transformed into tasty tacos. Top it off with fresh fruit and veggies, such as sliced avocados and chopped scallions, and voilà! You’ve got another delicious meal.
Go low and slow. Chuck roast, brisket, pork shoulder, and other similar cuts of meat are often less expensive because they are generally tougher and contain more fat. But these cuts are delicious when slow cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time. Try making one in a slow cooker for a tender, delicious main course.
With a little planning and creativity, you and your family can spend quality time together surrounded by great food, and at the same time feel good about that bottom line on your grocery receipt.