Using inexpensive ingredients

6 Steps to Cooking for Less

by Marianne Giullian


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We all need to eat, but we don't need to spend as much money as we do on food. Saving money at the grocery store can be done very easily. All you need to do is make a few changes in the ingredients you use. As a bonus, you may also find that you don't get hungry as quickly and have more energy than you used to.

  1. Choose hot cereal instead of cold cereal. Besides being cheaper, we have found that we don't get hungry as quickly as when we eat cold cereal. It only takes three to five minutes to prepare, and it is healthier because it doesn't have the artificial colorings or flavorings nor the preservatives that cold cereal has.
  2. Use less meat and more beans. I use 1/2 to 1/3 of the amount of meat called for in a recipe. Using less meat is healthier and still provides the good flavor. By changing to more recipes with beans, we eat better for less money and it keeps us full longer because beans are rich in fiber. Try substituting rice and refried beans instead of beef or chicken in your Mexican recipes.
  3. Use store brands. There is not a big taste difference between the store brand and the name brand of most staples. Try store brands. Some stores have an unconditional guarantee on their store brand products. If you like the store brand, you can save money. If you don't, then return it for a refund. Substitute powdered milk while cooking to save money.
  4. Cook from scratch. Most foods cost less if you make them yourself. We save hundreds of dollars by making our own bread, muffins, pancakes, waffles, pita bread, tortillas and biscuits. It doesn't take very much time to mix them up, and they taste so much better hot out of the oven or hot off the griddle. Stay away from processed foods. Even though they may be on sale, it may still be cheaper to make it yourself. Use recipes with less expensive ingredients. For example, make banana muffins instead of blueberry muffins, spaghetti instead of lasagna, or sugar cookies or snicker doodles instead of chocolate chip cookies.
  5. Plan your menu around produce that is in season. It is at its peak in freshness and is less expensive than other times of the year. Onions, carrots, potatoes and garlic are very inexpensive and are great to use in soups and stews. Take time to look at store ads and buy their bargains or loss leaders to save money.
  6. Eat proper portions. Many of us eat a banana or grapefruit without realizing that both are two servings of fruit. Find out what proper portions are and serve them. By doing so, it is easy to get all the proper portions in the different food groups each day without spending a lot of money. Start drinking water if you are not already. It is much better for you and is much cheaper than drinking juice or soda.

Food doesn't have to cost a lot to be nutritious and taste good. You don't have to compromise your health to save money. By using inexpensive ingredients, you can eat well and save at the same time.


Marianne Giullian is a mother of five children. She has a degree in Elementary Education and enjoys finding ways to save money.

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