How cooking at home can reduce your grocery bill

Home Cooking

by R. Kellogg


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In general, food that is more processed will cost more money at the grocery store. Thus, typically you would pay less for the raw ingredients to create bread than you would for bread. Sales and couponing can help you save money on baked goods, but knowing how to cook a few things from scratch can be of value when sales aren't the greatest or you hit a time when you must minimize household spending.

In this article, we will look at a few simple things you can learn to make from raw ingredients to save money off your grocery bill.

Bread

Bread is very easy to bake. It does take some time and you might allow yourself a batch or two to get the process down. Before starting, you will need a bread bowl, a mixing spoon, at least two loaf pans, a good bread recipe and the list of ingredients for your recipe.

Many good recipes are available. To find some basic variations, do a search for "bread" at www.foodnetwork.com. Two excellent places to look for recipes are the library and the Internet. At the library, look for James Beard cookbooks to learn the secrets of bread baking. Beard is considered a master of the art. Libraries can also stock excellent bread recipes at a range of difficulty levels. For greater search ability, try looking online. Check out foodnetwork.com and www.verybestbaking.com for a collection of recipes. I enjoy the display at foodnetwork.com; the site is easy to navigate and allows the recipes to be sorted by user ranking or by difficulty level. With this system, it is very simple to start with something easy and confidence-building and work your way up to something more difficult.

On the day you are planning to bake bread, start the process early. Be sure to schedule yourself to be home for a few hours during the intermediate prep time. Cooking bread involves a lot of rising time. The preparations will not take long, but you will need to be available to mix, knead, and move pans into and out of the oven. Some people find bread-baking soothing. And the smell of baking bread is delicious!

Pizza

Pizza starts with a bread recipe! There are a variety of good recipes for crusts out there; read around and find one that you like. Surf to www.flyingpie.com/booklet2.htm to find one with a lot of personality that a pizza restaurant posted online. Pizza is a great dish to know how to make. You will need ingredients for a crust, tomato sauce or tomatoes you can puree to spread for a sauce, and then you can add whatever you like for toppings. Remember to pat dry excess water from toppings such as pineapple and olives before adding. This will help keep the pizza from getting too watery. If you are creative, many different things could become toppings. Try using leftover chicken and cheese or going simply with sliced ham and onions. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you like.

Soups

Pre-made soups can be costly and not exciting to eat. Homemade soup is so easy to make. You can purchase or make your own soup stock (broth) and then add any or all of the following ingredients and simmer until tender to make a great soup: rice, celery, onions, carrots, diced chicken, diced potatoes, corn, and herbs. The best part about homemade soup is that it tastes even better on the second day! Remember to refrigerate uneaten portions of your soup within an hour of removing from the heat!

Breakfast Cereal

When I was a college student and breakfast cereal was a stretch for my budget, I would make homemade granola. It was cheap, easy, and one batch could last for a few weeks! My favorite granola recipes come from foodnetwork.com. To keep it healthy, remember that the less nuts are cooked the better they are for you. It might be better to add the nuts after you've cooked the rest of the ingredients. A simple granola can be made with oats, syrup, oil, and your choice or combination of nuts, raisins, sesame seeds, or coconut. Homemade granola is filling and delicious!

Remember to store your homemade foods in a manner that will keep them fresh the longest. Homemade breads or granola can be stored in an airtight container or in a zip-top bag.

These are just a few food ideas to start with; browse the cookbooks and baking web sites and find some new exciting ideas of your very own.

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