|10 frugal cooking tips that sizzle
|By Leslie Hunt
If you cook, you're already saving money. That $10
to $20 you'd fork over for an entree can fund several homemade meals
for a single person or feed the whole family, depending on the size
of everyone's appetite. Kudos to you for getting more greens for
However, cooking can get expensive if you buy too
many kitchen gadgets, make poor grocery choices or panic shop for
each night's supper. Also, the recent price hike in everyday staples
such as milk and cereal means that smart, thrifty food shopping
is more important than ever.
We spoke with chefs, caterers and cookbook authors
for their insights on eating well without spending a lot.
We share their onion pearls of wisdom with you.
|Try these tips, and spend less
on the necessities.
Better grocery buys
Frugal cooking starts at the grocery store. Even if you use coupons,
you may not be saving on basic items such as vegetables and
1. Buy produce
You've probably heard before that buying produce that's in season
will taste better and cost less than produce shipped from Mexico.
"If you go out looking for really good tomatoes in January,
chances are you are going to pay for it," says Chris Turano,
executive chef at 1940s-style restaurant Dine, in Chicago. Finding
out what's in season isn't hard, he says. "Ask the produce
guy standing there."
The Food Network also lists seasonal fruits and vegetables
on its Web
dry spices and herbs whole.
When you can't buy fresh herbs and spices, Turano advises buying
them dry but whole. Whole spices, such as peppercorns and cinnamon
sticks, keep longer, retain flavor better and cost less, since
less labor goes into the production. Grind dry spices and herbs
when needed using a mortar and pestle. You can find these tools
online or in a discount chain store for around $20. He recommends
selecting a set with a rough texture, such as basalt lava rock,
which helps speed grinding.
Forget those year-old ground spices stored in your spice rack. After six months, using ground spices and herbs in your recipe is "like putting dirt on your food," says Denise Vivaldo, author of "Do it for Less! Parties" and founder of Food Fanatics, a Los Angeles-based catering firm. Buy herbs that you like in the smallest containers, she says.
3. Get dry
milk for use in recipes.
In the dairy department, fresh milk proves an expensive purchase
to make every other week. If you're only using it in recipes, opt
for dry milk, which keeps longer and costs less. Once reconstituted,
it can substitute for fresh milk, says Mary Webber, author of "The
Frugal Family's Kitchen Book." Buy the smallest quantity of
fresh milk for drinking and cereals.
4. Buy real
Cheese fans can get better quality cheese by buying it in bulk at
the deli when it's on sale. Depending on the type of cheese, the
cost could be about the same as processed cheese, but the taste
and thickness will trump the processed variety. Look for what's
on sale, and plan a meal around it.