Learning how to cook on a budget can be made simple and easy with these five essential habits that can keep you cooking within your budget. For most people, the budget is definitely the tough part. What can make budgeting much easier is developing small habits that are sustainable and easy to stick with in your everyday life.
1. Learn to make a meal plan.
Planning meals and snacks ahead is essential. Having a mindful plan for your meals and your groceries is simple with a huge payoff. Once you have a plan, you will find yourself cooking smarter, and creating a more focused shopping list. Practice this method until you find it becoming a second nature for you, and virtually effortless.
2. Cook with what’s in season.
If you want to cook with certain fresh produce when it is not in season, it’s going to be pricier than when it’s in season, and it may not taste as good than if you stick with using in-season produce. It’s readily available and usually less expensive. (And “in season” does not just apply to produce, it could be other items as well.
3. Embrace chicken thighs (and other inexpensive meat).
Cooking on a budget does not mean that you need to cut meat out of your diet altogether; it just means you need to be smart about the cuts of meat that you buy. Even if you were not cooking on a budget, chicken thighs would still be at the very top of many peoples list. Whether you buy them skin-on or skinless, bone-in or boneless, chicken thighs are inexpensive, meaty, full of flavor, and really versatile. Other smart buys include meats for braising, like pork butt, where the investment of time makes inexpensive meat delicious. Please Keep in mind that a balance of different types of meats such as fish is advisable , along with a great balance of fresh fruit and vegetables daily.
4. Use the slow cooker.
When you try more inexpensive cuts of meat, the slow cooker is one of the greatest assets. Slow cookers have been one of the best kitchen tools to help many people embrace cooking on a budget. It’s ideal for cooking inexpensive, tougher cuts of meat, like bottom rounds and roasts. Cooking these cuts over low heat for a longer period of time transforms them from tough and chewy to tender and delicious.
5. Regularly cook down the pantry and freezer.
Right now, sitting in your pantry and freezer, you probably have the makings of more meals than you may realize. If you see utilize what you have in your freezer, you could probably go one week without grocery shopping. Cooking meals based on what we have handy will be a financial savior.
Challenge yourself by “eating down” your pantry and freezer regularly. If you can avoid spending as much money on groceries a week out of the month, that adds up to major savings. This strategy makes you appreciate what you have and rethink your shopping habits. When you’re faced with eating a bad purchase, there’s a good chance you’ll be more thoughtful the next time you go grocery shopping.
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