Cooking from scratch is a great way to reduce your overall food bill. Eating out can cost three or four times as much as cooking at home, on average. Faced with the reality of the savings, why don’t we all cook more and eat out less?
Well, one of the main reasons is that the idea of cooking every meal at home when our lives are so busy can seem daunting. Guess what, though? Eating at home can actually be less time consuming than going out in many cases. Plus, if you follow the following advice, you will see that cooking from scratch can be very easy to do; no fuss cooking.
1. Cheat a Little
Cooking from scratch does not need to mean that every single ingredient is crafted in artisan form. Go ahead and use refrigerated biscuits, frozen vegetables, prepared sauces and dressings, frozen meatballs or whatever happens to be on sale. You will still save a lot of money, as well as time.
2. Keep Basic Ingredients on Hand
Having a pantry of basic ingredients on hand will make it easy to cook dozens and dozens of meals without having to go out to the store. Stock up with the fixings for your family favorites, and you may find that you use them in new ways. Some pantry basics might include pasta, rice, broth, frozen vegetables, herbs and spices, onions and garlic, frozen chicken breasts (boneless and skinless), ground turkey or beef, olive oil, pasta sauce, shredded cheese, beans, carrots, butter, sugar, flour, milk, bread and eggs.
3. Cook for Two
Two families, I mean. When you prepare dinner, double the recipe and freeze the extra meal to use during a busy weeknight or when you just don’t feel like cooking. Most foods freeze well, but here is a list of ones are especially nice: Lasagna and other baked pasta dishes, pot pies and casseroles, mashed potatoes, enchiladas and burritos, pork chops, chowders and soups, meatloaf, calzones and pizza and sloppy joe filling.
4. Prep the Night Before
Do your dinner prep work the evening before and place it in your fridge for the next day. This cuts down on the time needed to cook during the “crazy” part of the day, so the task isn’t as daunting. If you have a crockpot, this works especially well. All you will need to do is to remove the crock from the fridge, place it in the heating unit and turn it on. Dinner will cook itself and be hot and ready for dinnertime.
5. Have a List of Quick Go-To Recipes
Keep a book for recipes that require no more than 15 minutes of preparation using basic ingredients. This list will be invaluable when plans change, you have had a tough day, or you just need to get something on the table quickly. With the list and the corresponding recipes, you can still prepare dinner even when you are tired and out of time.
6. Be Creative Not Perfect
There is nothing wrong with heating up some chicken nuggets and wrapping them in flour tortillas with lettuce, cheese and sour cream and then calling it dinner. It is probably a bit healthier than the fast food versions, at least, and definitely cheaper. As long as your meals are basically balanced, cut yourself some slack. Get creative with what you have on hand and make it work. Every meal does not have to be elaborate and gourmet, just cost effective.