When I moved overseas, I learned more than a foreign language, how to drive on the other side of the road, and how to avoid using my left hand. I learned how to cook. From scratch. With limited ingredients. On a tight budget. I still can't believe how far I've come.
But don't worry. You don't have to move halfway around the world to figure this out for yourself. Today I'm revealing my 10 best tips for saving money and calories in the kitchen. (Drum roll please.)
1. Save your vegetable scraps in the freezer. When you need some chicken broth to make soup or some other meal, boil up all your scraps, add some seasoning, and you have a version cheaper and healthier than the canned chicken broth from the store.
2. Use healthier, usually cheaper meats like chicken and fish, and season them with spices that make it taste rich. My favorite seasoning is Penzey’s Italian Sausage seasoning, which I use often with chicken in pastas, pizzas, soups, etc. Sklp the fattier meats without missing the taste.
3. Use lots of fruit, and lots of local fruit in your diet. The local, in-season fruits will always be cheaper and fresher.
4. Two tricks to cream up soup without adding unhealthy and expensive creams? Take a portion of your soup and put it in the blender, then add it back in. Or add ground-up oatmeal to add a creamier flavor.
5. Use everything. I buy my chicken at a local market, still on the bone. I cut off the meat, then boil the bones. I can then easily pull off the remaining meat and use it on salads, in soups, in wraps, etc. I save the broth to use in soups. Then I feed the bones to my cats.
6. When making cookies, bake only the number of cookies you plan to eat at that sitting. Freeze the rest of the dough. This keeps you from snacking on the dessert all day, and makes for an already made, freshly warm treat for another day.
7. Make your own sauces. Sauces aren’t all that difficult to make if you have a recipe (and really easy to find online). The canned sauces can be expensive and full of preservatives and sodium. I routinely make my own tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes my white sauce from skimmed milk, oatmeal flour and butter, and honey-mustard sauces for fish.
8. Stop buying drinks. Juices, sodas, bottled teas and coffees are expensive and full of calories. Learn to enjoy a slightly sweetened cup of tea or coffee in the morning, and rely on water for most of the other meals.
9. Use meats sparingly and supplement your dishes with beans, lentils and barley. They are healthy, cheap and do well at taking on the flavor of your dish, and stretching your other more expensive ingredients to feed a family.
10. Is your fruit going bad? Freeze fruits like blackened bananas, mushy apples and sour mangoes to use in bread, or even in cookies.
photo credit, slightly everything