I have always hated cooking and spent as little time in the kitchen as possible. Virtually all our meals were processed concoctions that came in a box or in frozen form that I just had to heat and serve. Not only is this an unhealthy way to eat but it’s also very expensive.
I had to get away from convenience foods and learn how to make homemade meals that were cheap, healthy and filling. I’m still learning but so far cooking from scratch has saved me big money! Here’s a few simple points to remember when you’re starting out:
Simplicity: You don’t need to prepare elaborate meals-simple can be the most filling. I try to stick to recipes that have five or less ingredients; Recipezaar.com has a great search option that narrows down recipes based on simplicity.
Go Meatless: I’ve cut down our meat consumption since it’s one of my biggest grocery expenses. We have one or two meatless meals every week and the savings adds up fast. Meatless sandwiches and soups are filling meals that can be very cheap to prepare.
Take Breakfast out of the Morning: many breakfast foods are cheap and I’ve started incorporating them into our dinners. Pancakes, waffles, and french toast are meals we eat on a regular basis. Quiche and other egg dishes can also be inexpensive. We usually have one breakfast meal for dinner each week.
Spice It Up: I uses spices in almost every meal I make; they are inexpensive and can make a simple, frugal meal into something amazing! You can also use spices to create parts of your meal like homemade taco seasoning, pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce!
Try New Things: this has been the biggest challenge for me. My husband is very picky when it comes to food and for years I let his food habits dictate how I shopped and cooked. Now I try to incorporate one new recipe into my weekly menu. I’m slowly weaning my husband off of his pickiness and am instilling variety into my kids diets. There’s a great $5 meal thread in the Kitchen Forum here on Diaper Swappers that I get a lot of my recipes from. Another great resource is a site called $5 Meals and has a wide variety of cheap and easy recipes.
Here’s a new recipe I tried this week and it was a huge hit!! I did add real bacon bits to the top, after pulling it from the oven to give it some kick :) Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Bake
Even if you have always avoided your kitchen, give cooking another try and you might be surprised and how fun it can be! You’ll also be amazed at how cooking can save you money!