Eating out brings certain benefits; someone else prepares the food for you and there are no greasy dishes for you to deal with. But, there are also some drawbacks; eating out is often expensive and not all that healthy. It is always a better option to prepare your meals at home, and there are ways to make your cooking both cost-efficient and healthier. With a little planning and several simple techniques, you will have a chance to cook like a chef, preparing cheap and healthy meals with ease.
Do Some Planning
You can easily sabotage yourself if you do not plan ahead, but don’t be afraid, planning meals for the whole week does not involve long shopping lists and complex spreadsheets. Try cooking homemade meals a couple of days a week and then plan to repurpose the leftovers into new meals, like reforming a leftover salmon into a salmon cake. If you are purchasing ingredients like herbs, consider how you can add them into other dishes during the week, so that you can eat them all before they go bad.
If you want to extend the life of your herbs you can wrap them in a paper towel or put them in a jar of water in the fridge. When you are going grocery shopping, divide your list into three categories, where you will list fruits and vegetables on the left side, rice and pastas in the middle and foods from the freezer section on the right. This way you will easily circle your way around the grocery store and won’t zigzag back and forth.
Opt For Double-Duty Foods
When you are browsing the shelves in the supermarket, aim to purchase foods that can be reused in several ways. For instance, instead of buying lettuce to add crunchiness and greens to your sandwiches, opt for spinach.
You may wonder why. Well, spinach is more versatile than lettuce; you can use it to top your sandwiches and cook it into a dinnertime side dish, mix it with stir-fry vegetables or add it to an omelet. And the extra lettuce will, on the other hand, just slowly turn to disgusting brown goop in your freezer.
Make a Room in Your Heart for Leftovers
Make a commitment of repurposing the meals you prepare into fresh dishes later in the week. For instance, make a homemade marinara sauce or taco filing on Monday. That same taco filling can be turned into a salad the next night and a nacho topping on the third night. Also, homemade pasta sauce can be used for making a pizza and then the next night be folded into lasagna.
Stock Up Your Pantry
Having several ingredients on hand will make it easy to prepare a good meal instead of hitting a fast food joint or overpay already prepared meals. Always have a carton of eggs in your fridge and if you mix them with frozen peas, rice, hot sauce and a couple of spices like cumin and curry powder, you can prepare a tasty fried rice dish in no time. Ingredients that last long time like potatoes, onions, shallots and lemons are good to always have on hand and the best part is that they can be used in many recipes.
Always keep canned beans in your pantry, because they can go into almost anything and are a great source of protein. The majority of these ingredients can be found on coupons and vouchers, so go online to find them and save a nice amount of money on your grocery shopping. Make sure to get enough frozen vegetables like corn and peas, because you will be able to easily integrate veggies into your meals without having to buy fresh ones all the time.
Even if, in some cases, it may seem like a pain to cook by yourself, you need to remember that the skills you learn by cooking regularly will rub off on your partner and your kids, and the best way to save some money in the kitchen is to learn how to cook.