March Monthly Mouthful

Times are tough these days. It seems that everyone has been affected by the current economic recession in some way. Of course, one of the biggest day-to-day expenses comes from our own kitchens and food consumption. We could all stand to save a little money, especially in the kitchen, so this month we looked to some of our favorite food bloggers for help. We asked: “With the current global recession, are you cutting costs in the kitchen? Please share your budget cooking tips!”

Our foodie friends came up with tons of tips to help us all save a little money in the kitchen without sacrificing quality ingredients! And here they are…

Michelle from Greedy Gourmet:

So far we haven’t made any cuts but with that said we never eat out or get take-aways (food in the area is notoriously bad) which makes life considerably cheaper. If hubby should lose his job (let’s hope not), I’ll have to get creative with minced beef and cook more vegetarian meals than usual. All luxuries will fly out of the window, like fillet steak, Ben & Jerry’s, you get the picture. Let’s stay positive now, shall we?

Rita from Clumbsy Cookie:

That was a concern I had already before all this recession-crisis thing started. But one of the things I find myself doing lately is trying to puzzle cake pans into the oven, so I can fit more in at the same time and save a bit on electricity.

Ruth from Once Upon A Feast:

I guess it would be an obvious answer for me…pasta! After all, Presto Pasta Nights has a lot of fans because it’s easy to prepare, economical and can make magic of leftovers. Nothing stretches your budget like cooking with pasta and there are so many healthful options these days too. I always see what the grocery store has on special – meat, chicken, fish and try to buy in bulk and separate into 1-2 person portions and freeze. One chicken breast with a side of veggies would normally serve one person. Dice the chicken and veggies, toss with some olive oil and some herbs…dinner for 4 if you use 2 cups of dried pasta. Any leftovers…beat 4 eggs, saute some leftovers in a little oil in an oven proof skillet…and voila …a frittata.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Anne-Marie from This Mama Cooks:

I’m always trying to cut costs in the kitchen, from shopping sales to only using the oven when I can cook several dishes at once. I also shop smarter, using the grocery store flier to shop sales and stock up. I also use coupons I cut out of the newspaper or print out from manufacturer’s websites. One great find is a local discount “dinged can” grocery store where I find amazing deals on organic food items like soup, pasta and cereal. I’ve also taken advantage of “manager discounts” where the store managers slash prices on just about to expire meat, bread, and milk items. You just need to either freeze the items or use them within a few days.

Karen from The Rambling Spoon:

My husband and I spend half the year working in Asia. I haven’t set foot in our kitchen since September, so I haven’t had any kitchen bills in recent months. But I’ve always been frugal in the kitchen. I shop first at the local Mexican and farmers’ markets, produce stands and nearby farms. I avoid supermarkets where the prices are higher and the foods less fresh. I buy almost no processed foods. I grow my own herbs, and I’ll expand the garden this summer. We eat a lot of Asian dishes that focus on vegetables (cheaper than meat). We buy beans, grains and flours in bulk (cheaper and less packaging). I can’t eat wheat (bread costs a lot anyway). And in New Mexico, we’re fortunate to have fresh tortillas available by the stack for $1 or $2. Some of the world’s best, freshest, most nutritional foods are the cheapest. They might take a little longer to prepare. But they taste better than anything in a plastic bag or cardboard box.

Kristen from Food Renegade:

We are always looking for ways to cut our food budget without sacrificing on quality ingredients. For us, this translates into making more things from scratch (like salad dressings and condiments) and bulk buys from local farmers and ranchers. We, for example, buy a side of grass-fed and finished beef late every spring for around $2.89/lb. Buying it as we go would cost us at least $5/lb (possibly more for those nicer cuts of meat). We also make bulk buys on pastured chickens. And joining a CSA or farm-share to get fresh vegetables may SOUND expensive, but when you realize just how much food you get, it’s generally well worth it.

Cate from Sweetnicks:

For me, it’s not about cutting costs in the kitchen, because the very act of being in the kitchen, as opposed to eating out, is generally a cost-cutting measure base case. Add to that the extra family time and immeasurable lessons you can teach your children, it’s win-win-win.

Lydia from The Perfect Pantry:

The main way we’re cutting costs is to reduce our food waste by buying less and using everything, not letting food spoil or get forgotten in the back of the fridge. We’re buying local, supporting our farmers, and paying full price — but wasting not a drop of what we buy. We’re planning to expand our garden this summer, too, by adding some tomato and lettuce plants. And I’ve cancelled almost all of my subscriptions to cooking magazines, to save money and to save paper.

Christie from Fig and Cherry:

Cook once, eat thrice! That’s my motto. For example, roast a whole organic chicken and eat the legs for dinner, then shred the breast meat and use in a sandwich, stir fry or pasta dish and lastly boil the bones to make a delicious home made stock. It’s easy to be frugal with a little fresh produce and a lot of imagination :)

Nicole from For The Love of Food:

To be honest, I have not had to cut any corners or make any budgetary changes in my kitchen so far. I’d like to think of myself as a frugal person in general and recession or no recession I stay true to my ways of cooking.

And, I’d be happy to share with you many of my money-saving tips that I have used over the years. [Editor's Note: See our guest post with helpful money saving tips from Nicole by clicking here!]

I am also happy to make myself available via email to anyone who’d like personal help cutting their kitchen budget, planning their garden, making the move to homemade foods, etc. E-mail me at: myamii [at] rezimo [dot] com.

As always, thanks to everyone who participated! If you were not contacted for this month’s Monthly Mouthful and would like to be included in future Monthly Mouthfuls, please e-mail us at chewonthatblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Add your own budget kitchen tips in the comments below!

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  • Christie @ Fig & Cherry

    Some fantastic answers! Lydia, I’ve been consciously buying less and not letting it go to waste either! :)

  • clumbsycookie

    Great tips everyone!

  • maggie (p&c)

    Like many other folks, I’m a bit more conscious of my budget right now (no raise in the near future!) Trying a lot of great vegetarian recipes, and generally enjoying finally using ingredients I’ve stocked in my pantry.

  • Heather

    Since I grew up poor, I’m always stingy. I save bones in my freezer for stock and grow vegetables. Helps a lot, even when I don’t need to worry about food costs (food tastes better that way anyway).

  • Sautemaster

    We are shopping the sales at the local restaurant supply store. Just as you would clip coupons at home and stock up. By stocking up on items with a long shelf life while the price is low, you can save a tremendous amount of expense over a year. Even in a tough economy, you may be able to come out more profitable than last year if you shop as wisely as you would if you were shopping for home.

  • Tilapia Recipes

    you churn out content that i can't keep up haha!

  • helen

    IMO, home cooking has always been better and more affordable than eating out. I'm fortunate to have friends who love to cook as well, and between my kitchen and theirs, there's no shortage of good meals and good times.

  • Timeless Gourmet

    I'm cooking fresh pork shoulder more often. It's so economical, ($8 for an 8 lb. bone-in) and the meals I can make from the leftover roast seem endless. Pork lends itself to so many flavor variations – and the bone makes absolutely fantastic soups!

  • Doreen

    I’m making my own bread using the recipes from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Great bread and saves me lots of money as bread seems to just keep going up in price.

  • coffeelover

    I would agree about buying meat in bulk and seperating it in smaller packages, it definitly saves a lot of money. If you must use a box pasta product or meal then try to match the pasta and add a little more to the mix and it will go a lot farther but not add to much or it will not be as good. From scratch is best but sometimes time is not an option. I appreciate all of the good advise.

  • Healthmind

    I’ve cut my costs back by eating less in the kitchen. How I did it was I actually started buying vegetables at a cheep store and taking Acai Chews health supplements. When I’m hungry during the day I eat my vegetables or Acai Chews. At dinner I have been filling my plate with more vegetables. It’s amazing how much more I can get at the grocery store lately. Shop the adds, take a Health supplement like Acai chews or whatever works for you, and fill your plate with vegetables.

  • seacook

    dumpstering is something that most people frown upon, but in addition to growing my own food and buying locally (Farmers market local Co-op ect.) i find that many foods that are still useful are disregarded in dumpsters, I have cooked on boats, and been to culinary school and i find that in the pursuit of an excellent food experience many times the “food” is forgotten, I love a good presentation and the “highest quality ingredients” but a meal that is nourishing and healthy can do wonders. All the ingredients for these meals are often thrown away, most likely in your own hometown, I challenge you to be brave and go out and find it.

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