Sunday, March 2, 2014

My Husband's Personal Chef: Six Tips to Cooking (from scratch) on a Budget

(This is the third post in a series on eating sugar and gluten free.)

Although cheaper than a shop at Whole Foods or continually eating out, even at fast food joints, cooking from scratch can still be expensive.  Especially where the sugar and gluten free recipes are exotic.

1. Easy Does It.
To cut down the cost of cooking from scratch, I will introduce one new recipe a week and gradually build up the foodstuff for more exotic foods. 

2. Ingredient Share.
I will also look for recipes to make in a week that share ingredients--for instance, if I buy a cabbage, I will make Chinese coleslaw and perhaps spring rolls or another salad using cabbage so that it is all used up.  Right now, I am cooking a lot with Gwenyth Paltro's "It's All Good" cookbook, and doubling up on the recipes calling for various kinds of mustard and parsley.

3. Plant a(n Herb) Garden.
Cooking from scratch tastes better when you buy fresh herbs.  These don't need to be expensive, but I would recommend planting and using your own herb garden so that you are not endlessly buying herbs week after week, only to have 1/2 of them go bad before being able to use them all.  (For the Normans out there, this can fulfill the whole "plant a garden" commandment, especially if you live in a teeny tiny space like us.)

4. Watch Expiration Dates.
I also stock up on meat as it goes on sale--even going bad within a day or two--and freeze it all upon arriving home.  It just means I need to cook it the day I defrost it.  No biggy.

5. Saturday Night Shopping
Another trick to spending less on groceries is to shop late on a Saturday night.  There is a risk that Morrison's might be out of crisps (chips for the Yanks), but you'll have meat and dairy discounted to pennies (and still good for freezing or using within a few days).

6. Ethnic Farmers Markets
Finally, I shop at farmers markets in neighborhoods in which I would not want to live.  In New York, it was the fruit and veg stall a few blocks away in Hell's Kitchen where everything was written or spoken in Spanish.  Here, it's Queen's Crescent, where many from the Middle East live and shop.  In California, it's probably your Latino or Asian supermarket.  Amazing (and unique!) produce, half the price of your local grocer.

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