The damage is done: you’ve overindulged, and there’s no going back. Well, maybe for your waistline, but your bank account is a real problem. Of course, some of the most effective ways to cut food costs are the hardest (eat and drink less; don’t go out so much), though not all are impossible (make it yourself instead of buying the packaged version; buy in bulk; substitute dried herbs and spices where possible).
But here’s a few more creative and hopefully more moderate things you can do in the kitchen to curb your spending and maintain more sustainable habits, along with some relatively low-cost recipe suggestions from the Paula Deen Test Kitchen:
1. Get organized! Make lists and plan your menus to incorporate leftovers and use up all perishable ingredients.
2. Seek out what’s local and in season - it’s a good habit for life. Produce can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be if it hasn’t been shipped from another hemisphere. Depending on your region, common cold weather crops include spinach, kale, winter lettuces, Brussels, broccoli, cauliflower, some onions, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, cabbage, and collards.
Stewed Collard Greens
4. Be selective with meats. Meat and dairy are often the more expensive ingredients, and let’s face it, eating more vegetables would probably be good for you right now too! But if you need your meat, try these cheaper options, keeping in mind that they might require marinades and longer cooking times for more flavorful, tender results. Get two meals out of one purchase by using chopped meat as a main dish over rice the next night. Also, it’s hard to say no to burgers or hotdogs, for which Paula has many recipes.
-From the cow, try grilled (or ground) chuck, flank or hangar steaks, tri tip, brisket, ribs, or oxtails:
Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
Michael’s Favorite Oxtails with Buttered Rice
-From the bird, which is often cheap unless you’re buying breast meat, try chick thighs or turkey parts:
Bobby’s Lighter Un-Fried Chicken
Chicken Brunswick Stew
Turkey and Black Bean Ziti
-From the pig, there’s always the porok shoulder, which can be transformed into all kinds of deliciousness including pulled pork and stews. And a little ham goes a long way:
BBQ Pork Sandwich
Ham Fried Rice with Pineapple and Fried Egg
Simple Southern Ham and Bean Soup
5. And lastly, casseroles can be good and last for days!