We bring to you 5 easy-to-follow ideas to save money on food and still eat healthy and flavorful food. Put them to the test, we guarantee that the results will show at the end of the month.
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In times of crisis and financial woes (which may come at any or all times), we look for ways to spend less money on food. We bring to you some great money-saving ideas for feeding yourself or your family on a budget and still eating healthy and flavorful food. As a historically disadvantaged country, Dominican cuisine is full of home-cooked meals that satisfy, and don't break the bank, so we are experts of sorts on stretching food budgets.
If you ever asked yourself "what should I eat to save money?", or "How do I save money on groceries" I have these simple straight-forward ideas that will help you save money cooking at home and food-shopping on a budget.
Cooking Ideas to Save Money
1. Make a shopping list
Planning your meals for the week is where it all starts. Write down the week's menu and make a list of the ingredients that you will need. Do check that you don't have in your kitchen what you've listed before heading for the grocery shop, sometimes we forget what's in the cupboard. Don't go shopping when you're hungry and you will be more likely to stick to your shopping list.
Consider buying store-brand products. There's a lot of savings in doing that, and in my experience, there's often no difference between those and more expensive brands.
2. Buy bulk
Some items don't spoil with time. Those are worth buying bulk. Toiletries and some foods can be bought from distributors at a much lower price and stored. With prices changing you will be consuming today's meals at yesterday's price.
However, there is an exception: I prefer to make frequent trips to the grocery store to buy perishables (milk, cheeses, vegetables), as they don't last very long and are a huge source of food waste.
Food items and groceries that you can buy in bulk:
- Dry beans and pulses
- Canned goods
3. Do it yourself
Sure it's easier to use chicken broth or seasonings cubes, but try this: use our recipes (see list below) to make your own! Pour the liquid in an ice cube tray and refrigerate. It is healthier and much cheaper. Save money on food by learning how to prepare your favorite dishes and prepare them at home. Cooking at home is essential when on a budget: Leave eating out for special occasions!
Do it yourself cooking ideas to save money. Make your own:
- Chicken broth
- Homemade tomato sauce
- Seasoning and sofrito
- Rub / seasoning powder
- Savory peanut butter
- Spicy sauce / spicy vinegar
- Tasty homemade dip / salad dressing
You don' t need to start every meal from scratch. Use the leftovers to prepare or complete other meals for the week. Leftover meats and vegetables will make an excellent filling for a pastelón (casserole) or can be added to soups.
It's better to cook arroz blanco (white rice) in big batches and freeze every day's serving, which will save gas or electricity. The same goes for boiling dry beans and pulses. They freeze really well after cooked and is, in fact, something we've done at home forever, there's certainly no need to cook them from scratch.
Use vegetable "fillers" when cooking meat (eggplant, chayote), remember that a portion of meat is equivalent to the size of a deck of cards, much less than we usually eat.
Don't waste your money on freezer bags! Get a set of glass lidded containers, they have the extra advantages that you can use them for serving, and they are environmentally-friendly!
Dishes to reuse leftovers
- Reuse leftover rice to make this Yellow rice
- Make Minced beef with Vegetables and reuse the leftovers
- Use leftover rice to make Chofán (Fried Rice)
- Use leftover day-old bread in this Bread Pudding
- Make Bread "Flan" with leftover day-old bread
5. Eat well
Funny enough, the most expensive foods usually are the ones the doctors warn us about. Vegetables, good fats, and protein fill you up, are more nutritious and are generally cheaper than processed foods. Instead of a snack in a bag, why not eat an orange, or a boiled egg, or a slice of cheese, or a small portion of whatever leftovers you have?
Minding what we eat is even more important when feeding your children. Serve smaller portions, your waist will thank you. An extra advantage of eating good food: getting sick is really expensive! Save your money and sanity by eating the best food you can, and this does in no way mean "the most expensive".
Add years to your calendar and $ to your pockets.