It’s a new year and what better why to save cash than by eating restaurant quality meals at home? Sure, you can do it. With a little preparation and some creativity, you can make food that you enjoy and pocket the money as part of your resolution to save more this year. However, in order to get your creativity flowing, you need to have basic supplies on hand in order to pull off a tasty, yet economical meal.
If you dine out because you don’t know how to cook, then the first step in your budget meal plan is to invest in a simple cookbook that contains recipes that have few ingredients but yield familiar flavorful dishes. McCormick’s Cooking with Flavor provides a good foundation for anyone who does not feel comfortable in the kitchen. The recipes are homey and simple, featuring home-style favorites such as turkey pot pie, meatloaf, tacos, stove-top tamale pie and much more. There is even a section dedicated to desserts.
Since the cookbook is developed by the McCormick Test Kitchens, the recipes obviously feature a wide array of McCormick herbs and spices. For a novice cook, this is a great way to build a spice cabinet in addition to the prerequisite salt and pepper which is probably already in your pantry. As you gain confidence with your cooking ability, you may substitute other brands for McCormick (which is very quality), as you identify sales in at your favorite grocery store.
For the foodies, who can cook, but love to explore the world through different culinary experiences, challenge yourself to create these delights at home. You may have a few cookbooks in your kitchen (most foodies have multiples), however Better Homes and Gardens, New Cook Book, provides an encyclopedia-style reference for most food preparation. This is basic material that you can build upon, edit and redefine, especially if you know your way around a recipe.
Okay, now that you have your foundation material (recipes, either to follow or use to generate ideas), you need to have foodstuff in the refrigerator or freezer to pull it all together. Here are basic panty/refrigerator/freezer starter items that will always get a hot, delicious and budget-friendly meal on the table:
Quick Rising Yeast
Parmesan (stuff in the shaker)
Ground turkey (less expensive than beef)
Seafood (Tilapia/Flounder/frozen shrimp)
Others that you like
Half and Half
This is the starting point. We’ll make recipes using the initial pantry items however we will add to this over the coming months. As the ingredients increase, so will the flavors. Additionally, your bank account will increase as you begin stashing away all of the money that you’ll be saving by eating at home.
So get to the market now; we’re going to need items from the above starter list in order to make a dish later this week.