culinary review

How To Cook With Quality Inexpensive Ingredients

Last Modified: 02/07/12
First Published: 10/23/07
Views: 6177
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Views: 6177

If you are looking to save some money at the grocery store, there are plenty of good ingredients you can pick up that don't cost a lot of money and that can be used for so many different dishes.

Many times cheap food is the best food for you, just think about hearty farmers meals with lots of root fruits, vegetables and grains. It's not expensive to keep up with a healthy yet satisfying lifestyle.

Here is a list of affordable recipes you can make with these ingredients.

So what ingredients are generally cheap and cost-effective?

riceGrains (rice, oats, wheat berries, grits, quinoa...)
Hearty grains is a perfect addition to any meal and one of the cheapest ingredients you can find. Make nice hearty salads, put in soups, or serve as an accompaniment.

Pasta is the oldest trick in the book. Cheap and versatile, it can be used for so many things.

lentils Beans and lentils
Beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas are extremely cheap as well nutritious. There are so many different kinds to choose between, so you won't run out of options. Preferably buy them dry in bulk and cook them yourself in large batches and freeze, or buy canned ones.

Potatoes is a classic part of the farmer's diet. Buy a large bag in bulk and utilize it for a million different dishes.

Cabbage is usually quite cheap, yet it can be utilized for more things then people give it credit for. Nutritious and packed with vitamins, it's perfect to have on hand.

Fresh vegetables can be surprisingly expensive, especially if they're out of season. Canned vegetables, or frozen ones are usually a better alternative. An added benefit to canned and frozen vegetables are their nutrition content – since they are preserved or frozen at their peak, they are sometimes more nutritious then fresh vegetables.

onion_carrots_celeryOnions, Carrots & Celery
These vegetables are among the cheapest ones you can find, yet they work as a base for so many different dishes.

Canned Tomatoes
You can pick up canned tomatoes as well as canned tomatoe paste for very little money, yet they are perfect to have on hand to make soups, stews, tomato sauce and other dishes.

Bullion Cubes
Instead of buying individual containers of broth or stock for your dishes, pick up a few packs of bullion cubes instead. One pack will produce a lot of broth for a fraction of the cost of canned or packaged broth, and provide good flavor for your dishes as well.

To buy small packs of meat is always expensive. You're better off if you buy larger packs of any cut and clean and cut the meat yourself. That way you can buy one large piece, separate it into smaller cuts and freeze what you don't need right away. Ground beef is usually cheap as well, and also works nice to freeze in case you buy a large amount.

Chicken can be quite expensive if you go for the boneless chicken files. A better alternative, is to buy large packs of chicken thighs or chicken wings. They are usually much cheaper, and much tastier as well!

A large pack of good quality sausage does not have to be very expensive. An added benefit to sausage is that it's easy to freeze individual sausage links to have on hand. Even just a little bit of sausage can add a lot of flavor in a dish! The same goes for bacon. You can wrap individual bacon slices in foil and freeze, that way you always have some on hand when you need to flavor something.


Fresh fish is usually quite expensive, however canned or frozen fish can be quite reasonable. Look for canned salmon or canned tuna (can be used in casseroles or soups in addition to sandwiches). Frozen fish is sometimes of higher quality than fresh fish. The same goes for fish: if you can find a large pack and portion some out for another day you can usually make a better deal.

Eggs are wonderful: extremely cheap, versatile and healthy. You can eat eggs any time of the day and either make a meal out of it (omelet, egg sandwich) or eat a boiled egg with your cerial for breakfast.

Don't underestimate spices! When you are in the midst of your budget cooking with beans and rice and canned vegetables, some good flavor might be just what you're looking for. Try to find a grocery store that sells spices in bulk. That way, you can pick up just enough to last for a little while and your spices won't go dull.

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