budget talk

Ideal Foods for the Budget Savvy Cook

Just the other day I was talking to a friend and we got onto the topic of the ever increasing price of food and it got me thinking. Are there still bargains to be had at the supermarket? There are and here are my top picks-

Frozen and Canned Vegetables
The other week I bought a couple of bunches of spinach for a recipe I was making. Fresh spinach was on special, but after I’d spent 15 minutes trying to wash all the dirt and sand from the leaves, and after it cooked down to practically nothing, I vowed never to buy fresh spinach again. Frozen spinach is probably one of the best buys in the freezer section. Just think how many bunches of spinach you’d have to buy to equal that one box. You don’t have to clean it and it’s packed with good for your vitamins. The same goes for veggies like broccoli, no waste, no tough stalks. And right now, canned vegetables are on sale for the holidays. For the last month, my local supermarket’s been selling canned veggies, 3 cans for 99 cents. No washing, no peeling and no waste. I couldn’t beat that price in the produce department. And if you’re worried that frozen and canned vegetables aren’t as good as their fresh counterparts, don’t be. Most are packed at their peak of freshness and retain all their vitamins and minerals.

Eggs and Cheese
The price of most dairy products has gone up in the last year or so, but the word is in 2009 will start to see those prices decrease. Think about how many great dishes you can put together using eggs, cheese and yes, even milk. With meat and poultry prices set to increase next year, find some recipes using eggs and cheese instead.

Beans, Legumes…When it comes to the biggest bang for your buck, I don’t think you can beat beans and legumes. They aren’t that expensive to buy in cans, but if you buy them in bags and cook them in a slow cooker, you’ve shaved off even more pennies from the budget. And you can even add them to meat dishes to make the meal go even further. Beef and barley soup or casserole. Split pea or lentil soup. These dishes aren’t only inexpensive to make, they’re good for you too. They’re free of fat, or low fat, depending on what other ingredients you add to them. They’re full of fiber, something most of us don’t get enough of these days. The fiber feels you up faster so you don’t eat as much, which means your wallet gets fatter, but your waistline gets thinner.

I’m not talking about the ones you have delivered to your home, but the type you find in your supermarket freezer. I can’t remember a week that goes by when one brand of pizza isn’t on sale at the supermarket. Okay, they don’t always have a sale on the really fancy pizzas, but I often find the plain cheese pizzas are 3 for $9.99 so I’ll buy them, store them in the freezer and then add my own toppings.

Just like pizza, pasta and at least one brand of pasta sauce is always on sale. Both pasta and pasta sauce have long shelf lives so it pays to stock up. And just think how many dishes use some type of pasta. And just like beans and legumes, you can add it to meat dishes to help stretch your budget. Soups are great with some pasta added to them too. And pasta sauces also make ideal bases for homemade pizza.

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