Five Must Have Ingredients (that save time and money)

All weeks seem busy but last week for some reason was hectic. Although I love to be in the kitchen, some days even I hate the thought of going in there to cook dinner. I’m gradually coming up with some shortcuts. I wasn’t thinking about saving money as I put them into practice but now I realize some can shave off a few pennies here and there-

Flavored Mashed Potatoes

When I make bangers and mash (that’s sausages and mashed potatoes in non Brit speak), I always like to serve caramelized onions on top of the potatoes. However, last week, the thought of peeling, slicing and then cooking onions had little appeal. So as I was mashing the potatoes and grabbed the pepper I spotted a good alternative…onion powder. About a tablespoon to one pound of potatoes added as you begin mashing them and you have a nasty side dish that’s saves both time and money.

Fire Roasted Tomatoes

While I do buy regular canned tomatoes for things like soups and sauces, my  preference is now for the fire-roasted variety. You can even get them with things like basil and garlic added. Yes, they cost more but when they’re on sale, stock up because they take any dish up a notch or two. My favorite quick recipe, salsa. No more cutting tomatoes, use these for a smoky salsa that is perfect with chips or piled on quesadillas.

Canned Peas

All the food trend articles I’ve been reading have one thing in common and that’s talk about pea protein. If you’re looking for a super quick side dish, canned peas can’t be beat. One variety I especially like is the Wild Oats brand at Walmart. They’re organic, have a great flavor and seem cheaper than any of the other organic lines.

Broccoli Slaw

I learned this short cut when broccoli was pricey, the frozen kind seemed to be all stalks and I opted to buy bags of the pre-made broccoli slaw. A great side dish…I even add blue cheese. However, last week I found another good use for it. Saute the mix in some oil, add lots of pepper, some salt and two or three good shakes of soy sauce and cook until the veggies are just wilting and turning brown. This makes a wonderful quick side dish and if you have any leftover, perfect in sandwiches.

Jam Tarts

My cooking teacher always made us make this treat if we had any leftover pastry. It’s the jam tart and it makes the ideal snack or even dessert. Line a muffin pan with pastry. I like to cook the pastry for a few minutes at around 350 degrees. Next add a couple of tablespoons of jam and put back in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until the pastry’s set and the jam is bubbling.


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