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Category: Kitchen: Frugal Tips

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Gourmet Cooking on a Shoestring

(Budget, that is…)

by Char Gietz

You’re fed up with Ramen noodles and Peanut Butter.  Eating “breakfast for dinner” just doesn’t cut it anymore.  You’re ready for some real food, but don’t have the cash to splurge on gourmet.
Well, believe it or not but gourmet does not have to mean “expensive”.  Using a few consumer-savvy tips can really cut down on your grocery bill and let you create some tasty dinners on a shoestring budget.  All you need is a little creativity!

  • First off, look at your meat choices.  Obviously chicken and some cuts of beef are going to be cheaper than, say, shrimp and swordfish.  If you can, cook with cheaper cuts of meat.
  • Utilize your local farmer’s market for fresh produce.  Buying directly from the growers will save you money versus buying it from your grocer.
  • Ethnic grocery stores usually have lower priced produce and goods than their American counterparts.  Shop these little markets, getting to know their goods, and you’ll save when you need ethnic specific items.  Also, if you’re lucky enough to live near an Aldi or Trader Joe’s market, check them out.  You can’t get much cheaper than those two!
  • Know where to splurge and where you can scrape by with a knock off brand.  This will take some research, depending on which recipe you’re using.  A good example is olive oil.  In many chef’s opinions, it’s worth it to spend extra here and go cheaper on, say, the rice.  Especially in recipes where the olive oil will be prominent, you’ll really taste the difference in quality.
  • Also, think about what “gourmet” means to you.  If it means buying the very finest ingredients (organic hens, extra-extra virgin olive oil, ect.) then you’re probably going to have to pay extra for them.  If, however, gourmet means trying a new, exotic Indian dish, then head over to the local Indian market and pick up the ingredients.  
And lastly, learn to think outside the box!  If you equate “gourmet” with “trying something new”, then it’s easy to shop on a budget.  Pick up a good cookbook to give you some great ideas.


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