Here at Gatheredtable, we’re huge fans of home cooking from scratch! Once you ditch all the pre-packaged meals and ingredients, you’re cutting out a bunch of bad things from your life. Namely, yucky additives and preservatives, wasteful packaging, extra calories, and extra spending.
With our recent update to include recipe budget in your menu, we’re helping you save dollars at the market and in the kitchen.
When you’re first learning to cook, making everything from scratch can seem like a daunting task. But once you learn a few basic skills and stock your pantry, from-scratch cooking can save you a bundle. Here are three ways that cooking from scratch can save you money:
Buy Ingredients in Bulk
When you price out the cost of a bag of flour, dried beans or frozen vegetables, then think about how many meals you can make with those ingredients – it becomes clear that cooking your own meals can save you money. And once you know your basic pantry needs, you can buy-ahead when staples like canned tomatoes, rice or pasta go on sale. You can also buy-ahead meat and fish in larger, less expensive quantities to stock away in your freezer for future meals. See our list of 13 freezer-friendly staple ingredients.
Tip: Before you freeze fish, chicken or meat, portion it out into smaller freezer baggies (each with 1-2 lbs).
Cook for Many Meals at Once
Rather than make small batches of soup, pasta or salad, prepare a larger meal and set the leftovers aside. You can eat them for lunch another day, combine them with other ingredients for another meal later in the week, or freeze them for a quick dinner in the future. This not only saves you time (cook and clean once, eat twice!) but also helps to prevent food waste by using a full onion, full box of stock, etc. Or cook a whole roasted chicken or a larger cut of meat, then use the leftovers in another recipes later in the week.
Tip: You can adjust the number of servings for any recipe in your Gatheredtable library. (here’s how)
When you are cooking from recipes, you can easily make substitutions to use the ingredients you already have on-hand (or those on-sale at the market). Not only can this help you to use up any perishables in your fridge, but will save you money at the store that week by shopping the sales or pulling ingredients from your pantry or freezer.
Tip: Try substituting fresh or frozen leafy greens – swap spinach, arugula, kale or swiss chard – your recipe won’t mind!