Cooking from scratch – Not as hard as you think and the results are rewarding, delicious and frequently inexpensive
The first question you may be asking is, why are you pushing cooking from scratch? I thought this site was about grocery savings, not cooking.
Well, while it’s not an iron-clad rule, one of the best ways to save money is to cook from scratch – and it’s a lot healthier to boot. Sure, you can spend a ton of money buying truffles for your original “from-scratch” creation, but if you apply a little common sense, you can spend a lot less than you would buying processed foods.
Some of you may already be cooking from scratch and enjoy it, while others may think there is no way they can pull it off. Well, perhaps you can’t, but I’m willing to bet you actually can.
What exactly is cooking from scratch? The food network is becoming more and more popular and the on-air personalities conjure up some fantastic dishes. While they do make preparing them seem simple (and sometimes they are), the still might be a bit intimidating to the novice. Also, just because a recipe is difficult to put together, doesn’t mean it’s inexpensive or that it’s necessarily expensive. The trick is finding recipes which fall into your skill level and are economical – this is actually possible.
An easy way to get started is to search for some online recipes to try.
I will be posting a cooking basic skills, terminology and cooking tools posts in the near future as well as some recipes you can cook from scratch without spending a lot of money – stay tuned.
What the heck is cooking from scratch anyway?
What exactly is cooking from scratch? Good question. I guess that is really defined by the cook. I have an idea of what I consider cooking from scratch, but your idea is probably different as are the ideas of Emeril and Rachel Ray. I’ve heard a good rule of thumb for healthy cooking from scratch is to shop from the perimeter of your grocery store, staying out of the aisles. Now, you can’t realistically do that because you’d miss all of your baking supplies, condiments, spices…, but if you can limit your time in the aisles, you’ll know you are on your way to cooking from scratch.
I try to stay away from processed food as much as possible. However, we all use mayonnaise, tomato sauce, pasta,… in our cooking. Does it mean we aren’t cooking from scratch if we use these things? Absolutely not! You will define and decide what your “cooking from scratch” will be. It will probably change as your skills grow. For example, I used prepackage chili mix for many years. I just recently came up with a concoction of chilis and spices I can call my own. However, I still use Old Bay seafood seasoning in my crab cakes and Tony Chachere’s in my red beans and rice.
Chances are you are cooking some dishes “from scratch” now. If you are completely dependent on cooking with a pair of scissors (bags of processed food from the frozen department), fear not. I’ll include some starter recipes you can use to get you going. As your skills improve, you can move on to more complex dishes. I’ll also be posting some terms and techniques which will help you along.
If you are already an accomplished chef, great. Now all you have to do is organize yourself into money-saving mode and discipline yourself to stick with the program.
Do I have to cook all of my meals from scratch?
The short answer is heck no!
Cooking in this manner is part of the foundation of my strategy. You can make a casserole or Buffalo wings from scratch much less expensive (and healthier) than you can buy those items preprocessed from a grocery store. Does this mean you can never buy or consume prepackaged, processed food on my plan? Heck no! I love tater tots. They go great with a good hot dog and I make neither from scratch. There is a place for those things in my strategy. Look for them in my menu planning section.
What If I Want to Buy High-End Ingredients and Eat Like a King?
The great thing about my plan is it works for all grocery budgets. If you are in a Dave Ramsey get-out-of-dept plan, this plan will yield grocery savings for you. Likewise, if you are financially independent and have plenty of money to spend on gourmet foods, my plan will also work for you. After all, who wants to waste money regardless of how much you have? My plan is about organization and planning, so if you put lobster and steak on your menu three nights a week, following my plan will still save you money by avoiding unnecessary purchases, wasted (spoiled) food and unplanned take out nights. As well as working for these two extremes, my plan is effective for every budget in between.
Cooking From Scratch Resources
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