By Shira Boss
Zero Cost Kids
We all want to try new recipes, but complicated steps and expensive ingredients deter us.
There’s a better way, true to our overall mission here at Zero Cost Kids: Simplify!
Easier, Cheaper recipes!
1. Ignore unnecessary ingredients.
You can go without a lot of fresh herbs, rare spices, the sprinkling of freshly-grated parmesan on top. Sure, these give the dishes punch, but we’re all cooking for family, on a budget, so it’s best just to aim to get dinner on the table.
2. Skip unnecessary steps.
This could take some practice to discern, but often recipes give a perfect way to put the dish together when really, it can just be put together more straightforwardly.
Examples of Recipe Modifications:
Here are some examples from what I made just this week:
I changed to…
|Greek Tuna Pasta Salad (Prevention magazine)||Half a pound of tuna steak ($20 per pound!)||Two cans of skipjack tuna ($2 each!)|
|Raspberry Beet Soup (Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas)||Steam and peel two bunches of beets||Use two packages of precooked beets|
|Raspberry Beet Soup (con’d)||Strain the soup to remove raspberry seeds||Leave in the raspberry seeds!|
|Soup (any)||Use chicken or vegetable broth||Use water (I also make very simple broth in the pressure cooker with just onions, carrots and celery)|
|Pineapple Upside Down Muffins (Fitness Magazine)||Two cans of pineapple. Create the upside down layer of pineapple and crumbly goodies at the bottom of the muffin tin||One can of pineapple. No upside down layer – just make pineapple muffins straight up (delicious!)|
|Peanut Noodle Salad (101 Cookbooks)||Use rice vinegar and sesame oil||Use white wine vinegar and olive oil (less flavor for sure…but still tasty!)|
To Save Money:
1. Substitute common, less expensive ingredients
2. Streamline: Skip ingredients that aren’t at the heart of the dish (e.g. garnishes)
3. Double it: If you do buy an ingredient you’ll only use for this dish and are going to have more than you need, try to double the recipe and freeze one for later
4. Make a plan for leftover tidbits: When I end up with half a can of pumpkin, half a can of tomato paste, or half a carton of heavy cream, instead of popping the unused portion into the refrigerator “for later” (that too often means they end up getting thrown out!), I make a plan for them right then. The pumpkin will go into a smoothie, the tomato paste will be added as a layer to our grilled cheeses, the cream will become a special oatmeal topping.
To Save Time:
1. Streamline: look for unnecessary steps that are helpful for gourmets but not necessary for family cooking
2. Prepare: tackle some steps ahead of time, using bits of free time (e.g. prep the vegetables, measure out the spices, precook the grains)
3. Re-write: I’ve just started doing this and wow does it make a difference! I was spending so much time while cooking a new recipe wading through the instructions and trying to make sense of them. Now I go through the recipes ahead of time and jot down the basic instructions on the back of the index card I use on our menu board. It’s so much faster and easier to follow my own instructions!
I hope this helps you tackle some new recipes (or even old favorites) by making them cheaper and easier!
You can do this!