I love to cook and bake, so I'm always looking for new recipes, especially ones that can feed the family on a budget. I've been thinking about things I can do to be more efficient, and get the most for my grocery money, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it as well! Here are a few things I try to do, or that I've found in my experience:
1. Garden! I really miss my garden at our old house (we moved recently), and can't wait to get one going at our new house! The produce is healthier, tastes better, and is definitely cheaper. I love cooking with fruits and vegetables that are in season- so much yummier! Don't forget the herbs- super easy to grow, and so much less expensive. Do you garden? What do you like to grow? Do you can or freeze produce from your garden?
2. Cooking/baking from scratch. I know this isn't necessarily for everyone, but I try to make as much of our food from scratch as possible. It's yummy, it's healthy, and it's fun to get the kids involved (DD is 3 and LOVES to help me cook). My mom always made everything from scratch, so I enjoy carrying on that tradition and the family recipes. Not to mention that I don't think there's anything better than homemade bread! If anyone wants to share recipes, let me know!
3. Stretching the ingredients. I think some of my most frugal (and healthy) recipes involve shredded chicken, or something along those lines. There's one recipe I make that uses shredded chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and chicken taco seasoning. DH and I eat it in a tortilla, DD likes it minus the tortilla. Shredding the chicken and mixing it with the other (inexpensive) ingredients means that I can feed our family with less chicken than if I had just made chicken breasts, and the beans are an inexpensive protein to add in there. Ground beef or ground turkey in a recipe like chili or shepherd's pie is basically the same idea. I'm trying to find more recipes like this, so please share if you have some!
4. Meal planning around ingredients. I have not been doing the best job with this lately, so I'm really trying to be better. Basically, what I try to do is plan my meals around what is on sale, and then come up with enough ways to use those ingredients so that nothing goes to waste. This goes for finding creative ways to use leftovers so that they don't go to waste as well. When I take the time to thoughtfully meal plan I can do a good job with this, but with the new baby I've been slacking. Any tips? Do you organize your recipes in a way (such as by ingredient) that helps?
5. Making meals ahead. I mentioned this on another thread, but when I find certain ingredients on sale (ground beef, chicken, etc.) I will buy a lot of it and make meals for the freezer. I've found that if I do that, I don't waste it (otherwise I've been known to buy ground beef on sale, stick it in the freezer and forget about it) and I have meals ready to go on nights when I don't have time, or don't feel like cooking. I made a lot of meals to freeze before the baby was born, and now I'm so happy I did!
Anyway, these are all things I've been thinking about lately. I'd love to hear your thoughts on them, and any other tips or recipes you want to share!