Cooking on a Budget

When I started this project, the word “budget” was not in my vocabulary when it came to cooking for family and friends.  Most days I am just cooking for myself and when it comes to dinner it could be anything from fresh roasted vegetables from the local farmers market to top ramen.  But if I was cooking a dinner for friends or family the menu would usually become extravagent and expensive. 

When asked to do this recipe makeover project on a budget I excitedly accepted the challenge!! Let me tell you I learned a lot.  With a little planning ahead and making good use of the weekly local grocers sale flyers I could really save a ton of money without sacrificing the quality and taste of most downloaded recipes.  As I worked my way through the stack of recipes my biggest challenge was breaking down the most simple of the recipes that called for minimal ingredients.  By leaving out the cans of condensed soups and pre-packaged soup mixes and replacing them with fresh vegetables and stocks and seasonings I was able to save money as well as prepare dishes that contained less preservatives and sodium.  Sure it takes a bit more prep time to make a meal, but we are talking an extra 10 to 15 minutes.  In my book that is well worth the extra effort.  When it came to the baking recipes I found that reducing the amount of sugar benifited the pocket-book as well as the waist-line.  I also used a lot of store-brand products, some store-brand products better than others, but after some taste testing I narrowed down the ones I would use again.

Over all this project taught me to be more conscious of the money I spend every month on my grocery bills. I can still make a fabulous meal without spending big bucks.  Take a few extra minutes out of your week to think about your grocery needs for the week, shop the local flyers, buy in bulk and freeze smaller portions (just don't forget what you have in the freezer as I often do) and be creative.  I was able to prepare 100 recipes for everthing from breakfast, entrees, appetizers and desserts serving anywhere from 4-10 people for less than $1,000.00.  If  I can be converted to a budget friendly chef….you can do it too.


  • carrcarr

    Wow! I went to your Recipe Box and it's a treasure!nn you! :-)

  • Cindy in Pensacola
    Cindy in Pensacola

    Wow, this is fantastic. Thank you so much for posting the link to her recipe box also. I think this would be a big help to all those budget minded chefs (including me!)

  • dinnercoach

    How long did it take you to convert those recipes to budget ones? I'm writing freezer recipes, but have not posted them yet. I have about 50 tested recipes and am not sure if I should add them to Allrecipes or not. Curious.

  • Alma Earnest
    Alma Earnest

    Mmmh, mmh, mmh! I just read some of your recipes and I already have plans for the rest of the week! I'll start off with Parmessan Tilapia steaks! Thank you!

  • riverl

    I like the concept, I always cook for a friends or my wife and me, so ever look for the price of the product. But now I am cooking for a bunch of ski patrollers with a budget of 50 to 60 dollars. They eat a lot and I think that is where the challenge is. I will take the advantage of all the experience of this site.

  • ScrappySusan

    Just read through your recipes and have a couple of comments… It would be nice to get a costing per serving on your recipes. I know prices are different throught the country but it would help.n Also what is in your "pumpkin spice" blend that is in some of the baking recipes. You also mentioned purchasing a 5# block of cheese and grating it your self. Did you do a cost per cup when you did this.. Thx from Ont Canada

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