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 allrecipes.com 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.