Spending less than $5 a day per person for food is not an insurmountable challenge, especially with rice as a secret weapon. There are some times, however, that we get extremely sick of the wonder grain and have to mix it up just a little bit to make it palatable. Here’s another way to cut the price on what you’re eating.
Frugal Cook’s Secret #2: Fewer Ingredients
This is going to seem like a no brainer, but the fewer ingredients that you cook with, the lower the overall cost of the meal. The most frugal cooks out there (who make balanced meals for their families) go by the philosophy of one meat, one green thing, and one starch. Only limited spicing is necessary to make a reasonable meal.
You see, there’s a lot of recipes out there which call for a ton of ingredients, many of which are not necessary. You don’t necessarily need those sprigs of fresh cilantro to garnish, nor do you need the expensive mushrooms to go into the spaghetti sauce. Substitutions or outright omissions can occur without degrading the quality of the meal.
At the MWS household, we try to keep every meal under five ingredients, which still allows for a lot of play. There’s the meat (normally chicken), the vegetable (usually a canned thing), and rice (the super-powered wonder grain), and we’re satisfied. Put in a few spices (for this exercise, we consider ‘spices’ to be a single ingredient), and the meal is as good as done.
Recipe sites will often try to upsell their viewers on getting all the little things that make a meal, but those should be saved for those special occasions. For day to day eating, there’s nothing that beats a good old-fashioned meal of some meat, some starch, and some green thing.
Emily Hunter blogs at Million Ways to Save, where she looks for the best ways to save you money. Along with tips, she also offers ideas on making money, debt reduction, and making your lifestyle work.