Friday, June 21, 2013

Money Saving Cooking Tips... & Taco Salad

Taco Salad is a favorite in our house (taco anything really...), and as I was making it for dinner tonight I thought about what a inexpensive meal it is to make for how tasty it is. Sure, you can put in some bells and whistles like an avocado or a shell, and that can be more expensive, but mostly it can be made by things you already have in the fridge.
Then I was inspired and I thought, maybe I should share some tips for thrifty cooking with the other bloggies who love this stuff as much as I do; so here's the money saving scoop. Hope you get some ideas.

1. When you buy a cut of meat, plan to use it for 2-3 dinners.

Beef is something that doesn't frequent our house because it can be spendy. However, when I get creative with the meal plan, it actually works out just fine.
Here I bought a $9 tri-tip roast, trimmed off the fat, and then cut the meat 3 ways:
1. I put 1/2 of the roast (unsliced) in a bag of marinade & stuck it in the freezer for future grilling.
2. Asada style for Taco Salad
3.Cubed for Chili con Carne

2 1/2 pounds of meat making 3 dinners for 3 people is a pretty good deal.

2. Save your scraps.

As tempting as it can be to just chuck the little bit of veggies, grains, or whatever else you have leftover from your meals, saving them can be worth your time.

For example, bell peppers are not a hot item in our house, but I do cook with them to add flavor to dishes. This pepper has been used for deep dish pizza, kebabs, spaghetti sauce, and now for our salads tonight. I keep taking thin slices from it and it lasts a long time! You can add flavor & substance to soup, salad & lots of things from scraps.

3. Make a little extra for tomorrow.

We had a rice dish last night, and so I made a little extra for our salad tonight. When you plan ahead making extra can save you time, trouble, and cash. However if you don't plan meals or use leftovers, skip this step because you will waste food & end up with science projects in your fridge.

4. Buy the ready to go stuff.

What?!?! That saves you money?? Yes, BUT ONLY IF you make a pact with yourself to use that pre-shredded cheese for 5 meals. That means using it as a flavor/texture perk, not the main event of the meal. In my personal experience, I always shred way too much off my block of cheese and I find that I use less when sprinkling on some of the pre-done stuff. If you are a non-excessive cheese user, I salute you, and you probably should stick with shredding your own.

5. Have the kids eat what you eat.

This could be a whole post unto itself, but for the sake of staying on topic, I will only say that different meals for everyone means more $ in the cart on grocery day. Sadly, I didn't get a pic of Baby N's plate before she ate it, but she did try almost everything that we had on the salad. She wasn't nuts over the bell pepper, but at least she tried it!