Some ingredients are incredibly versatile and can be worked into several different meals in your menu plan. When trying to cut your grocery bill, looking for the staples that will give you the best value is key.
Certain grains, vegetables, legumes and other ingredients can be used in multiple recipes, cutting down the number of foods you have to stockpile in your pantry!
Below is a list of the top frugal staples which cost pennies compared to the expensive processed foods and prepared meals you will find at the grocery store.
Top 8 Frugal Cooking Ingredients
1. Rice. Large quantities require adequate storage, so make sure you have the room to store it and air-tight, food quality storage containers.
Even if you are buying smaller bags at the grocery store, rice is a very inexpensive and versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into your menu. Plus, you’re adding healthy whole grains to your diet!
2. Dried Beans. Dried beans are inexpensive and versatile. Chili is easy to make and delicious! It also freezes well for leftovers. Use pintos to make Bean Soup, cook lentils in with your soups and roasts. Use red and black beans in Mexican dishes.
3. Pasta. Cheap, versatile… do I keep saying the same thing over and over again?! All different shapes and sizes of pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, lasagna) combined with different frugal homemade pasta sauces (alfredo, marinara, cheese) ensure that your family will not get tired of this frugal favorite!
4. Oatmeal. Oatmeal is perfect for breakfast, the price can’t be lower and the health benefits can’t be greater! Slip this ingredient into homemade breads and cookies as well. Stretch your ground beef or turkey by mixing in oatmeal for meatballs or hamburger patties.
5. Potatoes. Potatoes are the only veggie that made my list, simply because potatoes store well for extended periods and you don’t have to wait for them to go on sale. Potatoes go with almost any meal: mashed potatoes, cut up in soups, baked potatoes, sliced for French fries, shredded for hash browns.
6. Baking mix aka Bisquick. Buying generic in large quantity will usually be the best idea for this quick kitchen staple. Possibilities: pancakes, waffles, biscuits, dumplings, shortcake, cornbread, coffee cake. Don’t want to pay the extra? Learn how to make your own Bisquick.
7. Roasts. When I started cooking pot roasts I felt like my mother! Seriously, roasts can come attached to an attractive price tag and provide a lot of meat all cooked at once in your crockpot. Use the leftover meat in the meals you serve over the next few days. For example, if Monday night is pork roast with veggies, Tuesday I’ll make pork stir fry and Wednesday I’ll cook pineapple pork. Look for sales on roasts for even lower than normal prices. Home Ever After Rated: Best Meat Value
8. Barley. This grain is so versatile that it goes into breakfasts and dinners. I add barley into my homemade porridge. You can also cook it in the same pan with oatmeal for a little variety. I add barley into the broth in my crockpot when I cook a roast for a tasty and filling side. Also try adding barley to your rice side-dishes for extra filling.
Danelle Says: Use inexpensive staples in your cooking for frugal family favorites that won’t break the bank!
Get more Works for me Wednesday here. Top 8 Frugal Cooking Ingredients was originally published on HomeEverAfter.com on April 1, 2008. Photo courtesy stock.xchng.