Shopping on a budget means finding items that can do multiple duty in your cabinets. I have lived on a shoestring grocery budget for years, which allows me to enjoy other luxuries while still eating healthy and tasty meals every day. Here’s my guide on items that do the most duty in your kitchen, and that can help you craft many menus for you and your family.
Dry pasta, whether it’s macaroni noodles or spaghetti, can be used in multiple ways to create delicious meals. I like to make beef or chicken broth using a bouillon cube and boil in some noodles for a filling soup. You can also make homemade mac and cheese with some noodles and fresh cheese, instead of forking over for the boxed varieties. My favorite use of noodles is in casseroles which can feed a lot of people or just serve two for a week. Pasta is very inexpensive, and can often be found for less than a dollar per box at the grocery store. If you need gluten free pasta, you can even find deals on that kind to make your meals safe to eat but filling.
I know many people who are skeptical about the taste of ground turkey, but I promise you it’s the best way to reduce your cost on meats. Turkey makes excellent burgers that cut the fat but will hold your favorite seasonings and toppings like beef. At my local grocery store, a pound of ground turkey in a roll is much cheaper than beef, so I keep at least two in my freezer at all times. Turkey meat can absorb flavors, almost like tofu, so it’s great for Italian and Mexican inspired dishes where the most important part is the flavor of the seasonings. My favorite taco casserole is always made with turkey instead of ground beef.
I know canned tomatoes are pretty bland and boring, but they can be transformed into the perfect topping or base for dishes that cut your costs. I dice canned tomatoes and use them in pasta dishes, on top of tacos, and in salads. I even drizzle a little oil over canned tomatoes in my blender, add spice, and whip up fresh pasta sauce. Cans of tomatoes are very inexpensive and you can get several dishes from one large can. I like to buy a large can and prepare sauce in a jar, dice up some an leave some whole so I have ready made ingredients for my meals.
As much as I wish I could, I am terrible at making homemade biscuits. A can of biscuit dough makes for a yummy breakfast side, but you can also transform it into other recipes. I have made pizza with my homemade tomato sauce and biscuit dough crust, and it’s delicious. You can also make a flaky pie crust with it, or roll it out into bread sticks. You can even make little turnover desserts with pie filling or fresh fruit baked into a biscuit. In a pinch you can flatten and bake for thin sandwich bread. I have relied on biscuit dough in a pinch several times and I’m never without a can.
Though every household is different, I find that having these items around allows me to make dishes quickly that fill up my guests and family at every meal. At most discount grocery stores or big box retailers, these items are inexpensive and can help with your food budgeting. Most importantly, they will allow you to feel confident and experiment with recipes in your kitchen.