I first started to think about stretching a dollar by cooking, when I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home. It never occurred to me that the banks closed, that week on Wednesday and that food service at college was closed from Thursday to Monday! Someone invited me home for Thanksgiving, but after that I had $5 to make it until Monday morning! I went to the grocery store while thinking really hard about how to get the most bang for my buck!
Necessity will make You think hard about how to stretch Your Dollar!
Over the years Jerreth and I have spent time thinking and discussing how to cook economically and what would we want to have on hand, in case of emergency (loss of income, extreme weather, etc.) We’ve come to a number of conclusions.
To Stretch Your Dollar, You Need A Toolkit
Some “tools” for economical cooking might include.
- A crock-pot or some other means of slow cooking. A slow cooker can take cheap ingredients and turn them into sumptuous fare. Also, though it may seem counter intuitive, a slow cooker can save you a LOT of time, in a busy lifestyle. Being are pressed for time, putting a meal into the crock-pot before we leave for work is time well spent. When we come home… it’s ready to eat!
- Basic cooking utensils: pots, pans, silverware, ladle, spatula(s), wooden spoon, food storage containers. All these things will save you money if they save you from eating out, even a couple of times.
- Refrigerator or a way to store food in the cold. Once, during a 10 day power outage, we stored our food outside in our stock trailer. It stayed cold. It did the job, saving us a LOT of money.
- A good cookbook is worth its weight in gold.
To Stretch Your Dollar by Cooking, You Need Some Basic Ingredients
You may add or leave off something, according to your personal preferences. Here’s my list of necessities.
- Vegetable oil (Our preference is olive oil, but there are other forms of shortening.)
- Oatmeal (bulk, not envelopes) One can eat a whole lot of oatmeal. It’s filling, cheap and nutritious.
- sugar of some kind
- Powdered milk (stores well and works in many recipes).
- Dry beans and legumes (chick peas, lentils, etc.) All very healthy, nutritious and economical, and, they cook well in a crock-pot.
- Baking powder and baking soda (two different things)
- Salt and Pepper
- Hot sauce
- Frozen vegetables (Providing you have a freezer: if you have to buy veggies, frozen is cheaper and still of good quality.)
This is just a basic list. To expand it, I’d definitely add more spices. If you would like to obtain dried and freeze dried supplies for indefinite storage, consider Honeyville: Great Source of Storable, Economical Food .
To Stretch Your Dollar Work on Your Cooking Skills
Practice making some things from scratch. Pancakes, breads and biscuits, for instance, can be more economical if you make them yourself. They’ll almost certainly be more delicious. Pancakes, for instance, will cost you a fraction, if you make your own mix. Add some cornmeal to it, and you’ll probably beat out any restaurant’s offering, hands down!
Practice cooking beans and legumes from scratch. They can be ridiculously inexpensive. Yet, when cooked well, they are delicious! A slow cooker will serve you well for cooking dry legumes! Beans and legumes store well, improve a person’s diet greatly and stretch your dollar a lot.
Learn some basic bread making skills. Baking is good. Sourdough is even better! Homesteading Edu has a course on sourdough.