Learning how to cook is not only a fantastic way to save money, it is also a good way to control the nutritional content of your food. As you gain experience, you will find that it’s easier to take advantage of grocery store specials and to throw together tasty meals from your pantry. You will have less temptation to eat out and might even find that cooking becomes a relaxing hobby for you.
Food and cooking equipment can be expensive, but you can build your way up to working with pricey ingredients and amassing kitchen tools. For now, you’ll be amazed at how much you can do with just the basics.
Kitchen Equipment on the Cheap
- Do stay away from ultra cheap pots and pans sets sold at drugstores, dollar stores and discount department stores. They conduct heat poorly and unevenly and any non-stick coatings will flake off in no time. You’ll spend more in the long run replacing the equipment and become frustrated trying to overcome hot and cold spots as you cook.
- Do a web search for restaurant supply houses in your area. You will get professional quality equipment at a fraction of the price of top of the line consumer lines. Knives, saute pans and stock pots are particularly good buys.
- Check out discount retailers like Marshalls and TJ Maxx to find name brand kitchen supplies at a discount. Stock varies widely so be patient and check often.
Use Frugal Ingredients
- Try new recipes based on what’s in season in your area and what you can find on special.
- Build up your supply of spices, vinegars, oils and other extras slowly. There is no need to rush out and buy everything you might need right away.
- Check out the bulk bins at your local health food store to buy small quantities of herbs and spices for cheap. You can buy just as much as you need so nothing is wasted. Herbs and spices are better fresh, so there is no need to buy a huge quantity of an ingredient that you’ll only use a few times a year.
- Get familiar with your local ethnic grocers. Many offer great prices on fresh produce and meats and also sell spices and other seasonings quite cheaply.
- Do go grocery shopping with a list and a plan. Be cautious about buying too much on impulse, especially foods that spoil quickly.
Learn Technique without Spending a Fortune
- Check out YouTube for tutorials on how to perform various cooking techniques. You can learn everything from how to chop an onion to de-boning a chicken.
- Many print cooking magazines and television show websites also offer step by step photo tutorials and videos for free.
- Your library is a great place to check out cookbooks before you buy. You can also flip through current cooking magazines for free.
- There are a wealth of food related blogs out there offering everything from ethnic cuisines to family favorites to extravagant gourmet spreads. Foodbuzz is a great place to start exploring new blogs.
- Join a forum for foodies. Chowhound and Serious Eats both have reader forums where you can ask questions and learn about new recipes and techniques.
- Ask friends and family members that can cook for help. Nothing beats hands on experience! Plus it’s a great way to spend time with each other and bond.
- The best way to learn how to cook is to just jump in there and do it.
- Everyone makes mistakes and has flops. If this happens to you, just see if you can learn anything from your mistake and try again.
- Do keep safety at the front of your mind. Learn proper food handling procedures and keep a fire extinguisher and first aid kit on hand at all times.
How did you learn how to cook on a budget?