When you hear the words healthy, savory, fancy and affordable, you might think they’re synonymous with impossible. Great eats that are also good for you don’t have to break your bank. If you want to fancify your dinners at home without splurging, here are 12 ideas you can try today!
When it’s made in your kitchen, it will always taste better. Many people think creating something from scratch is too much work, but nothing adds an extra pep to a meal like something homemade. Store-purchased sauces, like tomato sauce and Alfredo sauce, have a ton of preservatives in them. Making them at home and in bulk will save you money, and your body will thank you later.
Try whipping up some homemade bread, too. It’s relatively easy, and you can make different varieties just by adding various spices, nuts and dried fruit. Anyone eating at your house will be impressed with your homemade creations.
Create Your Own Herb-Infused Butter
Butter is one of the most versatile items in the kitchen. From greasing pans to searing meat, butter is an absolute necessity. But whoever said it had to be plain? You can have sweet, salty or savory butter for any dish you’re creating just by mixing some extra ingredients into softened butter! Spread on bread, sauté some veggies or bake with your new flavored butter. Chef on, friend, chef on.
Find Power in Frozen
Walking through a market and seeing the various colors of fresh veggies and fruits is tempting. Buying fresh all the time can become quite expensive, and you’re on a crunched timeframe to use it before it goes bad. Don’t turn up your nose at frozen as an option! Flash-freezing technology allows processing plants to basically stop the ripening process on ripe produce, which locks in the nutrients. Sometimes, fresh veggies and fruits are over-ripe and start to lose their nutrient value. If you’re looking to save some time and money but still get your 5 servings of fruit and veggies per day, try adding frozen fruits and vegetables to your grocery list when fresh is hard to find in season.
Practice the Art of Plating
“We eat with our eyes first,” says David Wynne, a Culinary Arts Professor at The Art Institute of Seattle. And it makes sense. The way a meal is plated has a lot to do with whether we initially find it appetizing or not. Dive into learning about the art of plating to up your chef game.
Explore En Papillote
“En papillote” or “al cartoccio” is the technique of using a folded pouch, such as parchment paper, to steam anything from fish to vegetables. If you’re prone to cooking items to the point where they are too dry, this method is great to try since the pouch will hold all of the moisture in.
Attempt a One-Pan Dish
Cooking new dishes is always fun, but it’s never fun staring at the dirty pots and pans that are now waiting for someone to come along and scrub them. If you’re prone to using a week’s worth of dishes for just one dish, try out a few one-pan recipes. They don’t compromise on flavor, and everyone attending your dinner party will be impressed at how clean your kitchen is!
Incorporate Table Festivities
You may love cooking so much that you spend almost all of your time at the oven or stove, only to neglect your table setting. Your meal will only look as good as where you eat it, so snatch some candles from your living room and dress it up a little. Ditch the paper napkins and buy some cloth. You’ll feel extra dapper and sophisticated!
Cook With Wine
Drink some, cook with some — you can’t go wrong. Using wine to flavor meats is unlike any seasoning you can add. So give that dish a splash here and there — we won’t tell.
Ribbon-Cut Your Veggies
If you have a veggie peeler, you can pour on some extra fun when eating fresh or sautéed veggies! The options are endless for the dishes you can create with thinly sliced vegetables.
Add Some Staple Flavorings to Your Cabinet
Many recipes out there call for a wide variety of spices and sauces, but you don’t need all of them to create mouthwatering dishes. Invest in some good salt, pepper and a few staple seasonings. Check out your local market for some affordable blends and seek advice on what to create with them.
Tenderize Your Meat
It can be expensive trying to purchase great cuts of meat all of the time. The good news is you don’t have to. Even if you can’t afford filet mignon or prime rib, you can tenderize more affordable meat cuts in a variety of ways. Wrapping a roast in bacon is an all-time favorite!
Don’t Forget the Drinks
Food and water go hand in hand. Skip the soda or iced tea and try your hand at brewing your own infused water. If you have fruit that is about to go bad, throw it in a pitcher of water. For infused water recipes, you’re really only limited by the power of your imagination!
With all of these ideas, the only thing you’ll have limiting you now is the amount of time you can spend in the kitchen!