Cooking cheaply but still tasty – who doesn’t know this challenge? Regardless of whether you are a student, housewife or pensioner: Anyone can save money with little tricks.
The simplest dishes are often the most delicious – we already knew that as children. Back then, who would prefer caviar to potato pancakes? Fresh ingredients and a flair for the right combination are more important than the cost of a meal. You should certainly treat yourself to something, but not every day – otherwise it wouldn’t be anything special after all! In our recipe section you will find inexpensive dishes for which your budget will certainly still be enough at the end of the month.
Cooking cheaply Tip 1: Plan the week
Cooking cheaply starts with well thought-out planning: Think a few days in advance what you want to cook on the following days and then go shopping accordingly. So you can coordinate dishes and use leftovers optimally, buy bulk packs and take special offers. Do you need ideas for this? Then take a look at the chef’s weekly schedule .
Cooking cheaply Tip 2: Buy in advance
Take a look around your storage cupboard to see how many foods actually have a longer shelf life. This ranges from pasta, couscous, rice or lentils to tomato paste and oil to wiener sausages, tuna, chickpeas, Mie noodles or pickles. You can buy all of these groceries in larger quantities if they are on sale and always have them in stock. This has two advantages: you save money and you always have long-lasting basic ingredients to combine great dishes from leftover, perishable ingredients.
Cooking cheaply Tip 3: Don’t shop hungry
You probably know that too: You already go shopping with a grumbling stomach and in the end there are chips, biscuits, mini salamis, a ready-made wrap from the cooling shelf, hearty waffles and lots of other products in the shopping cart that tend to satisfy the quick hunger . But do you really need these things? Or should they just satisfy your cravings? The fact is: If you go shopping hungry, you often grab delicacies that are not absolutely necessary – and the nice planning was in vain. Better get used to shopping on a full stomach and, above all, buying the things you need to cook something for yourself.
Cooking cheaply Tip 4: Shop in the right place
Fortunately, we have high food standards in Germany. In contrast to other countries, in this country you can also get goods that are okay in discount stores. So if you want to save, you can buy standard products in the discounter. Only supplement your shopping in the supermarket with products that are not available at the discounter. In the supermarket you should use the chains’ own brands for standard products, because these are much cheaper than the branded products. And in branded products and own brands in supermarkets, both packages often contain the same product. And another tip for shopping: You can often find the cheapest products in the bottom third of the shelves, so don’t just look at eye level.
Cook cheaply Tip 5: Shop seasonally and regionally
Strawberries and asparagus are good examples: If you want to buy them outside of the actual season, you have to dig deeper into your pockets, as these are then imported from North Africa, Israel or Spain, for example. Therefore, you should preferably buy seasonal products that come from the region – these are not only cheaper than the imported products, but also particularly fresh and gentle on the environment.
Cooking cheaply Tip 6: Assess your needs correctly
Buying in advance makes sense, but only if the food is actually used up. So don’t buy three-packs of peppers if you only need a single pepper. Perhaps the kilo price is not expensive, but what use is it to you if the leftovers spoil?
Cooking cheaply Tip 7: Use leftovers wisely
Speaking of leftovers: don’t let any ingredients spoil. That may sound obvious, but it’s not that easy to implement. The be-all and end-all here means optimal utilization of leftovers . What you cannot use for other dishes: Simply freeze remaining ingredients such as minced meat, vegetables or sauces. What you can conjure up with leftover pasta with other leftovers from the refrigerator, we show you in the video. Carsten Dohrs provides further tips so that nothing has to be thrown away in your kitchen.
Cooking cheaply Tip 8: Don’t throw anything away too soon
Basically, you don’t have to take the best-before date (BBD) too seriously – many products can be used a few days longer. For example, if you store rice, pasta, couscous or tea in a dry and clean place, you can use these products well beyond their best-before date. Even with more sensitive products such as yogurt, milk or butter, the best-before date does not have to be the throw-away date. Here you should take a close look at the products, sniff them and trust your senses. You can usually use such products unopened for a few days beyond the best before date. Only food with “To be used by” written on it should be disposed of immediately after the specified date. These products are more susceptible to germs, for example minced meat.
Cooking cheaply Tip 9: Reduce meat
Cooking cheaply also means vegetarian – because meat is often the most expensive ingredient in many everyday dishes. You don’t have to do without meat entirely, but a few vegetarian meals per week can take the pressure off your wallet noticeably and eating less meat is also good for your health. Finally, nutrition experts like WHO advise eating a maximum of 600 grams of meat or sausage per week.
Cooking cheaply Tip 10: Take your time
Always prepares what you can do yourself: In many cases, finished products are unnecessary and too expensive and sometimes you don’t really save a lot of time with them. For example, ready-made baking mixes in which you have to add fresh milk and eggs anyway. Or the packed and washed lettuce – which not only spoils much faster than a fresh head of lettuce, but also often brings with it unwanted germs. Ready-made dough for tarte flambée only saves a little preparation time, but costs significantly more than the ingredients flour, olive oil, salt and water. The same applies to pizza dough – if you plan early, you will also get over the waiting time until the yeast dough has risen. Admittedly, these products may be practical, but certainly not cheap and also not really healthy.