According to nutrition experts, a healthy serving of cooked meat is 3 ounces. That’s about 4 ounces raw. If you’re eating meat for dinner aim for it to take up no more than one-quarter of your plate. Fill half the plate with vegetables and the final quarter with a whole grain. Eating less meat is better for your health and your budget.
Tip 2: Cook ’em low and slow.
Tougher cuts of beef and pork are a lot cheaper than steaks and chops, but no one wants to eat a piece of leather for dinner. The best way to cook tough cuts of meat: cook them low and slow, usually for 3 or more hours, often in liquid, to make them melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Tip 3: Bring out the roast.
Roasting a big piece of meat is an easy way to feed a crowd. Of course, a crown rib roast or beef tenderloin isn’t an economical choice. So choose cuts, such as leg of lamb, turkey breast or pork shoulder, and roast them.
Tip 4: Add pasta or rice.
Got a few vegetables or a little leftover meat? Pasta and rice are cheap, healthy pantry items that let you turn a few leftovers into a meal. Try quickly sautéeing peppers and onions and toss them with noodles, herbs and a little cheese, or add rice into a vegetable soup to make it more satisfying.
Tip 5: Stir-fry for dinner.
Stir-frying with plenty of vegetables and just a little bit of meat is an obvious choice when you want to make a quick and healthy dinner. It’s also very forgiving, so if you have a little extra onion or half a leftover zucchini you want to use up, just throw it in your stir-fry.
Tip 6: Cook once, eat twice.
We like to double recipes so that we can get ahead on our cooking and have a dinner or lunch ready for later. The added benefit is it helps use up ingredients that we bought for that recipe (a bunch of herbs, for instance). Recipes that freeze well, like stew, Oven Barbecued Brisket and Hungarian Beef Goulash are great ones to double.
Tip 7: Pack a lunch.
When you’re making dinner, think about what you’re going to eat for lunch tomorrow. If you’re making a salad for dinner, make a little extra and put it in a container, undressed, for lunch the next day. Packing lunch is a great way to make sure you’re not wasting any leftovers—and to help you eat healthy, save money and save time throughout the day.
Tip 8: Feed yourself (not the birds) with stale bread.
Freeze overripe bananas (peeled) if you don’t have time to use them immediately. Throw them into smoothies or defrost them when you want to make some banana bread or muffins.
Tip 10: Squeeze your lemons.
We like to keep citrus on hand because it’s a great way to perk up a sauce or a salad dressing. Keep lemons and limes in the refrigerator and if they start to get dried, shriveled or have brown spots on the skin, squeeze the juice and store it covered in the refrigerator or freezer.
Tip 11: Seal it up.
Yes, it sounds like hyperbole, but vacuum-sealing tools are truly revolutionary when it comes to preserving food in the freezer. They ensure that your food—leftovers, meats, fruits, vegetable or extra stuff you bought in bulk—stays delicious, without freezer burn, for months.
Tip 12: Keep it fresh.
Make sure you have sealable storage containers on hand to save leftovers. You can buy inexpensive clear plastic or glass ones at the supermarket. When they're clear you can tell what's in them at a glance, and may be more likely to eat the leftovers.
Tip 13: Plug in the slow cooker.
If you don't have hours to be at home tending a braise on the stove, try a slow cooker. It will give you the same effect (i.e., it gets tough, inexpensive cuts of meat meltingly tender), but you can plug it in, leave for the day and come home to a dinner like stew or Hungarian Beef Goulash.
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
Once you've made your plan and gone shopping, it's time to roll up your sleeves in the kitchen. Get familiar with the best cooking techniques for inexpensive ingredients. Be prepared with clever ways to use leftovers or foods that are a bit past their prime. And, of course, know how to properly store leftovers and extra ingredients to avoid waste. Here are some tips to help you in the kitchen.
Check out the slideshow above for budget-friendly cooking tips.