1. PENNY-PINCH YOUR POULTRY
"When I was working in France, I was surprised that even home cooks prepped their own meat. Why? Because the more the grocery store does, the more you're going to pay.
Chicken is the easiest to save money on. First, skip the boneless, skinless cuts. You'll save about 50 percent when you buy chicken with skin and bones, and leaving those bits on will help it cook up more tender and delicious. Marinated cuts may be pumped up with salt and water, which means you're paying for liquid. Make an easy marinade with EVOO, lemon juice and chopped rosemary and garlic."
2. TRANSFORM YOUR LEFTOVERS
"Call me crazy, but I actually get inspired by leftovers. Just think about it: Most of the work is already done -- all you have to do is mix in a little creativity. I turn extra spaghetti into a pizza crust by crisping it in one layer in an ovenproof nonstick pan over medium-high heat, pressing down frequently, for about 10 minutes per side. Spread it with tomato sauce, sprinkle on some cheese, then pop it in the oven until the cheese melts.
Got some extra cooked pork chops? Cut them into 1-inch pieces and pulse in a food processor until almost ground. Mix in feta, dried breadcrumbs and some beaten egg. Shape into patties and cook like burgers."
3. SKIP MEAT ONCE A WEEK (OR MORE)
"There's lots of talk about Meatless Mondays and how they help the planet and improve your health, but of course, going easy on meat can also stretch your grocery budget. When I was in college, I was a vegetarian simply because I couldn't afford meat. All of those meals forced me to get creative with my veggies.
One of my favorite meat-free dinners is cauliflower steaks. Just cut a head of cauliflower into 1-inch-thick slices, then cook in EVOO in a large, ovenproof skillet until golden on both sides. Bake in a 350° oven until tender, about 10 minutes. Serve with pesto and sautéed peppers and onions. A pound of cauliflower costs about $2. Even budget-friendly cuts like flank steak cost about $8 per pound, so the savings will add up fast!"
6 Savings Tips from Sara Moulton (continued)
4. EMBRACE CANNED SALMON
"It isn't the sexiest ingredient, but it is an insane bargain (as low as $2 a can!). Even better, what's inside is usually eco-friendly wild salmon, with four times more healthful omega-3 fatty acids than canned tuna.
Skip the salmon salad and make quick and easy salmon tacos instead. Heat up the fish with some salsa verde, then spoon onto corn or flour tortillas. Serve with cheese, avocado and lettuce."
5. BUILD A THRIFTY PANTRY
"Over the years I've learned that to save money, you sometimes have to spend money. Take my pantry, for example. Every time I see any of these staples on sale, I snatch them right up: beans, rice, pasta, olives, tomato sauce, stock, and frozen peas and corn.
If you have them on hand, you can make a delicious, inexpensive dinner at a moment's notice (risotto with peas, black bean-and-corn soup). When you need inspiration, print out yummy-sounding recipes that feature this stuff, and get cooking."
6. BREAK OUT OF YOUR (EGG) SHELL
"My whole family loves eggs. Lucky for me, high-protein, low-cal eggs cost only about 15 cents each. Breakfast-for-dinner is an obvious use, but you don't have to do much work to make eggs feel a little more evening-appropriate.
I like making cute little ham- and-egg cups. Start by putting 8 slices of thinly sliced deli ham (or smoked turkey) into 8 muffin tins. Spoon finely chopped raw or cooked veggies into each cup and crack an egg on top. Finish with a little bit of coarsely grated cheese and bake in a 350° oven until the eggs are cooked just how you like them. Serve two per person with a simple salad on the side and some crusty bread."