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Guiltless Gourmet: Save Money, Savor Flavor

Guiltless Gourmet: Save Money, Savor Flavor

Looking for ways to stretch your food budget without compromising quality?  Here are a few simple suggestions for you to try.

 

"The average price of homemade vinaigrette made from extra virgin olive oil is about $.35 an ounce. "

Buy Whole Chickens

There is a saying in the restaurant industry that you can make a $100 on one chicken.  You won’t get that kind of return at home but you will be amazed what you can get from one chicken.  If you buy chicken whole not only will you save money but you can stretch one chicken into three meals for four people. 

 

You will need to cut the chicken up yourself.  First, remove the breasts by trimming carefully along the ribs.  You can use these to make a stir-fry or cube them and skewer with fresh vegetables for kabobs.  Next, remove the thighs and legs. Bone them and use the dark meat for a delicious simmered Thai or Indian Curry.  If you like chicken wings as a snack you can freeze them until you have enough for an appetizer later.  Finally, use the carcass to make stock for soup or risotto. 

 

You’ve just gotten three meals and a snack from one chicken!

 

 

 

Make Your Own Salad Dressing

Making your own salad dressing is a simple way to give your family fresh, preservative-free flavor while saving money.  The average price of homemade vinaigrette made from extra virgin olive oil is about $.35 an ounce. 

 

Simply mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts olive oil, add a little chopped shallot, fresh minced herbs like basil or parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  If you want a dressing that doesn’t separate as quickly, mix in a little Dijon mustard. 

 

Your homemade vinaigrette will last 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.  On day 5 use it to marinate chicken breasts for tasty kabobs.

 

 

Plant an Herb Garden

I love fresh herbs but I cringe each time I purchase a tiny package of fresh basil leaves for $2.50 to $2.99.  Still, when tomatoes are in season I just can’t resist.  I probably purchase fresh basil a minimum of 6 times over the summer.  I also use a lot of cilantro and fresh parsley.  When you add up the cost of a few fresh herbs, you will quickly see the benefit of growing your own. 

 

You don’t need a garden to benefit from growing fresh herbs; all you need is a sunny window sill.  Stop by your local nursery or hardware store and pick up a rectangular planter, some organic potting soil and a few seeds or seedlings and you’ll have fresh herbs in no time.  Don’t be afraid to snip off what you need, the more you snip the more they grow.

 

Imagine sitting down to dinner of chicken kabobs marinated in homemade salad dressing using herbs you’ve grown yourself.

 

Do you have creative ways to save money while serving your family high-quality foods? Join the Foodie's discussion on economical recipes!

 

 

 

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  • Dare2BDifferent By Dare2BDifferent
    08.22.09  

    I love this article! I try to buy whole chickens, but I do grab boneless, skinless breasts as time savers. I love making my own salad dressings from EVOO. They are always so yummy! I also plan on having my preschool aged children help me plant a herb garden soon.

  • InternetMom13 By InternetMom13
    08.23.09  

    Great article! I've been doing all these things for many years and it amazes me when I see people spend so much money on prepared, convenient foods when they can easily, inexpensively make it themselves. One of my favorite budget-friendly suggestion is to shop at farmer's markets for fresh fruits and veggies. Besides getting fresh produce you're supporting local farmer's and saving money because there's no middle man (or woman).

  • SWEETBUTREAL By SWEETBUTREAL
    08.23.09  

    I myself bought a food dehydrator and dry some of my spices that I grow throughout the summer. They are not fresh but they are better than what you buy in your spice aisle at your local grocer. HINT.... As soon as they are dried put them in quart baggies and seal them after removing all of the air. To remove all air you will fill your bag with as much as you wish to store, then zip seal it all but 1/2 inch. Insert a straw into that opening and suck out all the air possible and then as you pull the straw out of the bag, keep sucking so that you do not let in any air. Seal quickly and keep until ready to use and then reseal the same way again.

  • chartrj By chartrj
    08.24.09  

    I love all these tips.I already buy chicken whole, but usually just cook whole thing , I wll have to try these ideas.

  • ChefErin By ChefErin
    08.24.09  

    Chartrj - even if you roast your chicken whole, you can stretch your budget by using the carcass to make stock. Just gather the bones after dinner and simmer them with onion, carrot, celery and a bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, a couple parsley stems, 2-3 peppercorns, and a pinch of dried thyme) for 6 hours. You'll have a delicious brown chicken stock. Use it immediately or freeze it for later.

  • samiam54 By samiam54
    08.24.09  

    I like to buy the whole chicken already cooked from the deli. we will eat our first meal with side dishes. I then turn the left overs into chicken salad for a easy second no fuss meal.

  • joybells By joybells
    08.25.09  

    I also love fresh herbs and home made salad dressing. Some times I try to cut calories by mixing 1 part vinegar, with 3 parts tomato juice or v8 juice and then I add my favorite herbs. If you like tomatoes then you will like this salad dressing and there is no fat in it!!!

  • stickywd40 By stickywd40
    08.25.09  

    Love this...so up my alley. Although I've never boned a chicken, it sounds like something I need to be doing. And great reminder about homemade salad dressings. It really is easy and what a savings. I'll be making one tonight.

  • jlindseyc By jlindseyc
    08.26.09  

    we have started cooking a whole chicken for the first time this summer and it has been very nice. We usually roast it whole but use the various parts for different meals over the next few days. We also make a wonderful homemade salad dressing with olive oil, vinegar, honey and fresh lime juice. We particularly like it on a salad with flank steak and feta cheese.

  • COLLDAWN By COLLDAWN
    08.27.09  

    I ALWAYS ALWAYS BUY CHICKENS WHOLE! YOU CAN MAKE CHICKEN IN A CAN WHERE YOU STAND YOUR CHICKEN STRAIGHT UP OVER A CAN OF BEER, SPRITE OR COKE. YOU CAN ALSO COOK IT IN A ROASTER, ON YOUR ROTISSERIE ON YOUR GRILL AND IN A CROCKPOT WITH A CAN OF MEXICAN TOMATOES FOR CHICKEN BURRITOS.

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