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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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  • basilandcatnip By basilandcatnip

    I've been growing basil in pots for several years. Got tired of paying the price since I love pesto so much. It's super easy and grows quickly if you pinch it back I love making my own dressings too, no fillers, artifical flavors, colors, or other chemicals. I like taking all the leftovers at the end of 2 or 3 days, from all of the above, and make a giant pot of soup.

  • joy9281 By joy9281

    These are some great ideas for all of us thanks for adding it.

  • marylynnf By marylynnf

    You can also bake a chicken in a bundt pan - I like the clay ones but the metal ones work too. Legs down, pour a little liquid - OJ and lemonade are wonderful but stock, veggie juice are good too. The chicken bastes itself and it is so juicy and never dry. Fat drains down into the liquid and is easily drained away. Juicy with less fat.

  • ChefErin By ChefErin

    Marylynnf - What an interesting idea. I've seen upright roasters but hadn't thought of using a bundt pan. Very creative. I assume you would set the bundt pan on a sheet pan to catch the juices from the chicken? Growing up in the Midwest, I remember people roasting "Beer Can Chicken." The chicken is placed legs down over an open beer can and roasted that way. Supposed to be very moist. - Erin

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