By Eric Kelly
We all like eating good food. Unfortunately, not all of us are born with the chef gene. This can leave us trying to balance our culinary desires with our abilities in the kitchen while also trying to keep our food costs down.
The good news is that it’s absolutely possible to master recipes from chefs like the newly vegan-friendly Gordon Ramsay and to take control of our grocery budget. Technology, the internet, and a little bit of trial and error are all it takes to become your own top chef.
Does Cooking at Home Really Save Money?
Eating out is a big splurge when you have a small budget, and it takes up a lot more time than you think, particularly if you have children. But how much money? And how much time? Forbes has come to the conclusion that dining out is up to five times more costly than just firing up the oven.
If time is your biggest concern, a sit-down dinner out won’t save you any. Once you factor in the time it takes to wait for a table, wait for your food, eat, wait for drink refills, and wait for the check, you could have cooked and cleaned up at least twice.
Technology to the Rescue
Now that you know how much time and money you can save, it’s time to figure out how to make it happen. One of the best pieces of advice: Invest in an Instant Pot. With the right model, the cooks from Two Healthy Kitchens explain that you can pressure cook, slow cook, steam and sauté, and even make dairy-free yogurt.
There are lots of other kitchen gadgets that will come in handy, too, and if you need to buy multiple small appliances or tools, look online for things like BOGOoffers, free shipping, and discount coupons before you buy.
Another awesome advent of the digital age is that you can bring cooking classes right into your home. For instance, Amazon’s Food Network Kitchen app will let you cook along with your favorite chefs directly from your Echo Show.
Look to Your Food Heroes for Inspiration
When you are used to your favorite meals, it’s tough to let go of your comfort foods. But maybe you don’t have to. Sometimes, chefs are more than willing to share their recipes, and you can often find plant-based versions of recipes for everything from Mrs. Fields cookies to expensive pasta dishes that, in reality, cost just pennies to produce at home. And if you have a local favorite, there is no shame in reaching out on Facebook or via email and asking your preferred chef for info on their signature dishes. Many bakeries and farm-to-table establishments will also be happy to share. If you live near a farmers market, you can also pay it a visit to find out what is seasonally available and to ask if they have any tips on how to prepare popular local fare.
No one is saying that you can’t treat yourself to a meal out every now and then. However, a family of four could easily spend approximately $7,000 or more dining out just twice a week over the course of a year. And if you’re single, you may see your bank account drop by that same number if you are tempted out of the kitchen multiple nights each week. Technology and a bit of persistence can help you save money and time while providing the added benefit of knowing where food comes from and what’s on your plate with each bite.
Eric Kelly writes about life as a single dad at mydadventures.com.
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