Cooking on a budget is a great way to boost your savings if you’re in the process of repairing your credit or trying put away money for something (vacation, emergency fund, retirement etc). If you often find yourself eating take-out or indulging in restaurant meals, this post is for you. We give you the resources and tips to get you started on cooking great meals at home. Just because you didn’t spend a lot at the grocery store doesn’t mean you can’t satisfy your tastebuds! 

In this article, we’ll share some resources for delicious, low-budget recipes. And we promise you’ll never have to eat Top Ramen, unless you actually enjoy it (no judgements)!

Below are four great sites to help you get started cooking on a budget while eating delicious and healthy food.

cooking on a budget

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Budget Bytes

Founded by a Nashville-based food blogger named Beth, Budget Bytes is an excellent resource for cooking on a budget.  They offer up low-cost recipes like Chicken and Lime Soup ($1.29 per serving), Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad ($0.82 per serving), and King Ranch Chicken Casserole ($1.83 per serving). Don’t those sound delicious?  Cooking on a budget can definitely be flavorful and satisfying while saving you money.

Not Eating Out in New York

If you live in a city, you know how expensive eating at restaurants can be. However, staying at home and cooking on a budget doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice flavor and satisfaction! Founded by a Brooklyn-based blogger named Cathy, Not Eating Out in New York documents Cathy’s personal journey to teach herself how to cook. Now, readers can benefit from her efforts by making recipes like Chilled Noodles with Eggplant and Cucumber, Carrot Salad with Preserved Lemon, and more! Before you know it, you may even start preferring your own cooking to a restaurant meal! 

The 99 Cent Chef

The 99 Cent Chef blog may not be as pretty as other food blogs, but the wealth of recipes makes up for the lack of polish. Featured on NBC Nightly News, Time Magazine, and NPR Marketplace, this blog is updated at least once a week. Recent recipes include coleslaw, classic potato salad, easy smoked ribs, and more. If you’re new to cooking, then you’ll definitely find a lot of helpful information here!

Budget Savvy Diva

Created in 2010 by Sara Lundberg, Budget Savvy Diva puts fun and creativity into budget eating. A mom of twins, she loves finding new ways to save money for her family, whether through making low-cost meals or couponing! Recent recipes include taco “donuts”, homemade goulash, bacon ranch pasta, and much more! However, Sara admits her favorite recipe is a simple caprese salad with fresh basil from her garden.

Habits For Cooking On a Budget

cooking on a budget

[Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels]

Plan Your Meals

There is no debating, planning out the meals you are going to eat for the week will save you money.  You will do away with eating out at restaurants and getting food from the drive thru which we all know adds up big time.  When it comes to meal planning, you want to see what you already have on hand and what other ingredients you want to use.  Once you have this figured out, you can decide which meals you want to prepare.

A great way to come up with ideas is to head over to Google.  Just type in your ingredients and add the word “recipe” to the end of your query.  For example, if you have chicken, broccoli and potatoes, type that in.  You will receive a bunch of recipes to choose from.

Shop In Season

Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season is one of the best ways to save money.  Aside from saving you money, buying seasonal means the fruits and vegetables are at their peak in nutrients and often taste better too!  Another way to help your money stretch further is to buy extra and freeze it for future meals.  Pro tip: Avoid buying lower priced in season produce in the freezer section.  Often, the price is marked down because the product wasn’t sold by the specified date.

Opt For Cheaper Cuts Of Meat

Doing meatless Monday is great but people tend to try and cut out meat as much as possible when working with a budget.  This is because meat can really drive up your grocery bill.  With that being said, there are ways to save money and still get your meat.  The key is to buy less expensive cuts of meat.  So when looking at red meat, opt for bone-in and tougher cuts (no NY strip of filet mignon).  When it comes to chicken, buy skin on, bone in and opt for  chicken thighs instead of the breasts.  Buying a whole chicken is another great way to save money.

A great trick for cooking with cheaper cuts of meat, especially red meat, is to switch up your cooking methods.  Using a slow cooker is a great way to still get meat that is juicy and tender. Fish is another great source of protein and they have lots of affordable and tasty options.

Buy In Bulk

Buying in bigger volume with bulk can save you a lot of money.  Whenever your grocery store is running BOGO offers and other discounts, that is the time to stock up and save big.  Just freeze whatever you are not going to use if it is perishable.  Doing this not only saves money but time.  Think of all the time you will save by not making multiple trips to the grocery store each week.

Stick to whole foods

Buying whole foods is a great way to not only save money but eat healthier.  Items like beans, rice and quinoa are all whole foods that can be used as a hearty base that you can build a whole meal around.  Skip the meat and you save even more money.  Another great side effect is that you will feel fuller longer and in turn snack less.  Hello, even more money savings.