Finding time to cook during a hectic schedule can be daunting. Without careful planning, your body, mind, and wallet all start to feel the consequences. The following are 5 tips to help you make grocery shopping and cooking for yourself fun, healthy, and cost-effective.
#1 Figure Out What You Like to Eat
Most people already know what their favorite foods are, but how many people actually know how to make their own versions of those dishes? Perhaps you know someone who makes incredible meals, ask them to share their recipes. Picking up a cookbook, or even better, looking for recipes and reviews of those recipes online will open up your world to the different options out there.
#2 Grocery Shop Once a Week
This may seem counter-intuitive to having fun, using time wisely, and spending less money. The first step is to buy your basics. This may cost you more time and money upfront, but soon your grocery shopping will consist of picking up only what you need for the week. To save on money without clipping coupons, shop at outlet grocery stores if you have one nearby. Another option is to shop at your local chain grocery store, but make sure you use their discount card and/or their in-store coupons.
#3 Buy More Than You Need, But Not More Than You Can Handle
Buying in bulk, even for one, can have its benefits. The only items you want to stock up on are non-perishable items (canned foods, dried foods like rice, and even some frozen items like frozen chicken breasts). However, since you are still just cooking for one, you need to ask yourself how quickly you might tire of certain foods. For example, if you have stocked up on chicken breasts, rice, and canned or frozen vegetables, how likely are you to eat that every day? Being realistic of your needs will ensure a more cost-effective scenario.
#4 Leftovers Are Our Friends
One of the most costly food/shopping choices people indulge in every day is purchasing their lunch. Taking leftovers for lunch from the night or two before will cut this spending habit greatly. In fact, you can have fun with your leftovers. If you made chicken, rice, and vegetables the night before, this is your chance to throw some salsa or other hot sauce into the mix, put it in a tortilla, add a bit of cheese, and voila!
#5 Spice it Up!
This can seem like dangerous advice for a beginner cook, but the only way you can become a fabulous cook is to experiment with spices. In the beginning, try using spices you know you like. If you are not yet ready to blindly throw spices in food, look at recipes to see which types of spices go with which types of foods (e.g. basil for Italian, chili powder with Mexican, etc.). As you become more proficient in spice-ology, you can begin to experiment with other combinations.