Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Learn To Cook

Saving Money Tip #127 - Learn To Cook. There are some skills that will serve you your whole life. Learning to cook is one of them. And it will not only serve you but it will save you money. Consider the alternative, which is eating out in restaurants and you are spending two to four times what it costs to make the same meal at home. Start out by learning the basics – either from reading a book, having a friend teach you or by taking a cooking class. Learn to boil pasta, cook eggs, and clean and make chicken, among other things. Once you have the basics under control you can make simple meals at home. Even eating scrambled eggs at home will save you a lot of money from eating out breakfast.

Next you can progress onto more intermediate cooking – such as making meatballs, making casseroles, and putting together meals. At this point you might become comfortable enough to start experimenting with your cooking. By using trial and error you will learn what works and what doesn’t. What you like and what you don’t. Sure you will make things that don’t turn out, but that’s all part of the learning process.

Once you have regular cooking skills and recipes mastered, you can learn even more sophisticated cooking techniques such as making sauces and marinades, different cutting techniques, and baking bread. You can customize what you learn from your tastes. Love pasta? Learn how to make it from scratch. Like eating bread – learn how to make it homemade. Or you can try to learn ethnic cooking such as Chinese, Indian, Italian, etc. The more things you can cook, the less you will want to eat out. You will not only gain a valuable skill, you will save a lot of money.

In Real Life – I’ve always known how to do very basic cooking such as making eggs and boiling pasta. I got by with very elementary cooking techniques and ate out for food I could not make. But then when I became a stay-at-home mom, I realized I have more time on my hands (and less money) and started experimenting in the kitchen more. I learned how to bake bread and cook chicken. I tried my hand at homemade pizza and pretzels. I attempted some ethnic dishes for meals such as homemade burritos. And while I only consider myself to be an average cook in the skills department, I find that I can make many more things at home that I used to eat out. They cost less, taste just as good, and I know the ingredients that go in them. And while we enjoy eating out, I find that it’s harder and harder to pick a place to eat at. Pizza? I make that at home. Burritos? I make those, too. So eating out has become less frequent for us, saving us a lot of money.

The best part about learning to cook is you don’t mind buying more expensive ingredients in the supermarket. Steak at home is still a fraction of the price of eating it out. Our food bill has actually gone down over the years as I learn how to cook more things even though I buy better ingredients. I realize not everyone enjoys cooking or has the time to do so. But if you think you would like it, don’t be afraid to learn new things in the kitchen. There are so many resources on the Internet: allrecipes, recipezaar, and fabulous cooking blogs such as smittenkitchen. For more frugal kitchen tips, go to one of my favorite cooking blogs, tammysrecipes and you might find yourself whipping up some yummy meals, too. And don't forget all of the money you will be saving!

1 comment:

Traci said...

Nice post- I find that sticking to simple recipes works for my family. Anything with too many ingredients and too complicated scares me off anyway. We have several recipes that we rotate such as, Lasagna (Meat or Vegetarian), Chicken in the crockpot with BBQ sauce or just Italian dressing works well, Lean ground Beef or Ground Turkey dishes, Beans and rices flavored differently are easy to prepare, Steamed Veggies and Sauted Veggies are always good. I have even learned to prepare Tofu which is inexpensive and healthy. I use All Recipes dot com also. Eating at home saves so much and also the family really appreciates it. I love my crock pot. This is by far my favorite kitchen item!