How can I be a frugal chef at home, while still making good food?

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Answered by: Toby, An Expert in the Basics of Frugal Living Category
The value of a dollar is ever decreasing. People are finding any way they can to save. Many are quick to sacrifice one of the more enjoyable factors of life: food. Food is an easy elimination for those looking to save money, but with cutting down on food costs it is sometimes hard to avoid cutting down on flavor and enjoy ability. The truth is, no sacrifice is necessary in the flavor department! By simply understanding the different flavors you enjoy most it is possible to create unique and original meals that are not very costly at all.

By focusing on the desired taste rather than presentation, speed and food quality it is simple to eat like a king on a budget.

First off, spend less on freshness. If you are on a short budget, make it your business to purchase clearance food items or baked goods found in the day old section. These items are just as good as the rest, but in an effort to move them off the shelf before expiration many stores let them go at nearly 50% cost. When transitioning into a frugal chef it will quickly become apparent that food that is inexpensive can taste just as good as or better than the expensive stuff!

Up next, you will need to stockpile your signature flavor. What is a signature flavor you might ask? The signature flavors are the combinations of flavor you enjoy most and could enjoy on a regular basis. Some flavors are overwhelmingly and only enjoyable a few times in a short period. Others are very particular and only desirable on special occasion. For this purpose, as the frugal chef you will need to pick herbs, spices and additives that are diverse and tasty on a variety of different types of food. This part is key, as it determines just how much flavor you can pack into your meals and ultimately how much you will enjoy them.

This next step is where the frugal chef's magic happens. Using your own creativity rather than exact written recipes, test your palette to determine which flavors you enjoy the most. Mix and match, switch it up and try everything you possibly can! Trying every variety of flavor you can produce using your current set of signature spices combined with your choice of groceries will strengthen your sense of taste, and fast! Over time, develop this sense of taste into an accurate measure of how much of each signature spice you are comfortable with, uncomfortable with, and excited for. Once you have determined that sweet spot cooking with cheap ingredients will become quite simple.

The stress of following an exact recipe will disappear as you can depend on your own sense of taste to craft delicious meals using cheap groceries. After you have memorized one set of flavors, rinse and repeat! A frugal chef can never memorize too many flavor profiles. Each and every meal you cook will enhance your skills as a cook and save you more money in the long run. Following this method not only saves you money on groceries over the course of your life, but teaches a valuable skill for useful to any person.

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