It's no secret that eating on a budget often ends up in eating a lot of processed food. Fruits and vegetables, especially if they're organic, are more expensive than most food you'll find in a bag. A study released last year in the British Medical Journal found that it costs $1.50 more a day, or $550 a year, to eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables over one packed with processed foods -- and that doesn't account for any health care costs that might come from eating poorly.
Eating on a budget doesn't have to leave you confined to mostly processed food, however. Nor does it have to be a chore. If you stick to a few "commandments" of budget eating, you can build a foundation from which eating well and cheaply will follow easily. Planning in advance, to avoid impulse buys but also to maximize your ingredients, is the first rule by which to live. Other commandments include buying in bulk, using ingredients you can stretch -- like one roast chicken to make 17 meals -- and never letting anything go to waste, which will likely involve getting to know your freezer a little better and making use of food parts like broccoli stems and radish tops. It may sound daunting, but luckily you've got a world of food bloggers to help you out. Here are seven of the best food blogs for eating on a budget.
Didn't we say eating on a budget doesn't have to be boring? These Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites
from Budget Bytes
are here to back us up. Budget Bytes is one of the great ones. It's so great, in fact, it's been turned into a cookbook, which, among many recipes, features a great guide for stocking your kitchen
-- perhaps the most crucial step of committing to cooking on a budget. Once you're prepared, it'll be easy to follow awesome recipes, like Budget Byte's Parsley Salad With Almonds And Apricots
or Easy Sesame Chicken
. In addition to a "kitchen basics" guide, Budget Bytes also has a very comprehensive list of principles
for eating well on a budget, which explains strategies like "shopping wisely" and the "freezer is your friend." We love this blog because it not only has excellent recipes with great photos, but it's also very methodological. Every recipe includes the price of each ingredient, the price of the recipe as a whole and the price per serving. It's hard to do much better than that.
Cathy Erway started her blog Not Eating Out In New York
after "going AWOL from eating restaurant, take-out, or street stand food throughout the five boroughs of New York City" from 2006 to 2008. Her blog, which turned into her book, "The Art of Eating In
," features recipes that she thinks are worth skipping the NYC restaurant scene and eating in for. In other words, they're pretty darn good. Recipes like Grilled Steak “Shoulder Bites” with Chimichurri
and Roasted Eggplant “Salsa”
and Curried Carrot Soup with Red Lentils
strike a good balance between sophisticated and homey. Erway lists the cost of all ingredients as well as the total price of the recipe. She also rates her recipes based on health and environmental costs. On top of offering all of these guidelines for her recipes, Erway also shares inspirational reasons for not eating out
, beyond just budgeting. For example, reason 52 is that you can better enjoy the seasons by cooking at home. She knows her urban audience needs consistent reminders to stay in and cook when it's too easy to just eat out.
The 99 Cent Chef
may not look as pretty as some of the other blogs, but what it lacks in glossy photos it makes up for in useful GIFs and videos. Blogger Billy Vasquez has a great sense of humor -- he says he "takes the haute out of cuisine" -- and makes eating on a budget fun and entertaining. His recipes consist of ingredients that either cost 99 cents each or 99 cents per pound. They range from spruced up breakfasts like Fried Egg on Breadcrumbs with Asparagus
and classics like Patty Melts
and Fish and Chips
, to homemade versions of store-bought foods like Roasted Creamed Corn
and even Egg McMuffins
. He's also a big fan of seasonal produce as a means of budgeting as well as adding flavor.
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