Budget-friendly recipes have a misconception of being “flavorless” and “boring” – but we think the opposite! Whole foods, seasonal produce, and frozen items can make the tastiest recipes. Better yet? Whole foods tend to have a wide variety of uses – so you can get incredibly versatile meals with a single ingredient.
How to Prepare Tasty Budget-Friendly Recipes
Here is your step-by-step guide to creating the most delicious recipes on a budget.
One: Choose your ingredients.
Two: Choose your preparation method.
Three: Add budget-friendly flavor!
Choosing your Budget-Friendly Ingredients
TIP #1: Look for WHOLE and LOCAL and find what is ON SALE
On sale means you get a bargain and can freeze some for later use. It’s a win-win. Lower cost and already prepped for later. Less processed foods (ie: whole chicken, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, whole fish, whole fruits/vegetables, whole grains, dried beans, etc.) are often cheaper. This is also true when you buy them in season.
Local and seasonal foods (fruits and vegetables commonly grown in your area) are often cheaper due to abundant availability, shorter travel times, and fewer storage requirements. Choosing foods in peak season also means those foods are fresh and delicious, and you can freeze them yourself for later use. Best of all, you are supporting and investing in your local community.
TIP #2: Use dried, frozen or canned!
Dried, frozen and some canned foods can be healthy, flavorful, options that can be purchased in bulk and stored for long periods of time. As explained in Tip #1, look for whole foods to maximize nutritional quality and minimize cost. Some great options include…
Dried or Canned
- Beans: Dried beans are inexpensive and easy to make at home – see the DIY Beans section of Always Delicious pp. 74-77. You can even make a big batch and freeze a few portions.
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Starchy vegetables: Phase 2 ingredient – cut and steam a few sweet potatoes, or a large winter squash like kabocha, buttercup or butternut when you find them on sale. Again, freeze portions to use later.
If you choose canned pumpkin be sure it is JUST the vegetable (no sugar is added). Occasionally sweet potatoes and pumpkin are sold in syrup or mixed with sugar.
- Fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, etc.) – for a tasty way to use these nutrition-packed canned foods see our In-a-Minute Smoked Fish Pate Recipe
- Eggs (canned quail eggs are Chef Kenzie’s favorite!)
- Fermented vegetables (look for pickled vegetables that have no-sugar added)
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Dried fruit (look for no sugar added)
- Freeze your own when you find large quantities of fruits, vegetables, or meats on sale.
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Starchy vegetables: Phase 2 ingredient
- Mussels, fish (or seafood medleys)
- Grilled Veggies like eggplant, zucchini, or peppers
TIP #3: Look for organ meats or meats with bone-in, skin-on.
Organ meats (ie: chicken hearts, liver, offal, etc.) tend to be cheaper cuts of meat and can contain plenty of micronutrients. Experiment with a few of these options to find new recipes that you love. Alternatively, look for bone-in, skin-on meats such as: chicken thighs, chicken wings, drumsticks, whole chicken/turkey, whole fish, etc. These ingredients can be used in a few different ways (ie: using the skin to make “chips” or using bones to make broth), and tend to be less expensive options.
TIP #4: Add two-for-one flavorings!
Choose flavoring ingredients (acid, salt, and fat) that can be used in many ways. Look for herb-infused oils, no-sugar-added pestos, fresh citrus (to use the zest and juice), seasoned salts, etc. If you’re looking for the basics, just keep a bottle of olive oil, a container of kosher salt, and a bottle of lemon or lime juice on hand. These three ingredients will (surprisingly) add plenty of flavor to any dish.
Breaking Down Chef Kenzie’s Apple Liver Pâté
When building budget-friendly recipes, Chef Kenzie always loves to incorporate BIG bursts of flavor that match up to a few different flavor profiles. She adds acid, salt, fat then picks a unique flavor to highlight.
In this recipe, Chef Kenzie decided to highlight the sweetness of an apple. The sweet notes of cooked onion and apple counter the strong, “iron-like” flavor of liver. If you’re looking for more flavor, you can sauté the onions on low heat for 60 minutes (you’ll need to add a bit more oil) to allow for further caramelization. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a quick-and-easy recipe, 5 minutes is all you need!
TIP: Not a fan of the flavor of liver? Try leaving it in a bowl of milk OR canned coconut milk the night before using. This will help dull the naturally “iron-like” flavor of liver.
Let us Know Your Thoughts!
Let us know what you think of Chef Kenzie’s pâté! Comment your thoughts below or post a picture in our Facebook Group – we always love to see what you’ve been cooking!
Want More Quick-and-Easy Tips? Check out one of our Classes
Check out our downloadable meal planning classes. Each class comes with an eBook including a Specialized One-Week Meal Plan and Prep Sheet, or Specialized Recipes, as well as Additional Resources prepared by Chef Dawn Ludwig and Chef Kenzie Osborne. Each class also has the option to add-on downloadable presentation slides for more recipes and extra resources.