How to use Ten Dollar Dinners


bensound-funnysong  Cooking on a budget should feel great —- I feel empowered knowing that I spend my family’s resources wisely and still cook fantastic meals.  What I hope you will take away from reading the blog is that you can serve exciting, fresh and tasty food without sacrifice.

Eating well on a budget is about saving money at the supermarket and using what you have at home to your best advantage.  Here are ten ways to get started —- incorporate them into our shopping and meal planning and the will pay off handsomely!

   The Dinners in 10 Dollars Top 10 List:

1.  Try a clear-the-pantry week.  This is a great plan for when you need a quick hit of major savingsstock-photo-kitchen-organization-home-organized-pantry-cleaning-mason-jar-organizing-f72488f8-14a3-4961-a208-17944543ef4f (such as after the holidays or an unexpected expense).  When I do this, I easily uncover hundred of dollars I didn’t need to spend!  Remember that you “pantry” includes your freezer so you can defrost frozen bags of soup, meatballs, or packages of chicken that you have stowed away for a rainy day.  Take a tour of your kitchen pantry and write down the major ingredients lurking around.  Use this list to create a menu for the week.  It’s a fun challenge to see how long you can go without buying new food items (beyond the few necessary perishables, such as milk and eggs.

2.  Incorporate bean night once a week.  Dried beans are super cheap (and canned pexels-photo-142579beans are inexpensive, too), incredibly healthy, and delicious!  This frugal protein can easily be turned into dinner and will save you so much money compared to serving chicken or beef.  By the way —“bean” night can mean any inexpensive protein such as whole-grain pasta, eggs, lentils, or other legumes.

3.  When entertaining, fit inexpensive proteins into the first course.  Buffets always temptstock-photo-pink-eggs-brunch-5f046275-ede7-4323-9587-c528de358c5f diners with delicious yet cheap-to-make items at the front with the pricey showstoppers, such as prime rib, at the end of the line.  I follow their lead when entertaining.  Starters like White Bean Tapenade Crostini or Lentil and Celery Salad are cheap to make, delicious and satiating so a pricier yet smaller second course like Shrimp Scampi Linguine will seem incredibly satisfying and plentiful.

4.   Splurge smart in the produce aisle and make a fresh vegetable the star of a dishvegetables-vegetable-basket-harvest-gardenBuying just a handful of a pricier vegetable is a smart way to add a touch of luxury to dinner without breaking the bank.  Just a few ounces of expensive wild mushrooms is enough to make an impact.  Buying a small portion of pricier fresh produce — perhaps a small amount of baby arugula or a beautifully bumpy heirloom tomato —-allows you to treat yourself without blowing your budget.

5.  Stretch expensive ingredients alongside inexpensive ones.  Bulking up pricey pexels-photo-130980ingredients with less expensive ones is a great trick for serving shrimp (or other pricey proteins) while not overspending at the market.  Beans rice, pasta and cheap vegetables such as cabbage are great for making a small amount of costly fennel or leeks seek plentiful and abundant.

6.  Use the bulk aisle in surprising ways.  Buying large quantities in the bulk aisle pexels-photo-264636will save money, but it’s only half the story—-you can also buy small quantities in the bulk aisle.  A handful of hazelnuts from that aisle will set you back only twenty or thirty cents—-toast, chop and sprinkle over green beans or in a cheap lettuce salad and you have a fancy restaurant-worthy dish.

7.   Keep flavor enhances in the freezer.  Bacon, fresh ginger, nuts, grated, cheese stock-photo-food-kitchen-drink-open-shelves-organized-beer-groceries-fridge-c59b6f23-e4a0-4eb8-8d30-d6f632594531and even leftover wine (for cooking) keep exponentially longer in the freezer than in the fridge.  Store in the resealable freezer bags so you can easily add just enough to brighten, deepen, or add a textural component to a recipe.

8.  Take an expensive “standby” favorite dish and give it an ethnic makeoverpexels-photo-277253Meatloaf,  meatballs, chicken soup, and chili are all crowd-pleasing recipes that easily can take on a flavor boost from the nice ingredients.  Cilantro, curry powder, chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, coconut milk, and salsa are all ingredients that are easy add-ins to change the taste of a dish just enough to regret it and give it new energy.

9.  Never throw away a source of free flavor.  Ingredients that give you double the pexels-photo-635537mileage are pure gold for budget cooks.  Lemon offers lemon juice and lemon zest.  I make good use of squeezed lemon halves and freeze them in a resealable freezer bag to zest another time;  I also often dry lemon zest in a low-temperature oven and store the dried zest in a glass jar or spice shaker.  Buy shrimp with the shells on and make a quick shrimp stock from the shells.  Buy celery with the leaves still attached— they’re a great substitute for parsley.  Beets with beet tops, fennel and its fronds, Parmesan rinds (add to pasta sauce or broth for a rich, nutty taste),  and even mushroom stems (they add tremendous depth to vegetable broths) are all great sources of flavor for which you don’t have to pay an extra dime.

10.  Once a week quicky tally your perishables and create a five-minute menu planstock-photo-food-kitchen-girl-hungry-eating-toddler-fridge-refrigerator-88562d7e-0484-4f11-bb9f-d7cab7a74533The most expensive ingredient is the one you throw away.  So take a few seconds to check through your crisper drawers and see what’s lurking in the back of the fridge.  Let your inventory review drive your week’s menu.  If all you have are odds and ends, make an anything-goes soup or pasta sauce! your menu plan doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective.


Kitchen Tools

Top 10 Kitchen Gadgets for Daily Living

The popularity of channels showcasing chefs and their culinary expertise is on the rise. People enjoy watching the likes of Ree Drummond and Bobby Flay. They are enamored by Guy Fiere and Anne Burrell. This love of culinary artistry is being translated to the kitchen and more people are becoming interested in the kitchen Tools that modern-day chefs use.

Of course, not every homemaker and wannabe cook has the finances to acquire the high tech gadgetry provided for these famous chefs. But that does not mean the kitchen has to stay sterile and bland. There are a number of great kitchen tools that are readily available to those who would like to add a little flair to their kitchen accomplishments.

Top 10 Kitchen Gadgets for Daily Living

These tools will help when one is trying to live holistically. They are essential to the preparation of a number of healthy dishes and can certainly make the kitchen look a lot more like those seen on TV. Obviously lesser known brands are available and can provide nearly the same quality for considerably less money. That said, here are the top 10 kitchen gadgets for daily living:

Vitamix Professional Series 750 Brushed Stainless Steel Blender With 64 Ounce Wet Container and 48 Ounce Wet Container

1. Blenders –   Get your money’s worth out of a high-speed blender. Yes, these are more expensive than traditional kitchen blenders, but if you use it on a regular basis you will be glad you opted to put out a little more cash. You will be able to make soups, nut butters, smoothies, homemade mayo, and a host of other silky delicacies with the assistance of this little gadget. Go check this link out for the best reviewed a lot of people who bought.  The greatest blenders I love to use and recommend.  Not buying right now no problem add them to your cart and get back whenever you are ready.


2. Knives –   If you have ever had to saw through a piece of meat, or hack at one, you will recognize the import of good knives. We recommend acquiring chef grade knives. Additionally, we suggest that you have an 8 or 10-inch butcher/chef’s knife, an 8-inch serrated knife, and a 4-inch paring knife. If you have cheaper versions of everything else, these should get you through all the restaurant quality cooking you intend to do. Go check this link out for the best reviewed a lot of people who bought. KnivesNot buying right now no problem add them to your cart and get back whenever you are ready.

3. Cast Iron Skillet – These are durable and when seasoned properly they are the only truly non-stick cooking utensils on the market. Today’s non-stick pots and pans are actually guilty of releasing some serious toxins into your food when you cook with them. You should definitely consider getting rid of them and replacing them with cast iron cookware. Go check this link out for the best reviewed a lot of people who bought  Cast Iron Skillet Not buying right now no problem add them to your cart and get back whenever you are ready.

4. Storage Containers – Make sure you stock up on glass storage options to eliminate the potential for toxic exposure via plastic versions. You can use them for salads and make-ahead oatmeal/yogurt breakfasts. And, when you employ that high-speed blender to make nut butters, these glass storage containers will be your best options for longevity. New Arrival Storage Containers These are the best-reviewed storage containers. Not buying right now no problem just add to your cart and get back later wherever you are ready.

5. Lidded Sauce Pans – Get a number of different sizes. These are useful when you are making homemade soups and sauces. Since they do come in a variety of sizes and money might be limited, we suggest you at least have a 1 ½ quart and a 3-quart version. Lidded Sauce Pans five star best reviewed Sauce Pans.

6. Cutting Boards – You do not want to do all your cutting on your countertop. You will inevitably scratch it or damage it in some way. Therefore, it is imperative that you get a cutting board. These are made out of various materials and can be relatively inexpensive depending on the material you choose. Keep in mind that some materials are actually really good at holding onto germs and bacteria, so do your research before you make a purchase. Cutting Boards

7. Crockpot – These slow cookers are absolutely necessary in any kitchen. They can help you prepare meat while you are at work. They are also phenomenal when it comes to making homemade chili and soups. People also use them to make stews, overnight oatmeal, and fruit butters. They are invaluable in the kitchen. Crock Pots.

8. Baking Pans/Sheets – You can get these in full and half size. They are excellent for baking. They can be round, square, rectangular, or any number of shapes. Plus you are going to want to make cookies at some point and the baking sheets you own will undoubtedly get plenty of use. Baking pans and Sheets.


9. Measuring Tools – You cannot bake without the assistance of measuring tools. Like many kitchen utensils, these tools come in a variety of materials. And sometimes they are even in different shapes. We have seen square, round, and heart-shaped measuring cups and spoons. Our preference is almost always metal versions because the likelihood of germ contamination is considerably less. Wood and plastic have their own issues, but glass works well too. Measuring Tools.

10. Mixing Bowls – Glass and stainless steel bowls are always better than the plastic variety. There will be times when you want to keep your mixing bowl on the stove and if you are not careful a plastic bowl will melt. We know this from our own experience. And, as we have said previously, utilizing glass and metal is a better option for keeping your foods toxin and germ/bacteria free. Mixing Bowls.

While stocking your kitchen with these highly recommended kitchen tools is certainly a good idea, there are some other steps you should take to ensure you become the best chef of your home. Consider investing in some well-known and highly regarded cookbooks. You could purchase books by the people we listed in the introduction. These chefs are revered for their extreme giftedness in the kitchen.

And, if you need a few more kitchen tool suggestions we would recommend you consider purchasing a  Bread Maker Machine and a Pizza Stone. When you start to delve into the world of homemade bread you will wonder why you ever bought store bread. Additionally, if you purchase a pizza stone you will be better prepared to make that cauliflower crust pizza you have been considering. Who knows, you might even be able to learn a thing or two about pizza dough amidst your bread making endeavors. The kitchen tools included in this article will certainly get you well on your way to having an enviable culinary space.

bread maker .        

Cook Books

A cookbook is a kitchen reference publication containing a collection of recipes, typically organized by type of dish.

Modern versions may also include colorful illustrations and advice on purchasing quality ingredients or making substitutions. Cookbooks can also cover a wide variety of topics, including cooking, techniques for the home, recipes, and commentary from famous chefs, institutional kitchen manuals, and cultural commentary.

I want my recipes to be clever examples of a bigger story, a celebration of resource responsibility and spending with a purpose.  Saving money can be incredibly empowering, and it feels good to know we are spending wisely. I consider myself the luckiest cook in the world.  I have my very own test kitchen “staffed” by my daughter-chefs and the world’s most supportive husband.  We don’t overspend and we love food that nourishes our bodies and our souls.  I believe in the power of the family meal and making them happen as often as possible.  I hope that with this cookbook, you will find many fantastic recipes and mealtime strategies that help you get dinner on the table and guide you to living and eating better.

Books you will love

Check out the books that you would like to gift or keep one for yourself.  These are the books I would recommend.


Books you will love