Home > Personal Finance > 6 Ways to Make Cheap Food Taste Delicious

Comments 0 Comments

If you’re living on a tight budget, you’re probably well acquainted with the bargain bin at the grocery store. You’re constantly on the lookout for the cheapest foods possible, even if that means they’re boring, bland or a bit past their prime.

Here are six ways to make that cheap food a little more appetizing without resorting to buckets of salt.

1. Marinate That Meat

Chuck roast, pork shoulder and chicken pieces are some of the cheapest cuts of meat available. However, they can be boring or, at worst, tough and chewy.

Fortunately, marinades are a cheap way to add flavor as well as improve texture. You don’t want to marinate delicate meats or fish too long, but feel free to leave that chuck roast marinating in the fridge overnight.

Give this technique a try with an easy lemon herb chicken marinade.

2. Sauce It Up

Beans, pasta and rice are all super cheap staples, but they can be bland with a capital B. Instead of serving them up plain or with butter, experiment with sauces to incorporate extra flavor.

The easiest add-in may be stirring in pan drippings from a main dish meat, if you have one, or using a canned sauce. You probably already know about adding a jar of spaghetti sauce to a box of cooked pasta, but don’t be limited by what’s traditional.

For example, try this creamy dill sauce over some rice.

3. Mix In a High-Flavor Ingredient

Bacon is a good example. Cook up a couple pieces and crumble onto salads or soups to give them a little bit of wow. Or chop and fry bacon to be added to pasta and veggies for a delicious pasta carbonara. Bacon can even make beans extra tasty as demonstrated by this red beans and rice dish.

Other high-flavor ingredients include:

  • Herbs and spices
  • Infused oil
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Robust cheese

You may pay more for these ingredients, but a little goes a long way. If they make your cheap meals more satisfying, and your family more likely to eat them, paying for some flavorful mix-ins makes sense.

4. Puree Veggies That Are Past Their Prime

I can’t lie: Fresh veggies are definitely more appetizing and more nutritious. However, that doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up at the reduced-price rack. If your budget is so tight that fresh produce is out of the question, less than perfect greens are better than none at all.

That said, I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw. But you can certainly puree or otherwise cook up veggies to disguise their imperfections.

There are plenty of other sneaky ways to incorporate pureed vegetables into your meals to provide extra fiber (keeps those growing kids feeling full longer) and added nutrition. In fact, some cooks have made an entire career out of this technique.

5. Use Bargain Fruit in Smoothies, Sauces and Jams

Just as you can puree past-their-prime veggies, you can whip up some yummy foods with slightly blemished and bruised fruits.

Making breakfast smoothies seems to be the most obvious method to use bargain fruit finds, but sauces and jams are options, too. For example, in the fall, some stores are practically giving away bruised apples. Grab a bag or two because they are perfect for making Crock Pot applesauce.

6. Tweak Your Technique

Finally, you can make your cheap foods taste better by tweaking your cooking technique slightly.

Consider these flavor-boosters:

  • Brown cuts of meat in a skillet before adding to a slow cooker.
  • Roast veggies rather than boiling or steaming.
  • Cook rice with chicken stock rather than water.
  • Brown butter to be used in recipes and sauces.

These are simple adjustments, but they can dramatically improve the flavor of your ingredients and meals.

Those are my strategies for making cheap food taste delicious. What do you do to keep the cost low but the flavor high?

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

More from Money Talks News:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team