10 Ideas: Low-cost Cooking

10 easy-on-the-pocket ideas to help you eat well even if you're on a budget.

July 05, 2012 | by Liezl Yap

Yes, you can eat well even if you're on a budget! All it takes is a little creativity. Here are 10 easy-on-the-pocket ideas to get you started.

Yummy.ph | Food Stories | 10 Ideas: Low-cost Cooking                                                      NEWS FLASH: Potatoes are inexpensive!
                      See how Potato Pancakes are done at #10. To find more potato recipes, click here

1  Soup-er savings
Soups are hearty and usually don't cost a lot to make. Pureed vegetable soups are great because they're easy to cook. Instead of cream or milk, add a peeled and cubed potato. (This makes it more freezer-friendly too.) Another tip: Save your scraps. Chicken bones, as well as vegetable peels and stems (that would otherwise be discarded) can be used to make chicken stock.
(For recipes with chicken stock, click this link)

2  Salad days
Economical cooking can mean healthy cooking, too. Salad greens might be a tad expensive, but arugula and lettuce aside, there are so many other options to explore. Experiment with spinach, or try a cabbage and carrot slaw with mangoes. For dressings and vinaigrettes, skip expensive store-bought versions and simply make your own with what you have on hand. They'll be tastier and even better for you. (RELATED: Tips to Keep Salad Ingredients Fresh, Slaw recipes)

3  Get saucy

Dress up simple dishes by serving them with a sauce that hits the spot, like Sweet and Sour Sauce. For the Crispy Tilapia Tropicale recipe on Yummy.ph, crispy tilapia fillets are taken up a notch with a sweet-sour pineapple sauce. Try the sauce on pork chops and meatballs, too. Go to our website to print out the deliciously simple recipe!
(RELATED recipes: Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce, Fried Fish with Sweet and Sour Sauce),
Sweet and Sour Shrimp

4  Use your noodle
Think of noodles as a gloriously blank canvas upon which you can add bold layers of flavor. And it doesn't always have to be pasta. How about some pad thai? It may sound exotic, but to take the hassle and expense out of making it, you can purchase a ready-made spice paste. Bulk up the dish with tofu, bean sprouts, eggs, and cilantro, all of which can be had for cheap.
(RELATED recipes:
Thai Seafood Noodles with Basil, Pancit Guisado, Pancit recipes)

5  Canned? Good!

Canned goods can be both helpful and tasty…if you use them well. Try this quick tuna bake: Mix together pasta, canned tuna, and vegetables in a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Grate some cheese and mix with milk over low heat to make a quick sauce then pour all over. Add breadcrumbs and more cheese on top; bake. Want to make this a healthier dish? Instead of cheese, use tomato sauce!
(RELATED recipes: 10 Ideas: Cream of Mushroom, 10 Ideas: Canned Tuna, recipes using canned goods)

6  Your daily bread

Keep an eye out for leftovers that can be turned into a whole other dish. Stale bread can be used to make French toast or bread pudding, or cubed and toasted to make croutons for soups or salads, and you can even whiz them up and turn them into breadcrumbs.
(RELATED: 5 Fresh Ideas for Day-old Bread)

7  Go meatless!

Vegetarian dishes can pack just as much flavor as their meaty counterparts. Experiment with different herbs and spices to add pizzazz to what's on the table. Spices can now be purchased in small amounts and at inexpensive prices at your neighborhood supermarket. You'll be amazed at the difference a pinch or two.
(RELATED: Meatless recipes, Meet the Spices)

8  Spring for rolls
Fresh spring rolls are tasty, and by skipping the frying step, you'll be saving money and eating healthier too. For the filling, your options are endless: Add a little cooked ground pork, lots of shredded cabbage and julienned carrots, maybe some spring onions and peanuts. Make a simple dipping sauce by combining peanut oil, soy sauce, and lime juice. Things don't have to be complicated to be delicious!
(RELATED: spring roll recipes, lumpia recipes)

9  Omelets and tortas
Speaking of leftovers, nearly anything can be turned into a tasty omelet with the addition of a beaten egg. But to avoid boredom, get creative. A nifty idea: Make omelets with whatever you've got left over. Place some rice in the middle, roll them up, and serve with tomato sauce for a tasty concoction that the Japanese call "omu-rice."
(RELATED: Torta recipes, Corned Beef Tamago Omelet)

10  Potato pancakes (pictured above)
Potatoes are inexpensive, can be added to almost anything, and make you feel fuller faster. To make these pancakes, peel and grate 7 to 8 small potatoes; toss with the juice from half a lemon. Rinse to remove excess starch, then grate one medium onion and add to the potato mixture. Place the mixture in a salad spinner and spin until thoroughly dry. (Don't have a salad spinner? Place the potatoes in the middle of a large tea towel, gather up the sides, and squeeze the excess moisture out. Repeat several times.) Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and season with salt, pepper, juice from half a lemon, and garlic powder (optional). Add oil to a frying pan over medium heat then add a cupful of the potato mixture, flattening it with a spatula to make a pancake. Fry for 2 to 4 minutes, then flip to cook the other side. Repeat with remaining mixture. Transfer to a plate; serve with sour cream and garnish with a sprig of dill.
(RELATED recipes: Potato and Onion Torta, Rosti Potatoes, and more potato recipes)

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Photography by Aldwin Aspillera | Styling by Liezl Yap


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