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By Chef Todd Mohr

Leftovers Are Like Finding Money When You Cook On a Budget

I want you to enjoy cooking at home by examining basic cooking methods and perhaps taking cooking classes online to further your journey in your cooking. My goal is to help you pay for these cooking classes by saving you at least that much in your food budget everyday.

Previously, we’ve talked about saving food in purchasing, storing, and portioning to get the greatest effect if you’re cooking on a budget. But, many of these skills take time to develop and perfect. If you’re not cooking like a chef at home yet, the likelihood is that you have some over-purchasing, over-cooking, or over-portioning that has lead to leftovers.

How you use your leftovers can make a great impact on your everyday cooking budget, but there are few recipes that you can find dealing specifically with leftovers when cooking at home.

Here’s where you need basic cooking methods to be able to create something regardless of what the ingredients are. Our online cooking classes concentrate on the basic methods behind cooking that will empower you to create great meals from any of the ingredients you have on hand. This is especially useful when preparing something from the result of your everyday cooking leftovers.

For the best use of leftovers, try to keep ingredients separate before presentation. For example, cook a chicken breast and then top it with sauce, one plate at a time. This way, if you have leftover chicken, it doesn’t have tomato sauce on it and can be made into chicken salad for lunch the next day. Or, it can be shredded and rolled into a tortilla for a burrito, but it won’t taste like last night’s chicken.

You can even plan your leftovers in advance. Using the knowledge of your family’s portions, let’s say you purposely cook ½ pound of shrimp more than you need for tonight’s dinner. You set this over-cooking aside, prepared to make shrimp salad or shrimp tacos tomorrow evening. This not only saves time, but money also by making two satisfying meals, rather than one over-portioned meal and some leftovers that are discarded later.

When you're cooking at home everyday and you're left with leftovers, or have even planned for leftovers, HOW you treat the food afterward can double your savings and protect your cooking budget.

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Can't Cook On a Budget? It's Grandma's Fault.
Spoiled Food Is Stinking Up Your Ability to Cook On a Budget

By Chef Todd Mohr

Can’t Cook On a Budget? It’s Grandma’s Fault.

Cooking everyday at home is a great way to cook on a budget. But sometimes, the habits that we picked up as a kid can be detrimental to saving money on food. Let me explain what I'm talking about - remember the end of most family meals when grandma would push the serving platter at your already loosened belt and waist-band?

“Eat it or it’ll go to waste” she’d always say.

“If it’ll go to waste, what did you cook it for”? was my thought, even as a young kid. “Isn’t there a way to figure out exactly how much you should cook?” I didn't actually say that sentence out loud...I never was fond of the taste of soap. But, it only took my 8th grade math skills to figure out what grandma hadn’t been able to for decades.

The precise portions you feed your family is the basis of cooking on a budget. When you know exactly how much each person will eat, you’ll know how much to buy, and how much to cook, eliminating over-buying, over-cooking, wasting leftovers, or letting food spoil while in your possession.

The average cooked portion is 4 ounces protein, 3 ounces vegetable, 5 ounces starch per person. If your husband is a big eater, adjust upward. If your wife is petite like mine, adjust downward. But, with a digital scale and keen observation, perhaps a notebook, you’ll arrive at the quantifiable amount that everyone in your house eats.

Now, you can begin saving money at the grocery store, or using the money you’ve saved by buying more wholesome, exotic, or expensive ingredients because you know there will be little waste. You’ll also be helping the health of your family buy controlling the amount of food they eat.

In her everyday cooking, Grandma offered you more and more of what she prepared and she did it out of love for you. Today, when you're cooking at home, the best way to show love to your family is by preparing a wholesome meal that is an appropriate amount for all to enjoy, while still being able to cook on a budget.

Related Posts:
Spoiled Food is Stinking Up Your Ability to Cook On a Budget
Grocery Shop to Cook on a Budget

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By Chef Todd Mohr

Spoiled Food Is Stinking Up Your Ability To Cook On a Budget

Food is a constant expense. Every day, three times a day, whether eating out or cooking at home, you have to spend money on food. If you have to cook on a budget, you’re probably very careful about what you bring home from the grocery for everyday cooking, but how do you protect this investment once it’s in your cabinets or refrigerator?

As I have stated before, over-buying is the biggest detriment to cooking on a budget, because most of the food gets wasted. This occurs because when people over-buy, they also over-cook and over-portion which results in eventually throwing out the leftovers. This doesn't have to be the case.

Because of package sizing, you will probably purchase too much for one meal, but make sure that you DON’T over-cook, over-portion and over-eat. You need to understand and follow correct portioning rules for your family. You will also have to make adjustments with the food that you purchase. If you don't, then the asparagus or broccoli that aren’t included in tonight’s meal may be left in the refrigerator. But, 3 days later, they’re limp, mushy, and need to be thrown away. Whether you’ve cooked them or not, the result is the same.

Today’s tips are about extending the shelf-life of the items in your house so you’re not throwing away money spent on food...sometimes food that hasn't even been cooked.

Most plants need air and water to survive.
Broccoli, Asparagus, lettuces, and all other items were living in dirt, soaking up the sun not long ago. If you strangle them in a plastic bag, they’ll steam in their own breathing. That's not good! You have to let vegetables breath in your refrigerator. Take them out of the plastic bag.

Take notice of the root end of vegetables, and give them some water to further hydrate and not dry out. They’ll continue drawing water like fresh cut flowers, and extend the life of the product in your possession.

When you return with more than one meal of protein,
immediately portion for future meals and freeze what you’re not going to use. This way, it doesn’t deteriorate while you make up your mind.

For example, when I make hamburgers, I use 8 ounces of ground beef or turkey. When I get the entire pound, I immediately break this down, and freeze the half I won’t be using.

Protecting your investment in food starts the moment you get your food home from the store. Cooking on a budget demands that you don’t waste food or money by letting it spoil before you get to cook it. Having fresh, appetizing ingredients to practice your craft upon will make everyday cooking a joy.

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By Chef Todd Mohr

Grocery Shop to Cook on a Budget

Cooking at home is certainly more cost effective than eating out. But in order to cook on a budget, it doesn’t mean that you have to buy cheaper food. Generally, cheaper food is less healthy for you, and everyday cooking should call for the most wholesome ingredients you can find.

If you have stress over cooking at home while still cooking on a budget, the first place to start is in the grocery store where your food bill originates. There are some simple ways that you can lower your grocery bill without having to buy inferior products and still make cooking at home nutritious and fun.

First, know your basic portions for the people for whom you cook. The following list gives you the averages for each type of food product that I'm going to discuss today (per meal):

  • Protein = 5 ounces raw protein
  • Vegetable = 4 ounces raw vegetable
  • Starch = 3 ounces raw starch

What this means is that if you’re cooking for four people, 5 ounces of raw protein times 4 people is 20 total ounces. That’s less than a pound and a half total. Now, you have a quantifiable number to buy. Don’t buy the three pound container of chicken breasts, you’ll over-cook, over-portion and waste food and money.

Be able to do some simple math while in the grocery store, because packages are down-sizing. Notice that many boxes of pasta are no longer a full pound. Many have been down-sized to 12 ounces, but the price not down-sized appropriately. You need to figure out the cost per ounce, or some common denominator so you can compare the products correctly.

However, you also have to keep this in mind when you are thinking about portion sizes. In my household, I prepare 5.3 ounces of dry pasta for two people. This gives me three meals out of a 1 pound box. However, if I can only buy a 12 ounce box, it's easy to just make the whole box. Don't! The result will either be that you overeat or have to throw leftovers away. Be aware of the portions and save the uncooked leftovers in the box for another day. Your stomach and your pocket will thank you.

Cooking at home can save you more money than ever when you know your portions. Knowing your portions and paying attention to package sizes will make you able to purchase with your cooking in mind and not over-buy, pay the highest price per ounce, or throw the leftovers away. Your goal for cooking on a budget is to purchase only what you’ll cook, and cook only what you purchase. This is everyday cooking with your budget in mind.

“Burn Your Recipes” and Cook Like a Chef at Home with my cooking DVDs!

The Complete cooking DVDcollection for cooking without recipes.

Leftovers Are Like Finding Money When You Cook On a Budget
Can’t Cook On a Budget? It’s Grandma’s Fault.
Spoiled Food Is Stinking Up Your Ability To Cook On a Budget
Grocery Shop to Cook on a Budget