Slashing Our Grocery Bills and Cooking on a Budget

Earlier this month, one of our favorite food bloggers, Beth Moncel of Budget Bytes, released a new cookbook with more than 100 recipes geared towards helping people slash their grocery bills. Beth and her publisher were kind enough to give us an excerpt of the intro to her book as well as one of her favorite recipes.

Budget Bytes is available at many of your favorite booksellers.

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I had just earned a degree in nutritional science for which I’d spent considerable time learning how to create healthy meals on low-income budgets. I dutifully employed the basics, like brown-bagging my lunch, avoiding convenience foods, and cooking meals at home, but it just wasn’t enough. Not only was I bored with the food that I ate, but somehow I always seemed to spend more money and waste more food than I meant to or could afford. Certain that I could do more to ease my money problems, I decided to buckle down and crunch the actual numbers . . . like down to the penny. I had taken many foodservice management courses and, while I didn’t particularly enjoy them at the time, the lessons suddenly flashed through my mind. I thought about how commercial kitchens managed expenses by planning menus, calculating recipe costs, and always repurposing leftovers. Maybe I could do the same thing in my kitchen, I thought. I knew it was going to take some effort and serious dedication, but hey, I love a good challenge and I desperately needed to save some money! I can’t lie—the data geek in me was a little giddy with excitement about the project. So, I started planning, cooking, and calculating.

I initially started with the goal of eating on less than six dollars per day, using Excel to track the cost of every single thing that went in my mouth. It was pure nerdy fun and I was totally into it. The calculations were extremely insightful from the start. I quickly learned which ingredients burned through my food budget and which helped stretch it.

Putting my newfound knowledge to work, I was soon cooking twice as much food for half the cost.