Eat Like A Foodie On A Budget
This generation has retained an appreciation for fancy dishes through a recession and increasing economic uncertainty, and today, millennials are known for their tendency to identify as “foodies” and post photos of their meals to Instagram.
Food has been suggested to be a luxury symbol for millennials, in how they flaunt it to how they order it.
Good food can be a luxurious experience, but it doesn't have to come with a luxurious price tag.
The world of fine cuisine has become increasingly accessible in recent years, and it is no longer is reserved for the wealthy.
Eating good food can be done on a budget and with proper planning, but you have to know where to go and what to get.
1. Buy for quality, not quantity.
One of the key aspects of good cooking is good ingredients. The quality of what you put into a dish is intrinsically connected to how they will taste when they come out, which means making sure you buy good ingredients to begin with.
Kosher salt will be more adaptable and flavorful than plain table salt, and locally grown, fresh vegetables will likely taste crisper, cleaner and better than vegetables that have been transported by truck over a long distance.
(Plus, a local farmer's market might provide better deals than the grocery store.)
A good quality wine will taste better than a generic cooking wine, which can cheapen a dish and bring unpleasant acidity or bitterness. So, why buy a cooking wine at all?
Don't complicate your ingredients, either.
Pick one kind of salt, one kind of olive oil and one kind of wine.
Don't worry about which version is best for which dish if you aren't cooking a broad menu. Just pick a good performer, and it should last you throughout a variety of dishes without losing its good quality and flavor.
2. Learn how to work with cheap meats.
Although good quality can save you on some dishes in the long run, your budget needs a break somewhere for you to sustain a budget-friendly diet.
Cheap cuts of meat have their place in a foodie's diet, as long as you know how to adequately transform them.
Buy your meat as unprocessed as possible, even the cheap cuts.
That means heading for a local butcher when possible and buying in whole pieces, bone-in. This gives you the flexibility of using much more of a cut than a processed cut can offer.
Once you have your cheap protein, use cooking techniques like braising and slow cooking to bring out whatever tenderness you can.
Skirt steaks and chicken thighs are highly flavorful, but relatively unpopular cuts of meat. But, they're both adaptable to a wide variety of dishes and can release an immense amount of flavor through slow cooking.
Indeed, these cuts have become quite popular among many of the best restaurants in cities I've visited recently because modern cooking techniques, such as sous vide, mean they can be rendered just as delicious as any prime cut.
Short ribs braised, roasted or thrown in a slow cooker can pass can compare to cuts of meat.
The right cooking technique will stretch out your budget and transform your ingredients.
3. Shop seasonally and in bulk.
The best way to ensure you're getting good quality ingredients and that you'll be able to spice up your food at home is to ensure you buy organic, locally grown food that's in season.
This means doing research before creating your shopping list.
What food is at its peak? Consider incorporating that into your meals for the week.
This will ensure you only introduce flavors when they're at their peak and at their cheapest.
In addition, you should also make sure to buy in bulk, even when buying a new ingredient.
Pressure yourself to get through a particular produce before it goes bad. It encourages you to experiment with it and ensures your next batch of dishes all take advantage of seasonal flavors.
Bulk shopping means you should also look at ingredients like rice, legumes and other grains that provide easy flavor and variety without going bad or out of season.
These will offer bulk to your diet without needing to worry about the quality of your ingredients changing throughout the year.
Carefully planning your ingredients based on when they're most widely available and at their peak, how versatile they are and how much you can get out of it will help your home-cooked meals take on the star qualities of the delicious food you have on your Instagram account.