Do you have a morning ritual? For me, I take a quick shower, and then head for the closet where I pick out my outfit for the day, seat myself in front of my floor length mirror to put on my makeup, and turn on the Today Show. I love watching the Today Show every morning when I’m getting ready for work – It’s a great way to get in my news tidbits for the day. Plus, because I’m definitely NOT a morning person, it’s nice to have the contagious energy of Natalie Morales and Al Roker to help wake me up.
So, I’m super excited to share with you this news! The TODAY Food Club is here! It’s a fun way to learn from the Today Show team of food experts, and cook along with Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Siri Pinter. You can also sign up to receive their super convenient 5-day meal plan and shopping list delivered to your inbox each week. Plus, be sure to enter the Ultimate Cookware and Cutlery Giveaway from ZWILLING J.A. Henckels, to celebrate the launch of the TODAY Food Club – Details below!
The TODAY Food Club challenged me to share with you my favorite tips for cooking and shopping for meals on a budget. And, off course, I didn’t forget the wine! Check out my tips below:
Carb Load - Pasta, pasta, pasta. You can dress up pasta in so many ways on the cheap. Try this Spaghetti with Toasted Breadcrumbs. Pulverize some stale bread to make a crumb mixture, then just add some garlic, butter and red pepper flakes – You’re good to go with a delicious meal that serves a lot and comes in at under $5.00 for 4 generous servings!
Bulk Up – Many grocers have a bulk food section. This is a great place to shop for baking products such as flour and sugar, because you can control how much you buy – No need to buy a huge bag of flour when all you need are a couple of cups. Beans and rice are some other great budget-friendly options to look for in this aisle. PLUS, don’t miss out on the spices! When you have a special recipe that calls for a certain spice, don’t go out and buy a pricey bottle andend up with WAY more than you’ll need. Instead, visit the bulk foods section and grab just as much of that seasoning as you’ll need. Spices tend to go stale after a few months anyway, so it’s great to buy them immediately before you plan on using them.
Get Scrappy – Be sure to save those kitchen scraps. I have a mysterious bag that lives in my freezer. Every time I peel a carrot, those shavings get tossed in. Meat bones? They go in there too. Celery trimmings, onion peels, egg shells – I save it all. Once the bag is full, I dump out the contents into my slow cooker, add water, and let it simmer away on low for a good 24 hours. The result is a beautiful Bone Broth (stock) that you can use as a base for your soups, stews and sautees. And it’s free!
Hunt Down Bargains – My first stop in the meat section at the grocery store is always the mark down bin. Many grocery chains mark down their meat products from 30-50% when they are nearing their "use by" date. I like to snatch these cuts up and, if I’m not cooking with it that night, I throw them into the freezer as soon as I get home. When I plan on cooking with them, I thaw them overnight in the fridge and they are good to go. This is where I generally look for the cuts of meat for my Sunday Gravy.
Soup it Up – Soups are a great option for cooking on a budget. Not only are there lots of great meatless options out there, which helps to stretch your dollar even further, they also reheat extremely well, guaranteeing that you with make the best of those leftovers. Check out this Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup or Roasted Vegetable Minestrone, both perfect options for chilly days.
Wine a Little – I couldn’t leave out how to shop for wine on a budget! Be sure to check out the bottom shelves. Stores bargain on the fact you’re your attention will be focused at eye level, so they prefer to locate the lower priced wines on the lower shelves. Also, If your grocer has a wine steward – Be sure to ask for suggestions! They are there to help, no matter what price-point you’re aiming for. As a final tip, be sure to check out those lesser-known wine varieties – Instead of a Cabernet, try a Carmenere. Instead of Pinot Noir, go for a Grenache. Nix Champagne and go for a Cava. Be sure to check out this post for some of my favorite Rosé wines, all under $10!
To celebrate the launch of the TODAY Food Club, we’re hosting the Ultimate Cookware and Cutlery Giveaway from ZWILLING J.A. Henckels. One lucky TODAY Food Club Member will win:
- Behind-the-scenes access to a TODAY cooking segment
- An all-expenses paid trip to NYC
- $3,000 worth of J.A. Henkels cutlery and Zwilling cookware
Be sure to enter soon! The sweepstakes ends on November 30th.