Diet-to-Go Blog
  1. Get Cookin' with Sally's Money-Saving Kitchen Tips

    We love it when you buy our foods. We're here for you whenever the need arises for healthy and hearty home-delivered or locally picked up meals that meet the guidelines of major health organizations.

    Our meals can help you lose weight, improve your overall health, and survive those busy stretches of life that leave you too little time to food shop or cook.

    But, we do know you don't need us every week, so there will be times that you do need to cook for you or your family.

    And when you do find yourself in your kitchen we want you to continue to eat well -- and to save money while you do.

    With that in mind I turned to my good friend, Michigan food writer Sally Ketchum, for nine great ways to save money without sacrificing quality and taste.

    Take it away Sally.

    "You can make magic in your kitchen by using a few money saving tips," Sally says. "Some tips use ingredients that you have on hand; others might require buying something new, but are items available at any good grocery.

    "Pick the tips that fit your life and your family and start with those. As a food journalist and perpetual kitchen experimenter, I suggest you consider these tips for thrift."

    Kitchen tips for tasty cheap eats

    1. Learn how to make simple sauces, especially white sauce that can be thick or thin depending on how much thickening agent you use (flour, cornstarch, arrowroot, etc.). Budget dishes like macaroni and cheese, chipped beef, creamed vegetables are a snap if you can whistle up a sauce using calorie-reduced ingredients.

    Sauces extend quantities without adding more expensive vegetables and meats. Further, we don't need to use butter in sauces anymore; we can choose from a variety of healthy spreads. I like an olive oil spread.

    2. White sauces are the base for many other sauces. Simply use add-ons for variety-grated cheese, red pepper flakes, herbs, spices and vegetables. Try leftover spinach in a sauce.

    3. Poultry. To prepare poultry for sautéing, skin the meat, but reserve a little of the skin, using just enough of it to serve as the browning fat. When pieces are browned, bake in the oven at 350 degrees until juice run clear. Then use sauce or not.

    4. Experiment with vegetable gravies. Hunt online for recipes at web sites like, or just search for "vegetable gravies."

    Try pureeing cooked vegetables of your choice. Many start with tomatoes; others with onions. Try thickening chopped and sautéed-in-canola-oil onions with flour stirred into buttermilk. Some gravies can be thickened with low-fat cream cheese.

    Compare homemade with store-bought, now often over $2 a jar. V-8 juice is a great liquid to use with a thickening agent.

    5. Use day-old (or 2, 3 or 4 days old!) bread to make croutons. Again, check out the high price of croutons at stores. Easy instructions: Cut bread into cubes of desired size, toss with vegetable or olive oil, sprinkle with herbs if desired, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees or until brown.

    6. Try a tablespoon or so of croutons as a snack food.

    7. Keep pasta salads, served room temperature, in mind. Add in-season chopped vegetables and your homemade croutons. Drizzle with a modest amount of olive oil and toss.

    8. Check day-old produce bins. We don't buy fresh produce every day, do we? Choose greens and vegetables that look fresh and use them within a day or two. Day-old bread is a find, too! Keeps a week in the fridge and freezes fine if properly wrapped in freezer grade plastic.

    9. Buy small containers of herbs and spices that you use infrequently. Purchase larger containers for those used most often like Italian blends, chicken seasoning, steak seasoning, etc.

    From-scratch entrees are not only tastier, but also far more economical than using store-bought ready made packages of stew, chili, stroganoff, and soup mixes.

    Thank you Sally! You remain my food hero. For more on Sally, and to check out her award-winning kids' novel, Bread Garden, go to

    Author: John McGran

    Archived posts 2010
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