If you want to save money on your groceries, start in the kitchen. Home cooking is one of the best ways to stretch our food dollars. We can prepare make most foods in the supermarket aisles much less expensively at home. When we buy convenience foods, we are paying for the price of someone else cooking for us, plus the cost of packaging, marketing and distribution.
There are other reasons beyond saving money to cook. You can eliminate excess sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and unpronounceable chemicals that are part of many convenience foods. You can fix healthy meals and adjust your cooking to your family’s diet and their likes and dislikes.
And finally, there is taste. A good home-cooked meal is delicious.
If you don’t know how to cook or if you want to expand your skills, there’s lots of help at hand.
Ask friends for cooking tips. Swap tried-and-true recipes. Have a cooking session with a friend. You can dish while you cook a dish.
Check your library for books on whatever style of food you enjoy. If you are new to cooking, look for books that explain basic techniques. The Cooking for Dummies is a good starter book.
When I first learned to cook, my two favorite books were a vintage Betty Crocker Cookbook and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Julia Child’s recipes were lengthy, but she explained why you did each step. Her recipes always turned out deliciously.
Take a class
Look for free and low-cost classes in your area. Health food stores and upscale kitchenware shops sometimes have free demonstrations. Or take a cooking class online.
Watch a cooking demonstration on TV and videos
Cooking shows are a staple on PBS and, of course, on the Food Network. You don’t need cable to watch the Food Network. They have has over 5000 videos online.
Learn from other cooks on forums and email groups
Chowhound is one of the best foodie sites online. Check out their home cooking board.
Those who to cook ahead, might enjoy the Friendly Freezer email group.
If you or a family member is on a special diet, you can find a community of cooks who’ve perfected recipes for that diet. I cook gluten-free and have learned a lot from Baking and Cooking Tips at Celiac.com
Blogs, websites and recipe searches
If you’ve ever looked for recipes online, you’ve come across Allrecipes. They have a massive collection of recipes, reviewed by their readers.
Check out some of the smaller sites too. Karen Petersen blogs about cooking in a slow cooker. Ree Drummond cooks in the country in The Pioneer Women Cooks! Clotilde Dusoulier shares her love of cooking and French flair on Chocolate and Zucchini. Vegetarians and others can enjoy the recipes and gorgeous photos on Vegan Yum Yum
Don’t forget your favorite search engine. Type in the word “recipe” and the name of the dish or some ingredients.
Try new recipes and cooking techniques. Plan a day every week or every other week when you will try something new. Sample and rate the results. Doing is the best teacher of all.