The onset of winter weather has prompted a strong desire for comfort food and a desire to curl up. The good news is that stick-to-your-ribs soups and stews may be economical and nutritious in addition to being tasty in this era of inflation and sky-high food prices. In reality, the cheapest items frequently benefit from the low-and-slow cooking style that winter warmers are famous for. Here are a few ideas, suggestions, and dishes to try this winter from Doctors Nova Scotia.
Purchasing more economically priced meat is a dependable approach to lower food prices. For example, chicken chopped into strips for stir-fries costs more per 100 grams than a boneless, skinless chicken breast, which costs more than a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast, which costs more than a full chicken. This is because processed foods typically cost more. If not time, you save money by doing the processing yourself.
Of course, not everyone enjoys regularly cooking whole chickens. I understand. There are many additional ways to save money.
Learn to love legumes
Making meat a “sometimes food” rather than a regular menu item is another way to cut costs. By substituting inexpensive sources of protein like beans and lentils for meat, you not only save your spending but also increase your intake of fiber and other healthy nutrients. The environmental benefits of legumes make it a win-win situation.
Since lentils and beans are common ingredients in cuisines all over the world, why not explore the world at your dinner table this winter? A traditional dish for chilly winter days is pasta e fagioli from Italy, as well as the vibrant, flavorful dal from India.
Shop locally and eat in season
Even in the depths of winter, farmers’ markets offer some goods, believe it or not. This is the time of year to become an expert in various ways to cook and eat hearty veggies like kale, turnips, and winter squash. Even better, by purchasing your food at the farmers’ market, you can avoid the environmental effects of food that has been transported halfway around the world by supporting local farmers and producers.
Embrace life in the slow lane
It’s difficult to beat the Dutch oven, slow cooker, or Instant Pot when it comes to extracting the most flavor out of less expensive pieces of meat or dried beans and lentils. A long braise tenderizes the tissues and transforms that budget cut of meat into something that is melt-in-your-mouth exquisite. Low, slow cooking is the perfect solution for cuts of meat that may be less tender or have more gristle. Start with this meat stew.
Rethink how you use leftovers
The flexibility to use and re-use your leftovers is an additional benefit of purchasing less processed meat cuts. If you roast a whole chicken, you can package the leftovers for use in dinners and lunches throughout the week. The carcass and any remaining vegetable peels can then be combined to make stock for soups and stews. Other bone-in meats like roasts of beef, hog, or lamb also fall under this category.
Buy in bulk and use your freezer
Consider buying in bulk when an item is on sale and freezing what you won’t use right away if you’re not into the “cook a whole chicken” school of menu planning. Just be sure to monitor what’s in your freezer to make sure you use it promptly.
More recipes for the whole family for the winter at https://www.yourdoctors.ca/blog/healthy-living/winter-recipes
Photo by Jill Wellington: https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-liquid-in-white-ceramic-cup-3309664/