Eating at home is generally the healthier way to go and it’s also the more inexpensive option. The average cost of a three-course meal for two at a mid-level restaurant is around $45. However, if you cook that same meal at home, you could easily make it for less than half of that price.
So why doesn’t everyone cook at home all of the time? Well, aside from restaurants serving as a form of entertainment, they also save time and provide us with a bit of a break from all of our day-to-day tasks.
To make cooking more of a fun, creative process and less of a chore, many people try out new recipes on a regular basis. Some recipes contain 20, 30, or even 40 ingredients, and sometimes these ingredients come with a high price tag. Even though a recipe may only require a single teaspoon or a pinch of an ingredient, flavors like vanilla extract or fresh garlic can really add up.
Food prices are also on the rise — the food index rose .4 percent in July alone. According to the BLS, this is the fifth increase of at least .4 percent in the past 6 months. Certain food items are seeing even more of an increase. To help cut costs on these and other food items, we can use substitutes.
This list of food items contains items that have been priced especially high. You can help save on your grocery bill by occasionally swapping these items out for cheaper alternatives.
1. Ground Beef
From meatloaf to burgers to spaghetti, there are endless meals you can make with ground beef. The only problem is that ground beef prices are higher than ever. According to data published on CNS News, “the average price for all types of ground beef per pound hit its all time high — $3.884 per pound — in the United States in July.”
In pastas, you can substitute a frozen bag of spinach for one pound of ground beef and make a meal that’s still tasty for a much cheaper price. Tuna fish, lunch meats, and dark meat chicken can also be used as substitutes in some recipes as well. Check out this recipe from All Recipes, where you can easily substitute the ground beef for spinach.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Directions: Combine ground beef, onion, garlic, and green pepper in a large saucepan. Cook and stir until meat is brown and vegetables are tender. Drain grease. (Instead, sauté spinach and vegetables.)
Stir diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste into the pan. Season with oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer spaghetti sauce for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.