Oct 25, 2010

How to cook with ingredients in your pantry

We all know that by eating out less and and cooking at home more, we can save a little bit of cash on food. But if you like to try out new recipes, you know that buying groceries doesn't always seem cheaper. Sometimes shopping for every single item the recipe calls for can really add up, especially if you don't start with most of the food. The best case scenario is always using up the food you already have in your pantry before shopping for more.

Unfortunately, I often look in my pantry, and as a novice chef, I have no idea what to make out of what I have. Sometimes I try to make dishes up, but this has proven to be unsuccessful and sometimes even disastrous. Luckily there are two websites I've discovered that make cooking good food cheaper and easier.

1)The website I most often use is allrecipes.com. There are a few things I love about this website.

- It can pick recipes based on food already in your home. If you go the site, click on "ingredients" right above their search bar. Type in the main ingredients you would like to use, and voila! It picks out recipes using your key items so you have to shop for less.

-Reviews are right on. Since this is a high traffic site, lots of people rate the quality of recipes. I've found that if a recipe has over 20 or so people rating it at 4.0/5.0 or higher, the final product is pretty delicious. Once I've decided on a dish, I always scroll through the comments where readers post comments on how they tweaked the dish or substituted ingredients and how it worked out. This site is not to be underestimated.

2) Mere minutes ago I discovered a new website I am very excited about. It's called recipematcher.com. I just spent some time registering for the site an entering all ingredients we have in our kitchen via a provided checklist. In return, the site produced a list of recipes that I can make with the food I already have. It stores "my pantry" on the site, so I can just log in and update it as necessary when I eat food or add more ingredients to my kitchen.

This does take a little more time to get set up, but not if you consider the fact that it saved you a trip to the grocery store. Tonight, I think I am going to try the Grilled Chicken with Lemon-Thyme Dressing. It sounds delicious and best of all, I don't even have to go shopping. Woo hoo!

Readers, any other grocery tips to share?
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