There are some food items that can be very costly, yet add unbelieveable punch to a recipe. If you are trying to stay on a budget, how can you afford these items and still stay fed?
Here are 5 ways to afford the expensive or exotic flavorings that really ramp up the flavor.
Buy Generic - I know, this seems like blasphamy to strict foodies, but things like fancy cheeses, olive oil, nuts, balsamic vinegar (and other vinegars) all come in a generic form. Look for the plain bottles and jars of these fancy flavorings. Yes, they are probably NOT as incredible as the imported variety, but you will never know.
Buy at the dollar store - Again, some of you may be squirming, but the dollar store is a veritable windfall of fancy items in small packages. Pick up anchovies, olive oils, fancy olives and more in these unexpected places. I have gotten two tins of anchovies for $1.00! You only use one or two in a recipe and it makes all the difference in the world for flavor.
Budget in one item at a time - Every time you shop, try to set aside a little money (I try to keep out $5.00 every month), and buy something special. A favorite of mine, is a chunk of good Parmesan. Then, I can shave or shred a bit onto dishes all month, and enjoy the fancy flavor, with little impact to the budget. With items like oils and vinegars, you will still have some left over from month to month, building a supply of these nicer items.
Look in Ethnic Aisle - Most grocery stores have an Ethnic aisle. This is a great place to find items for less money, and also a wonderful chance to try a new food. I also like to ask other shoppers how they use a particular item, expanding my cooking knowledge. Yes, I am THAT woman.
Find Ethnic Grocers - I can undoubtedly buy three times as much Asian foods at the Asian store, as I can at the big box store. It might take me 1/2 mile out of my way, but it's well worth the visit.