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5 Tips for Cooking on a Budget (and a book update)

Things may have been quiet on the blog this past week, but behind the scenes things are starting to heat up on the book front. First, an advance copy of my book arrived in the mail last Monday! It was jarring (pun intended) to actually see The Canning Kitchen in print and feel its weight in my hands. Family and a few friends have seen it so far, and I'm feeling excited about moving on to this next stage of sharing the book with all of you (and basically anyone else who will listen).

Some book tour dates are in the works for this spring and summer! I will be coming to Toronto in June, and visiting a few other Ontario spots while I'm there. Check back soon for a list of dates and locations for the book tour. If you want to buy the book at a deal price before its release on June 9th, The Canning Kitchen is available now on presale.

Interest in the book is starting to build. I'm thrilled to bits about being invited for an interview in June with Gail Vaz-Oxlade on her Toronto radio show. How much do we love her?! I just adore her no-nonsense financial advice on her TV shows 'Til Debt Do Us Part and Princess. I'm pinching myself that I'll get to have a good ol' canning chat session with her on NewsTalk 1010.

A little closer to home, I was interviewed recently by the lovely and talented Astrid Braunschmidt of CTV Vancouver Island. She came to my home for a segment about cooking for a family on a budget. My youngest son was delighted to have a TV camera coming to the house and waited excitedly at the window for the truck to arrive. 

My little guy happily helped me make popcorn to show our friends in TV land how making some things yourself at home, instead of buying them prepackaged, can be a real money saver. The segment aired last night, and you can view it here.
For those of you reading along at home, here are the tips I shared:
5 Tips for Cooking on a Budget
1. Make it yourself
Some basic cooking skills can save you thousands of dollars a year when feeding a family. Choose some pre-packaged convenience foods to start making yourself at home, such as soup, pizza, muffins and popcorn. Get my simple recipe for Perfect Popcorn that costs just pennies a bowl, and tastes so much better than the microwave stuff.
2. Plan meals around what you already have
Families throw out a lot of food, particularly produce that has spoiled before we get around to using it up. When planning dinner, start by having a look through your refrigerator to see what can be used before buying new groceries.

3. Keep a well-stocked pantry
In business, they say you have to spend money to make money. In cooking, sometimes you have to spend money to save money! By keeping the pantry well stocked with basics such as oils, vinegars, rice, lentils, pasta and canned goods, meals come together quickly because you're ready to cook without first having to make a trip to the grocery store.

4. Use inexpensive ingredients often
Homemade oatmeal at breakfast is both cheap and healthy. Other low cost ingredients include eggs, dry beans, lentils, pasta and frozen vegetables. Breakfast for dinner of scrambled egg hash or omelettes can be fun and low cost. Tree fruit like apples and pears are inexpensive and good for snacking or turning into a variety of simple and delicious desserts.

5. Preserve it!
Over-buy fresh produce when it's in season and preserve it for another day. Homemade applesauce can be canned for pennies a jar, or try your hand at canning dill pickles when pickling cucumbers are in season in mid summer. Freeze berries when they're at their best prices for use in smoothies, pancakes and muffins the rest of the year.

What's your best tip for cooking on a budget?