We're always looking for ways to cut back on spending, and cooking at home is a great way to do it. Those $13 desk salads and $25 dinner deliveries can really add up. That being said, cooking at home can get boring if you're always buying the same ingredients and making the same few things over and over again. It can also get time-consuming if you're grocery shopping multiple days a week.
But it doesn't have to be this way. In fact, with just a few simple tips, you can go from "Oh man, I need to eat this chili again?" to "Wow, this is delicious (and saved me money!)." Below you'll find four hacks that'll help you grocery shop less while still eating at home more, not to mention a ton of recipe ideas for when you're feeling uninspired in the kitchen.
The Pressure Cooker Is Your Friend
If you're batch cooking, there's nothing better than a pressure cooker. Simply fill the cooker with your favorite protein, whether it's frozen chicken breasts or short ribs, add some stock or even water, and you're all set. Pressure cookers are always a useful medium for making rice or beans, too. You could even mix your meat with beans and whip up a hearty stew that'll last you throughout the week. To amp up the flavor, consider popping in a halved onion, some smashed garlic cloves, and a bundle of herbs.
So Is Your Freezer
To cut down on food waste, save your veggie scraps in the freezer. Everything from onion skins to parsley stems and carrot tops can contribute to a super-flavorful stock made right in your pressure cooker. Once you have enough scraps, place them in your cooker, fill the pot with water, and you're one step closer to healthy vegetarian soups and stews all year long.
Reheat Leftovers Better
The biggest obstacle to batch cooking is the monotony. There are only so many days and nights you can eat the exact same thing. So instead of simply reheating your leftovers in the microwave, which can make them dried out and tough, or eating things cold, get creative.
Got a leftover salad that's starting to wilt? Pop it in a pan and make an egg scramble to give it new life. Or put it into your favorite quiche recipe for a delicious way to start the day. If you're tired of your meat and rice, put it into a hot skillet to make it crispy and add your favorite condiment — like miso or mustard or pesto — and a touch of water to make a sauce.
Consider Your Proteins a Canvas For New Flavors (and Embrace the Rotisserie Chicken)
Focusing on a single, neutral-flavored protein, like rotisserie chicken, can also make weeknight meals simple and delicious. One night you can layer it with cheese and salsa in a tortilla for gooey quesadillas; the next night make a quick vinaigrette for a mayo-free chicken salad. Sauté it with some teriyaki sauce and broccoli for a tasty rice bowl or mix it into your favorite marinara for a protein-packed pasta dish.
On especially chilly nights or if you're under the weather, rotisserie chicken mixed with chicken stock and some cute little noodles can be just what you need to warm up and feel better. And don't forget the carcass! Once you've eaten all the chicken, put the bones in a pot (maybe even your new pressure cooker) with some water, and you'll have the best chicken stock for all sorts of cooking projects.