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Not your mama's bean curd: Making tofu that even the biggest meat lover will crave

By Guest Blogger
at 8:00AM Monday April 14, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Tofu has a lousy reputation. We associate it with 70's health food (read: boring) and jiggly white blocks of flavorlessness.

But what that discounts is the fact that tofu is a super-healthy, lean form of protein that happens to be incredibly inexpensive. We're talking around $2-$4 for enough tofu to feed 4 people.

It's also versatile enough to be worked into just about any dish, freezes well, and is super shelf-stable if kept in airtight container in the refrigerator.

I know, I know. You think it's gross. But bear with me, because with a few little tricks, it can be freaking delicious. In fact, it might just become your new favorite food. Or even—get this—your kids' new favorite food.



Read on for 5 family-friendly tofu recipes that will make you the winner of dinner. Read More »

Pump up your pantry: 10 non-perishable foods to keep on hand for meals in minutes

By Guest Blogger
at 9:00AM Monday April 7, 2014
under Shop Smarter

We've all been there. You really did mean to go grocery shopping this week—you even made a list. But then, it just didn't happen. So there you are, staring at a near-empty fridge, debating picking up the phone and ordering take-out.



DON'T DO IT!

Instead, have a wander over to your pantry, and you'll discover that therein lays a world of culinary opportunities. All you need is a little creativity and some super-basic techniques, and you'll be chowing down on some really good (and-much-cheaper-than-takeout) grub. Here's what to have on hand: Read More »

10 sexy ways to eat your eggs all day long

By Guest Blogger
at 9:00AM Monday March 31, 2014
under Money Saving Tips

A common conundrum for the foodie on a tight budget is the issue of health vs. cost. Sure, free-range, organic chicken breasts are better for you (and tastier) than hot dogs, but money is tight and that ish is expensive.

I don't like to play that game though. For my money, I'll take real, high-quality, inexpensive protein that is versatile, easy to find, and delicious. Enter the incredible, edible (yeah, I went there) egg. 


Perhaps best known for their presence in all things breakfast, eggs are actually ideal for meals spanning the day. And for between $2.50 and $4.50 for 12 of them, they're a heck of a deal. By making eggs the star of plate, you'll find that you can indeed afford nutritious, protein-packed meals that satisfy your palate and keep you full for hours. Read on for 10 affordable and sexy egg-based meal ideas: Read More »

10 best money saving steps at the farmers market

By Guest Blogger
at 8:00AM Monday March 24, 2014
under Money Saving Tips

I've been asked on several occasions for insider tips on money-saving gourmet food shopping. There are many answers. I always recommend Trader Joe's for pantry basics. An herb garden is a wonderful and inexpensive way to always have fresh herbs on hand. A CSA box split between friends can be an affordable way to access fresh, locally-grown produce. But for my money (and time), nothing beats a friendly-vendor-live-music-filled, visit to my local farmers market.

hippie
credit:hsmemes.com

There is a belief shared by many that shopping at a farmers market is more expensive than shopping at a regular grocery store, but I have found that with just a little bit of thought and planning, you can find great deals on fresh, often organic goods, all while supporting your local community and having a heck of a lot of fun. Read on for ten ways to makes farmers market shopping fun, enjoyable and affordable.

farmer's market Read More »

10 amazing wines that cost 10 bucks (or less)

By Guest Blogger
at 6:00AM Monday March 17, 2014
under Money Saving Tips

Americans are drinking more wine than ever before. Between the multitudes of studies linking a daily glass of wine with good heart health and the sheer enjoyment of sipping a nice glass of vino with a delicious meal, this is a good time to get into the grape scene. Even better, the influx of young adults who are getting into wine is leading winemakers to make consumption and enjoyment accessible to people with all budgets.

To find fantastic wines within your budget, head to your local Trader Joe'sBevMo or your favorite wine warehouse and start chatting up a sales rep. Chance are, the person in charge of the wine department knows a thing or two about their products. Let them know what you're looking to serve it for or with (ie: "I'm making pork chops and I'm looking for something to pair it with" or "I need a great, inexpensive sparking white to serve at an outdoor party"), as well as how much you're willing to spend (and be honest!). Really, if you don't want to plunk down more than $8 per bottle, say so. There really are fantastic options for every budget. Read More »

Be the Hostess with the Mostess with Booze on a Budget

By Guest Blogger
at 9:00AM Monday March 10, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Hosting impromptu parties is a whole lot more fun when you already have the beverages on hand. With just a little good planning and some smart shopping, you can be mixing fancy cocktails in no time—all in the comfort of your own home and for less money than you think. I typically buy mid-range liquor brands for mixed drinks, reserving higher-priced top shelf liquors (which I pick up at BevMo, Trader Joe's or warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's Club) for drinking without mixers.

To stock your at-home bar on a budget, you'll need:

Vodka, Gin, Light Rum: $12-$18 for 750 ml.

These are the building blocks to nearly every cocktail—and the most versatile spirits to have around, making them extremely cost-effective.

Recommended brands: Seagrams (vodka and gin) and Castillo (rum). Read More »

5 cheap cuts of meat (and how to make them taste like a million bucks)

By Guest Blogger
at 9:00AM Monday March 3, 2014
under Stuff We Like

When you're trying to grocery shop on a budget, cutting out meat often seems like an obvious first step. With prime cuts costing upwards of $12 per pound, it's easy to feel tempted to fill your cart with Top Ramen.

Not so fast.

With a little bit of simple technique (and I mean simple), it's easy to turn super- cheap cuts of meat into the gourmet centerpiece of your meal. Read on for 5 often overlooked cuts of meat that are both easy on your wallet and pleasing to your belly.

Bone-in Chicken Thighs

About $1.50 per pound

chicken leg

I've pretty much had it with boneless, skinless chicken breast. Sure, it's lean, but how likely are you to stick to a healthy diet if your chicken is as boring as the 4th of July in Canada? Rather, I go for bone-in chicken thighs, or what's sometimes called the "whole leg". It's incredibly cheap, and unlike its boneless, skinless brethren, it's loaded with flavor and just enough fat to keep it moist. It's fabulous grilled with barbecue sauce, but I also love to roast it slathered with garlic, olive oil, herbs, lemon zest, salt and pepper. I throw in a couple of quartered onions and 2 scrubbed, cubed potatoes, and roast the whole thing at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes or so. The result is super-tender chicken with a delightfully crisp skin, and the most flavorful potatoes ever. It's a one-dish wonder for the ages. Read More »

Michelin-quality food on an intern's budget

By Guest Blogger
at 9:00AM Monday February 24, 2014
under Stuff We Like

Let's be honest. The idea of eating gourmet food every day is nice and all, but when it's the end of a long day and you are somehow faced with the task of getting dinner on the table, it can be pretty tempting to just defrost a frozen meal or call out for help (AKA pizza delivery). You want to eat well, but you don't exactly consider yourself a culinarian. And besides, cooking is hard and takes a long time, right? Right?!

Microwave Cooking for One
(photo credit: seriouseats.com)

Wrong.

The truth is, with just a tiiiiny bit of planning and prep, you can kick your food repertoire up several notches, making it taste better, faster. Even if you're lazy, tired and broke, you can cook and eat like someone who knows what they're doing. Read More »

Nice Over Rice: Turning last night's leftover rice into tonight's five-star meal

By Guest Blogger
at 9:00AM Monday February 17, 2014
under Stuff We Like

You know the scenario: you ordered takeout and (with or without the help of others) managed to demolish it all. All, that is, except for one last carton of rice. You know you shouldn't waste food, but you just don't see yourself eating a bowl of plain rice in the near future—especially after it gets hard and crumbly after a night in the refrigerator. You resign to the fact that you'll just have to throw it out.

Not so fast. Within that crappy carton of boring rice, there exists endless possibility for culinary greatness. With just a little bit of creativity and a few minutes of prep, you can be sitting down to a totally new, totally fabulous meal in no time. (And let's be honest, I did the creative part for you here, so you really just have to do the prep). Read More »

5 reasons you should be eating garbage

By Guest Blogger
at 9:00AM Monday February 10, 2014
under Stuff We Like

It's common knowledge that fresh vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet.You know this. This is why you buy, cook and eat them on the regular. Every week, you dutifully fill your cart with your local market's bounty. You chop, toss, roast, and sauté. You feel pretty darn good about this.

But then you go and do a stupid thing: you throw away the scraps.

Dude. Stop doing that.

Fresh vegetables (especially organic ones) can be expensive, and this means you should be making the most of them! So often, their scraps (better known as the parts of produce we tend to immediately compost) can actually be made quite delicious with just a little bit of effort. So delicious, in fact, you might even find you prefer some of these "trashy" preparations to the whole vegetable. Better yet, using every last bit means your money goes further because your veggies yield more meals. You get to pat yourself on the back for helping minimize waste (go you!). Read More »