We should ask our ancestors who lived through times when it was necessary to strive to put food on the table in times of war or any poverty. On the other hand, it was the times when some of the most important recipes of the Italian tradition were born: trying to use ingredients that are more accessible than others, or recycling what is in the kitchen instead of throwing it away, culinary masterpieces. carbonara, panzanella, bruschetta, mozzarella in carrozza, pieces and many other excellent dishes were born.
Cooking on a budget today may have a different meaning than it did 50 years ago. It is worth remembering some tips to save money on shopping and always keep quality food on the table. Here are some signs that are always reliable:
- Use more available or cheaper foods and products: this can mean being careful with the products on offer when shopping, because with a little imagination you can get a good bowl out of almost anything. Opt for seasonal products, those that are more popular at the time, and those that are more locally produced. Also, try to reuse what you have at home instead of throwing it away: you can make dozens of interesting recipes from stale bread (use it in panzanella, bruschetta, but also in soups or fry it).
- Know the cheapest ingredients to base a good meal: even in times of increased shopping prices, there will be products that will be cheaper and cheaper than others with the same nutritional principles and goodness. Pasta, bread, tomato sauce, eggs, vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, seasonal vegetables, some cheeses and white meats have always been the basis of poor cuisine. It can be combined in different ways: a potato omelet can cost less than one euro, as well as a plate of pasta with sauce or onion soup.
- Use your imagination: open the pantry, see what you have (perhaps you bought it last minute) and look for innovative combinations, perhaps with the help of recipes that can be found in cookbooks or on the Internet. This is how some of the most important recipes of our tradition were born.
These are the basic guidelines. If you need some ideas, this is enough to even create a weekly menu:
- Pasta with tomato sauce
- Pasta with garlic and butter
- Egg pasta / carbonara
- Ricotta pasta (with or without sauce)
- Butter paste
- Risotto with pumpkin
- Onion soup (old bread can be reused)
- Bean soup
- Omelet (onions, potatoes, spinach and other greens or vegetables can be used)
- Baked chicken with potatoes (usually the cheapest meat in supermarkets)
- Meatballs with sauce (for a great sauce to season pasta the next day)
- Stuffed Tomatoes (added breadcrumbs, cheese, and flavoring saved Italian tables during the poverty era)
- Roasted vegetables: from cauliflower to dill, just oil, parmesan and breadcrumbs to make a nutritious meal without meat or fish
- Baked potatoes: Being a filling food, it can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as with other vegetables or with tomatoes and cheese.
- Boiled chicken with vegetables: a classic recipe with an excellent broth for cooking better risotto the next day (or by freezing the broth for later)
Among the above suggestions are mostly the cheapest items available. However, let’s remember the importance of a varied diet and therefore make an effort to eat fish and red meat from time to time. You can make targeted purchases when offers are found.