June 2, 2017

Budgeting while enjoying great meals can be a challenge, whether you’re a Colorado culinary arts student of just someone who appreciates a perfectly dry-aged steak. Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic dishes you can prepare without breaking the bank. The key is stocking up on versatile ingredients that deliver plenty of flavor with a low price tag.

1. Chicken

“Buying a whole chicken is a cost-effective option.”

Buying a whole chicken is a far more cost-effective option than picking up individual pieces. Break apart your bird and freeze any parts you won’t use immediately. EatingWell suggested one tasty and low-cost way to put that poultry to work with a recipe for stuffed chicken breast.

The directions call for stuffing the breast with a mixture of Gouda, scallions, pimientos and paprika. Brown the chicken on the stovetop on medium-high heat before moving it into an oven set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. After 15 minutes you’ll have an easy but delicious entree.

2. Rice

Keeping grains on hand ensures you’re always ready to make a quality side dish. Rice can even be a featured ingredient with the right recipe, like the one for vegetarian sushi rolls provided by Epicurious. Prepare a pot of either short-grain brown rice or the quicker cooking white sushi rice, sprinkling it with a mixture of seasoned rice vinegar and soy sauce.

Using a sushi mat, press the rice onto a sheet of nori. Place cucumber, carrot, avocado and radish sprouts on the rice. Carefully roll the sushi and then slice into six pieces.

3. Potatoes

These starchy root vegetables are among the most versatile foods around, and a bag-full comes cheap. There are endless uses for your spuds, but you might want to try Once Upon a Chef’s directions for potatoes au gratin. Either a russet or Yukon Gold variety will work well for this application.

Slice the potato very thinly and place some of the pieces in a baking dish greased with butter. Add  Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and heavy cream mixed with salt and pepper. Repeat to create four layers and then bake in an oven set to 450 degrees for about an hour.

4. Pasta

Your favorite noodles can also be the basis for countless dishes. If you’re sick of the same old tomato sauce, Delish offered an idea for making a more exciting bowl of spaghetti. It starts with creating a pesto by pulsing together kale, garlic, walnuts, lemon zest and juice, Parmesan and olive oil in a food processor.

Roll sweet Italian sausage meat into balls and cook in extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat for up to 12 minutes. When you’ve cooked the pasta, reserve a quarter cup of the starchy water. Combine the pasta, pesto and water, cooking another minute or two on low heat before adding the meatballs and topping with Parmesan.

You learn about a huge variety of ingredients from a culinary academy education. However, you can always save money while crafting exceptional dinners if you have the right items on hand.

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