I typed up some tips for a friend today, and figured I should share them with you all as well! Here they are:
I don’t always keep fresh veggies and a couple of other odd ingredients on-hand (because they go bad so quickly), but I still use several recipes that call for them; I just have to make a quick trip to the store first.
I always use the cheap version of everything. If a recipe calls for chicken wings, I use thighs, etc.
Also, I never use a whole pound of meat. I will buy a 3-lb. frozen roll of hamburger, cook it all, drain the fat, and divide it into 5 baggies. I refreeze those, and use one portion when it calls for a pound of beef. With chicken, I always just buy a big bag of thighs. When the recipe calls for a pound of chicken, I just take one piece out of the bag and boil it. (I do everything the easy way, lol.) Then I tear it in pieces and toss it in with the rest of the recipe.
Also, a lot of times, I’ll just use whatever type of cheese, veggie, meat, or filler (beans, rice, pasta, potatoes) that I have on-hand or that I need to use up. I don’t always follow the recipe. (Except for spices – I am terrible at guessing at those! Lol.) I also like to stretch recipes by adding extra filler.
I always use lemon juice instead of lime because it’s cheaper, and it keeps for a long time in the fridge.
You can get enchilada sauce in the Mexican aisle at Wal-Mart. I think it’s cheaper than making it at home or from the mix that ALDI carries sometimes.
You can substitute refried beans for hummus. It’s good both ways.
When you make homemade pizza, you can cook Italian bread slices for 10 minutes or so, then add the toppings (tomato sauce, pizza spices, and any combination of veggies and meat). You can add the toppings before baking, but the bread might be a little moist when it is finished. I like it either way. Also, I always just allow my family to pick and choose from the veggies I have on-hand, and each family member makes their own unique mini-pizzas. This idea also works with tortillas, if you don’t have any bread on-hand.
I hope you find a few of these ideas helpful! Let me know if you have any more to share!