I’ve talked about money saving tips on meats by buying larger cuts on sale and doing your own cutting, chopping and grinding afterwards.
Later on, my mind goes to turning the purchased proteins into something tasty and memorable. I consider how to cook it, what spices and condiments to use, and whether I can use fresh ingredients. By using fresh rather than boxed or canned you control the amounts of additives in your diet. Additionally, for purposes of preservation, most of the flavor has been cooked out of pre-prepared food. Companies often add salt, sugar and other ingredients to bring back some of the flavor and make it palatable.
Spices in jars are expensive. That is a proven fact. Often times they are stale because in reality we don’t really know how long they have been packaged for. The ‘best if used by’ dates are often out to several years. Believe me I know. They are so expensive I was hesitant to throw them away, sometimes even after a few years mainly because I didn’t use enough of them to replenish!
Instead, I purchased a Krups coffee/spice grinder for about $19.00. I suggest this one because I have used it for years and it is one of the most inexpensive out there. By using it I take advantage of less costly bulk spices for a much better and fresher product. The best example is here is the use of peppercorns.
While pre-ground pepper is very cheap, it’s also ‘dead’ in terms of flavor and the oils inside that allow the flavor components to remain active. I suspect it’s actually the sweepings off the spice company’s floor! Instead, simply buy whole peppercorns in bulk. Throw them a couple tablespoons at a time into your grinder. I was amazed at the results. From the first time you will notice the wonderful difference in the smell. It will also lessen the amount needed in a recipe.
Consider some other bargains at the bulk counter that don’t even need grinding.
Fennel seed sold in a glass bottle is minimum $2.00 an once, bulk it is $.25 an ounce.
2 ounces of dried parsley sold in a glass bottle is $2.00, bulk is $ .17 an ounce.
A glass bottle of the ‘fancy’ ground cumin is $4.39 for 1.5 ounces. Whereas the same 1.5 ounces in bulk is $1.40.
These are only a few examples. But you get the idea. Check out the stores where you do your shopping. Most are putting in bulk spice sections as well as dry good sections for beans, rice, coffee and others. If you don’t see them, look in the ‘health food’ aisles, sometimes they put them where people can buy oats, granola, and natural remedies in bulk.
These are nice because you can purchase just the right amount that you need for your recipes. Of course there won’t be any packages or bottles for them. I am sure there will be some in your kitchen you can recycle for storage. Remember your money goes for, the packaging. Just wash them and refill with your new ones.
I was amazed at the money I have saved, which more than paid for the grinder. And with winter here it is the right time to be making all the spicy, savory warm your tummy recipes you have been craving all summer!