Looking to save time and money with your home-cooked meals? If so, rotisserie chicken just might be your greatest ally in the grocery store. Here are a few great ways this little bird can help you stretch your dollar.
To start, rotisserie chicken is pre-cooked and seasoned, so the hard stuff is already taken care of. When you bring it home, all you have to do is separate the meat from the bones. Then, simply shred it or cube it, and mix it into your meals throughout the week.
From tacos to stew, pasta salad to chopped salad, you can incorporate rotisserie chicken into just about anything. This not only saves you money, but after a long day, it also makes cooking your dinners much easier.
Best of all, you can find cheap rotisserie chickens just about anywhere. A typical one can cost anywhere between $ 5 and $ 10, but if you shop at night, around the time when the deli section of your supermarket closes, you can find prices slashed by up to 50 percent. This is because if they don’t sell it, they have to toss it.
So when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, think chicken — this little bird can help you save big.
Related: Staples all frugal cooks should have in their pantry
One of the most versatile staples around, you can throw pretty much anything into pasta to make it a meal or a side dish. Get noodles in different shapes and styles to mix things up: spaghetti, elbows, penne, fettuccini, egg noodles, etc., and experiment with different sauces to increase the variety factor.
Beans are a wonderful, inexpensive source of protein that can be used to substitute for meat in many recipes (whether you’re vegetarian or just looking to shave a few bucks off your grocery bill). They’re known as a “superfood,” boasting all sorts of health benefits and packed with fiber that keeps you feeling full longer. Stock up on black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, great northern beans and cannelloni beans, all of which can be used in a wide variety of dishes.
Canned beans are more convenient, but dried beans are cheaper. Soak overnight in water, then bring to a boil on the stove and let simmer for an hour. Combine beans with rice or quinoa for a filling lunch, or eat it in tortilla wraps with salsa, lettuce and cheese for an affordable, healthy and filling meal.
Another good meat substitute, lentils are packed with fiber, protein, Vitamin B and iron, and they can be used in everything from soups and stews to salads and curries. French, Indian and other varieties can be thrown into a crock-pot with veggies, beans and broth to slowly cook while you’re at work.
A great source of protein that can be cooked many different ways, eggs can work for any time of day. Omelets are an easy way to turn odds and ends like leftover cheese and veggies into delicious, easy meals.
Traditional cow milk is ideal for both baking and cooking sides like mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. Almond milk, soy milk and coconut milk can be used in certain recipes and are great alternatives for vegans or people with lactose intolerance. And let’s not forget that childhood staple: cereal and milk (of any variety) creates a filling breakfast, especially if it’s combined with eggs or other protein, and perhaps a piece of fresh fruit.
White and brown rice are the most obvious choices, but you can also stock up on protein-rich quinoa (my personal favorite, and what’s in the photo) and barley for a change of pace. Just like pasta, grains can be mixed with all sorts of things to create a wide variety of cheap, healthy and well-rounded recipes.
Good old-fashioned oats can be used to make everything from oatmeal to bread to granola. They’ve been shown to lower cholesterol, boost heart health and have even been dubbed another one of those “superfoods.” For a healthy snack, try baking no-added-sugar oatmeal and raisin cookies.
Not just for breakfast and snacks, bulk cereal can also be crushed and used as coating for chicken, fish or shrimp; tossed into meatloaf mix for added body; and used to create a crunchy layer on casseroles. Look for high-fiber, low-sugar varieties.
You can buy these ready-made or save some cash by making them yourself the next time you’re cooking meat. They’re great for adding extra depth and taste to a dish and can be used for everything from braising vegetables to soups and stews. Those who love slow cookers should definitely have some on hand.
Perfect for making soups, stews and sauces, canned tomatoes can also be used to add extra flavoring to omelets and other dishes. Fresh tomatoes are relatively affordable when they’re in season, but canned tomatoes provides a frugal alternative during the frozen winter months.
Cheap and full of protein, tuna can be turned into sandwiches, salads, casseroles and more. It’s another staple that can be mixed with lots of other things on this list in a wide variety of combinations.
Bring out the flavor in even the simplest of dishes with the right spices and seasonings. There’s no limit to the cuisines you can make with the help of basics like garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, cloves, curry powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, paprika, rosemary and thyme.