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Do any of these statements describe you?

  • I am a bad cook but I want to improve.
  • I want to cook more.
  • I want to add variety to my diet.
  • I want to save money on food.
  • I want to make shopping easier.
  • I want to make cooking easier.
  • I always forget my store list.
  • Cooking every day is tiring. I want to cook for the future.

If any of these describe you, fear not! I have found a simple solution to cooking on a budget. I think these resources will appeal most to my cohort of millennial generation would-be cooks, but really anyone from single bachelor’s to busy moms who want to eat better and save money can find something here. Great recipes, step-by-step instructions with detailed photos, cost breakdowns for meals (by ingredient and by serving), a “recipe box” to save your favorite recipes, meal planner, and store list right on your smart phone. This two-part combination has everything you need to make yourself a better cook!


1. Budget Bytes

The first part of my combo is the Budget Bytes blog, referred to me by a friend. The wonderful mind behind this site, Beth, pulled me in with her mentality on affordable cooking:

I’m not “cheap” because I do appreciate quality; I just like to be able to have my cake, eat it, AND pay my bills on time.

Her recipes focus on simplicity, affordability, and timeliness. As she says herself, her blog is not meant for professional chefs – instead, she is targeting those of us who grew up in generations where simple home cooked meals may have been a rarity. Each recipe is accompanied by a breakdown of costs and it is easy to see how making that broccoli and cheese sandwich you love saves you real dollars compared to the cafe. And don’t get me started about the visual walkthrough – whereas many recipes leave me dumbfounded with their cooking terms, Budget Bytes cuts through the fog with splendid photo guides!

2. Ziplist

I have tried several electronic cooking programs to manage my recipes, create shopping lists, and explore new ideas but so far none have compared to Ziplist. With its simple interface and connectivity with Budget Bytes, it took me less than 5 minutes to create an account (email and password only), add a Budget Bytes recipe, put the recipe on my meal calendar, download the android app (there is an iPhone app too), and get a shopping list right on my phone. Plus I linked my meal calendar right to my Google calendar – all the information I need right in one place!

You do not need either of these tools to improve your cooking and start eating better and more affordable, but they sure do help! So if you really want to improve, set to it right now. Find a meal, get your shopping list together, and go to the store after work tomorrow. You can do it!