When we cut back on how much we were spending on groceries, there were just some foods I was not willing to stop buying. I make pretty much every meal from scratch, and that means I need to use several different foods to add more flavor and help the dish out a bit. I am willing to pay more money for these ingredients simply because they make my food taste AWESOME.
© Boyarkina Marina / Dollar Photo Club
It wasn’t until about three years ago that I started buying kosher salt instead of regular ol’ table salt. Kosher salt costs about 70 cents a pound. Regular table salt is usually less than 50 cents a pound. So I am paying a premium to buy kosher salt, but I know that it makes my food taste better. I noticed an immediate difference the first time I used it and I continue to enjoy cooking with it because my meals are always tasty when I use it.
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
It’s really debatable whether or not you need to use freshly ground black pepper vs pure ground black pepper (which is ground before it’s packaged). I made the switch to the fresh stuff about the same time I started using kosher salt, and I really do believe it makes a difference in how my food tastes.
I still have not splurged and bought a pepper mill, and that means I have to buy a new black peppercorn grinder every time I run out. I know it would be cheaper to just buy a pepper mill (even if it does cost between $12 and $30) and a big bottle of peppercorns, but it’s hard to find that extra money for the pepper mill. The pepper mill would last forever, and the peppercorns are cheaper per ounce to buy than the ones in the little bottle I have been buying.
Before I got married, I honestly had never seen a garlic clove in my life. And if I did, I just didn’t know what it was. The minute I got married, I started learning about garlic and now it’s a major staple in our house. I use it in most of my dishes, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it. Why? Not only is it really healthy for you, but it also packs a huge flavor punch at a relatively low price. I normally pay about 48 cents for a garlic bulb, and we can go through it in less than 2 weeks, sometimes much more quickly.
I used to use garlic powder when a recipe called for garlic, but now I will use garlic when a recipe calls for garlic, garlic powder, or even garlic salt. I almost always add more garlic cloves than the recipe calls for as well since we love the flavor that much.
Sorry about the garlic breath!! 🙂
Don’t even get me started on the pronunciation of this sauce! I had to look it up after butchering the name several times. You say it like this: Wuss-ter-sher sauce. Look it up if you don’t believe me!
While the name of the sauce seems outrageous, just take a look at the ingredients. Even though I know there are anchovies in it, I still love this sauce. It can be a bit pricey, but it has added a really great flavor to gravies, sauces, and soups I have made.
It wasn’t long before I started branching out and buying more than just white vinegar for my meals. We love balsamic vinegar, wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and rice vinegar. They all add a different depth of flavor to the particular dish we add it to, and I will pay more for a good brand since I know it can make a big difference.
You can get away adding dried herbs to a dish that calls for fresh herbs, but the flavor is so much better with the fresh ones. Especially when it comes to making a dish for guests, I will buy the fresh herbs because they can elevate the meal. One of these days, I will start an indoor herb garden. One of these days…
It’s actually not very often that I buy Parmesan cheese. The reason? It seems like whenever my brother-in-law visits from out of state, he brings a large block of it and we then can use it for the next 6 months to 1 year. No joke. It lasts a really long time. Although, I did look up the shelf life of Parmesan cheese, and it is shorter than that! Since my brother-in-law is a true Italian foodie, I trust him more than a website. He says that if there is some mold, just cut it off and continue to use the cheese. Ha!
If I didn’t have a brother-in-law graciously bringing large amounts of Parmesan cheese to share once or twice a year, I would still buy it myself and pay more for a good brand. It’s delicious on pasta, in soup, and my husband likes to just eat pieces of it if it’s sitting out on the table!
While this list is not at all exhaustive, they are the main foods I will pay a premium for, even when we are trying to cut down our food budget. If your food is tasty, you’ll be less likely to lapse into take-out buying mode!
What foods do you buy at a premium to make your meals taste better?