Don't skip the greenmarket
Many cooks write off greenmarket shopping when they're on a budget. But you don't have to if you shop wisely. Seasonal ingredients are often cheaper and almost always better quality than what you'll find at your local grocery store. For our Thanksgiving on a $50 budget, we found a three-pound bag of apples and a huge bundle of collards — big enough to feed guests and serve as leftovers — each for just $3. While you're at the market, load up on herbs; they'll flavor stocks, add brightness to stuffing and give an extra layer of flavor to sweet potatoes. They're a budget cook's best friend.
Waste not, want not
It's easy to toss carrot peels, apple cores, meat bones, and hard cheese rinds into the trash, but you're also throwing away flavor. Instead, gather your scraps in a plastic bag and store them in the freezer, and when you have enough, and an extra-lazy Sunday afternoon, pop them in a large pot, add water, salt and simmer. The stock will transform your simple grains, braised greens, or stuffing.
Find a butcher
Meat freezers at your local grocery store have their time and place, but on a holiday, head to a butcher. Yes, you will probably spend a bit more, but you're likely to walk away with more, too, whether it's bones for stock or advice on how to best prepare your meat.
Buy in bulk
When you can, purchase pantry items like flour, salt, olive oil, and the like in bulk. If you cook regularly, do the same for onions and garlic, which are often cheaper by the bag. You can also look out for co-ops and large supermarkets that sell grains, nuts, and dried fruit by the weight, allowing you to buy as much or as little as you want.
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