If you’ve never done much cooking, the idea of it might make you feel overwhelmed. And while sampling pig head tacos or uni pizza at a favorite restaurant might be a fun culinary adventure, too many of those meals will leave your wallet hurting. Cooking at home is definitely more budget friendly, but 20-somethings new to the kitchen might find themselves confused about where to begin. Loading your cart with fresh produce and lean proteins is a good way to go, but those items don’t really make an entire meal. And when you’re getting near the end of your fresh stuff, you still need to be able to eat something more substantial than a handful of stale crackers and a mushy banana.
That’s where your pantry comes in. Keeping shelf-stable food on hand means you’re always ready to whip up a fast, easy meal. And there’s no need to spend hours scouring grocery store shelves trying to figure out what to pick. We’ve singled out some of the best supermarket scores to keep you well-fed and perfectly within your budget. You’ll be making drool-worthy dishes in no time.
1. Canned beans
Filled with fiber and protein, beans are one of the best budget-cooking options out there. While dried legumes are the less expensive choice, it takes planning to soak them in advance and more than a bit of time to cook them. Thankfully, canned beans are still a bargain and come in just about every variety you could hope to find.
While beans are a great choice for vegetarians, they also work really well with dishes featuring a little bit of meat. The key to keeping the price low is using just a bit of something like bacon or chorizo to add loads of flavor. Food Network has a bunch of great recipes to give you ideas.