Food preparation should strike a balance between healthfulness, sustainability, and affordability. If there is space for food storage, a well-stocked pantry can serve as the building block for meals. An herb garden (even an indoor one) can be used to supplement what is in the pantry. Develop recipes that can be prepared using only pantry ingredients.
Regardless of diet, food costs can be greatly reduced by thinking from ingredient to recipe instead of from recipe to required ingredient. The former allows buying on sale. However, it requires a working knowledge of recipes. This method is particularly effective when combined with a pantry/freezer full of staples.
Meat, fish and produce should be purchased in season to save money and insure the best quality of food. Recipe books, normally organized by type, should be organized by season and by ingredient. This removes temptations like the desire to bake blueberry muffins in January (when blueberries are $6-$8/pint) just because you stumbled upon the recipe in your book. Soups are an inexpensive way to use leftovers or expand the size of the meal when there is only a small amount of food with which to cook.
The best recipes will have the fewest ingredients and use the least amount of energy in preparation. Focus on one-pot or slow cooker recipes during the winter when energy costs are high, and learn to cook food outdoors over open flames during the milder weather. Never cook one item when using an oven. Always cook several items at once. Plan indoor cooking on the coldest days (to help heat the home) and outdoor cooking on the mildest days.
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