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How to trim food costs and still serve delicious meals

When I spoke recently to Louise Sauvé-Nicholls about the spike in sales of higher-quality small appliances, my conversation with the director of marketing for appliance-maker Hamilton Beach focused on the role played by home chefs. Specifically, the ones who wanted to expand their repertoire, improve technique and achieve more professional results, all trends that accelerated during the pandemic, especially as access to restaurants became restricted. Since then, I’ve become aware of another topic that we could have looked at—the coming rise in food costs, and how they might affect counter-top appliance sales.

Inflation hits the dinner table

Canada’s Food Price Report for 2022 suggests that food price inflation is on track to add between five and seven per cent—or an extra $966 for a family of four. Dairy, baked goods, fruit and veg are all expected to rise. Meat will remain flat, but in a consumer landscape that is increasingly looking to meat alternatives.

Inflation related to food costs is supposed to track down by the end of summer to reduce the stress, but that doesn’t take into account the possibility of climate-change-related weather events that either disrupt the supply chain or wipe out crops.

Whatever the economic landscape, saving money on food

and reducing waste are always worthwhile goals.

Louise surely would have had insights into how higher food costs will affect behaviour. I suspect, though, she would still have been able to make an argument for better-made appliances, possibly suggesting that investing in them when food prices are high makes especially good sense.

Food cost fixes

In a POST Media article, I outlined some of the features of HB’s Snap n Stack food processor. I thought some more since then about other ways it might help with food costs. Some ideas:

It’s great for pizza or bread, which can be a healthy, quick nourishing meal-especially with a salad. I made a big batch of dough that I divided into four portions. Three got frozen, the fourth had some tired herbs kneaded in, and was baked fresh to serve with smoked fish (an occasional splurge) and a salad.

After letting pizza dough thaw in the fridge overnight, I stretch it out, and prep it. Anything goes—leftover mushrooms,  the last drizzle of oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes,  a tablespoon of cheese crumbs, or thinly-sliced cooked potato.

TIP: Milk that’s gone off, or the last teaspoon of yogurt

add flavour/texture to muffins and reduce food costs.

Got a cup of leftover fruit juice or herb tea? Use it in scones.

Do the same thing with cookie dough, and freeze it or bake cookies and then freeze them.

Need some cookie inspiration? Get it from a Master: Julie van Rosendaal

Cook with kids

If you have children, include them in some of these sessions. They’ll learn useful basics skills, and you may even discover a mini-chef in the family.

With prices expected to rise between five and seven per cent, vegetables will be a precious commodity. That doesn’t mean you need to avoid them. Even if broccoli, for example, costs $5 a head, it can be turned into a hearty soup for four people, the base of a wholesome meal using just stock*, a carrot, onion, potato, and butter/oil.

*My little grocery luxury/cheat is Better than Bouillon. But making your own stock isn’t that hard, and I’ll address it an upcoming column.

The food processor also offers a delicious way to use up leftover veg in creamy and blended soups. Those can be stored and frozen for quick winter lunches and dinners. I like just about any kind of veg mixed with curry, stock, and coconut milk.

Adding potato will make any combination creamier. Blending in cheese or beans makes it smoother and boosts protein. Pair soup with a home-made bread, and serve cut-up apples and molasses cookies, and you’ve got a cozy, hearty, nourishing meal.

What’s your best tip for saving money and reducing waste in the kitchen?

This is a sponsored post. I’ve been using and working with Hamilton Beach products for close to 20 years, and stand by them for performance and value. The company did not review or approve this post.

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