Well another week another budget check in. This time I’m happy to say things are looking a little brighter.

$79 – Local and or organic food
$84 – Loblaws and Ribfest eating out

Total – $163 or $4.65 per person per day. Not too shabby I dare say. Especially when you compare it to last week.

Even though we were sticking to a budget – it didn’t feel like it at all. Except maybe for the times when I would want to go out to eat only to remind myself that wasn’t perhaps the best use of the food budget right at the moment. The secret to this success – I call it my ‘Truffle Rule’. 

When you are on a budget you have a new definition of the word ‘expensive’, suddenly things you always bought before you are second guessing because of their cost and how much value you are getting out of that purchase. The truth of the matter is, these more expensive ingredients are what make a meal feel luxurious and special. Going without them for too long is like going on a diet and depriving yourself of all things sweet, salty or delicious – after a while you are going to crash and binge. To keep this from happening you need to learn to incorporate some luxury ingredients into your meals while making it work for your budget.

 How? The truffle rule. Start treating any ingredient that is expensive for your budget the way that great chefs use truffles. These expensive little mushrooms are used sparingly and in ingenious ways to enhance a dish without breaking the bank by using a whole truck load of them. Take for example last week. I picked up a pound of bison which on average is about twice the price of the local grass fed ground beef I normally buy. The plan was burgers – I had a few options here. I could use all the meat and make the 4 1/4 burgers I needed – which I’m sure would have been awesome. I could have used 1/2 the meat and only made two burgers and tried to supplement the meal with something else… OR Truffle Rule. I use only 1/2 lb of bison, add lentils (and seasoning) and still make the 4 1/4 burgers I had intended on making but cutting the cost of the burgers in half. 

This also works for expensive veggies! Asparagus too expensive? Try buying a smaller quantity of it and pairing it with a less expensive side of carrots. Everyone gets to enjoy a little and it adds some variety to the meal.

There are all kinds of ways to use less of an ingredient but still get it’s flavour in your meal. How do you like to use expensive ingredients?