Tweaking Ingredients to Save Big

Small adjustments to favorite recipes make them cheaper (and sometimes better).

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A story I wrote this week offers six ways to eat better for less. The cooks and bloggers I spoke with offered great advice, from making better use of eggs to creatively reinventing leftovers. My own techniques involve making small changes to recipes to make them more affordable without sacrificing taste. Here are my three favorite inexpensive recipes, all slight variations on the Barefoot Contessa originals:

  • Herbed baked eggs Ina Garten may not agree, but substituting dried herbs for the fresh ones she recommends, skipping the parsley altogether, and using English muffins instead of gourmet bread cuts down on costs without undermining flavor. Best for: romantic evening for two.
    • Mexican chicken soup Leave out the pricey chicken, and it's still a hearty meal, and much simpler to make. (I also skip the avocado.) Best for: festive dinner party.
      • Roasted eggplant spread Add an extra eggplant to bulk up on volume. The most expensive ingredient, tahini, lasts for months in the fridge. And again, leave out the parsley for even more savings. Best for: party dish or, if you like it as much as I do, dinner.