By Jarod Todeschi
Watching the Food Network over the years has taught me many things. Between the observation of home cooking nuances and absorbing the taste analysis of constrained recipes, the urge to raise the bar in the kitchen has become irresistable. Though the prospects seem limited while preparing food on a budget, making something appetizing and substantial can also be sensationally fun and fiscally responsible.
Expanding the assemblage of your supplies might be the first step to spicing up your cooking. Just a few touchstone items could be enough for any person, based solely on the desired signature flavors you’ll choose to be ingesting. Just because you are eating with your bank account in mind doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality and dimensional flavors. A few easy and accessible items that are asking to be doctored up might be:
A Brick of Ramen
Although the pot of hot water and saturated sodium packet are often delicious, adding some frozen or fresh vegetable mixes during the heating process can easily make the meal more substantial. Spicing the broth up is easy with a squeeze of lemon juice, soy sauce, sriracha or any other sauce.This allows you to layer flavors beyond the included packet for a comforting homemade vibe. Curry powder is an excellent addition to the broth for a satisfying taste and aroma.
Any frozen or fresh vegetables can be great after some time in the oven. With frozen vegetables (including french fries), lightly coating them in olive oil while still frozen and tossing them in salt, pepper and any other spice of your choosing will allow them to crisp up nicely as they cook. You can skip the oil and season them directly as well. Giving things a toss in the pan halfway through cooking time will make sure the crisp is evenly distributed across the vegetables. Personally, my favorite spices for french fries in particular are paprika and seasoned salt. If your teeth are feeling sweet, brown sugar is a scrumptious and satisfying way to make vegetables unhealthier for the body, but more essential for the soul.
Boxes of Macaroni and Cheese
Adding just a bit more butter than suggested in the directions is the easiest way to make your basic macaroni variety more delicious. With the addition of hearty sprinkles of salt and pepper, the already indulgent meal acquires a simple gourmet edge. Because macaroni and cheese provides a trusted blank canvas for flavorful investigation, adding essentially anything could prove beneficial. While the pasta is still hot, stirring any amount of additional cheese of your choosing can concoct a multi-dimensional, cheesy experience. This could also mean including your preferred protein or a toss of other spices like cumin or an Italian herb combination.
Like macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs are a very neutral, very dependable culinary foundation. That being said, anything in your cabinet—or your cravings—will be a hearty inclusion to your scramble. Heating the pan with butter or olive oil will add a peripheral flare and ensure minimal egg sticks to the pan. A more flavorful, more indulgent alternative to those could be cooking bacon first, and using a portion of the remaining bacon fat to grease the pan. After the egg is scrambled and before dropping it into the heated pan, adding seasoned salt, herbs, pepper or even cream cheese are easy and traditional approaches to a wholesome breakfast, appropriate for every hour of the day.
Any or all spices listed throughout would be positive investments for your kitchen cabinet and eager belly. However, the most essential component of comfort eating on the cheap is experimentation! The only way to find out what kind of flavors you prefer is to try them and expand your palette. If you find something you particularly like, it might make many things that you eat just a little bit more enjoyable. No matter how easy the box or the freezer or the non-perishable variety is, eating should never be anything less than extraordinary.