Cheap Gourmet Ingredients For The Home Cook

I love saving recipe cards from my magazines, but a lot of times I just don’t have on hand the ingredients that Martha Stewart does. Over the years I’ve refined my cooking skills although I’m no expert. I can make a mean Ramen.

When I got married, I promised myself I would learn how to cook better and more often. In my pursuit, I’ve discovered a few handy ingredients worth having in stock that are cheap but can really add a nice touch to dishes. You really can cook like a gourmet chef with these cheap ingredients!

Here’s my list of cheap gourmet ingredients for the home cook:

  1. Roasted Garlic – I often find a baggie of these at Aldi for $2. Fresh is best! Just slice the clove in half and bake in the oven. Add to pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce for an authentic Italian flavor.
  2. Fancy Lettuce – ditch ice berg lettuce heads and opt for the more brightly colored leaves. Aldi also has a great option. They sell prepackaged “Artisan Lettuce.” Which is a variety of 4 heads of fancy lettuce. It makes a beautiful salad and even has more taste to it for only a few cents more.
  3. Greek Yogurt- I haven’t always been a fan of Greek yogurt, but the last few years I’ve come around. I’d like to say that my tastes are more refined… Use it as an alternative to sour cream. Top a baked potato or a bowl of chili.
  4. Dried Beans – I like to have black beans on hand for everything. And when made fresh, they have a different texture and better taste than the canned stuff. You can use beans in soup, as a side dish, in hamburger and casseroles.
  5. Sun Dried Tomatoes – it’s gardening season and this year I intend to sun dry my own tomatoes. Just a few added into a dish really amps up the flavor. And they store well, so make a batch when tomatoes are in season and cheap.
  6. Fresh Cheeses – cheddar and mozzarella are my favorites. Just a sprinkle of freshly grated cheese on top of a dish is all you need.
  7. Spices – I personally am lacking in this department. I have a fairly robust selection on my spice rack, but I don’t really know how to use most of my spices. I go through basil, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning fast thanks to making pasta sauce pretty often. But there are so many spices out there to try. Buy them in bulk to save more money.
  8. Nuts – toast them and add to dishes for a little extra crunch. I love almonds on a salad.

Do you have a go to ingredient that is cheap but adds special flair to your dishes?


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