Food prices have skyrocketed lately. So it’s no surprise that people try to save more when shopping.
And this current economic situation aligns perfectly with the release of “Big Bad Budget Battle,” a six-episode cooking contest hosted by Food Network star Ree Drummond, better known as The Pioneer Woman.
The new show, which airs on Food Network August 9 at 10 p.m. ET/PT and airs the same day on Discovery+, follows three home cooks who work to turn “affordable everyday ingredients into mouth-watering meals” in a challenge to shop on a “small stash of cash” at Flavortown Market (the show is produced by Guy Fieri), according to a statement from Discovery.
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The “best cook and most thrifty shopper” will walk away with a trophy and a year’s worth of groceries.
“They all have the same amount of cash when they walk in (at the grocery store) and they really need to maximize that cash,” Drummond told USA TODAY.
Drummond says she’s learned a lot from the show’s contestants and has her own tips on how to save money when grocery shopping.
She shared three.
1. Buy frozen vegetables
If you’re trying to pinch pennies, Drummond advises using fresh produce when necessary for meals with raw vegetable items such as salads, but otherwise using frozen vegetables.
“There are so many times you can use frozen vegetables,” she says. “You can save a lot of money replacing what you might buy in the frozen food section and the quality is barely noticeable when making a soup, stew or casserole.”
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Drummond says it’s really important to know the frozen vegetable section. Most of the time, no one can tell the difference between fresh or frozen vegetables in a cooked dish, she says.
2. Check out the meat offerings in the butcher section
Protein is where the wallet often takes “a hit,” says Drummond. Thus, she likes to optimize her expenses in this area.
“I love going to the meat counter in the meat aisle and finding the deal,” she says, noting that it’s almost always a family pack of chicken thighs — which she thinks is the best part of the chicken as they are considerably less expensive than chicken breasts.
“The number of things you can do with chicken thighs is endless – from casseroles to stir-fries,” she continues.
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Searching for these deals can take you a long way.
The Food Network star added that when she receives a package of ribs or chicken, she breaks up the package, rewraps it and freezes whatever is left over.
“(So,) I got this great deal but it’s going to last me several meals,” she says.
3. Buy frozen dough
There are other frozen foods beyond vegetables that can also go a long way, Drummond says.
“I love things like frozen bread dough, for example,” she says, noting that it’s sold in loaves and can be left to rise by the home chef.
And a loaf can go a long way.
“(It) can turn into a huge pizza crust, it can turn into little calzones — you can do so many things with frozen bread dough,” says Drummond. “And if you bought fresh bread from the bakery, you could spend more money.”
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