One of the most common areas to cutback on when you are trying to save money is your grocery bill. One of the largest monthly expenses for many families, there is often room to trim quite a bit of fat. However, here are five ingredients that should never be subjected to downgrading as they may be the key to pulling a meal together, or have notable health benefits, and their quality shouldn't be ignored.
One product that should never be sacrificed is a extra virgin olive oil. Ideally, you want to use a quality, slow pressed version for optimal flavor. This means you can gain the largest impact while using very little. This is the kind of olive oil you want to use to create your own salad dressings, drizzle over pasta or dip crusty breads in. It is a temperature sensitive product and should not be heated. When it comes to more everyday cooking needs, feel free to save money and switch to its less expensive counterpart.
Another category worth splurging on is cheese. When you buy quality cheeses, a little can go a long way. Whether your prefer the distinctness of a sharp cheddar or the unmistakable flavor of blue cheese, the extra expense upfront will help elevate other everyday ingredients. This doesn't mean you have to purchase the priciest option available, but most cannot deny the notable difference between store brand grated Parmesan found in the pasta aisle and the refrigerated section block Parmesan available for a few dollars more. If you have a favorite cheese or two, buy quality versions of just those and save on any that are lesser used instead.
One of the most important components of any dish is the seasoning. This means you should never ignore the quality of your spices. While you do not need to splurge on everyone available it can be worth paying a little more for your favorites. If you love traditional curry dishes then you should invest in items like turmeric. Enjoy the taste of garlic, then buy the best you can safely afford. If you love rosemary, you should buy it fresh whenever possible. Don't concern yourself with getting the best of everyone, but investing in the five or so spices you like best can be worth the investment.
For those with a bit of a sweet tooth, local organic honey can be worth its wait in gold. You will experience more nuanced flavor and better textures than some of their over-processed national brand counterparts. You may also get added health benefits such as lessening of allergy symptoms. Since you may only use it a teaspoon at a time, a little splurging can go a long way.
For those who abide by a vegetarian or vegan diet this next area will not speak to you as much as omnivores, but if you eat meat or seafood buying quality can payoff. By purchasing grass-fed organic beef, free range organic chicken and other high quality organic meats, you will avoid many of the added hormones and unnecessary antibiotics found in their non-organic brethren. This may mean cutting back on the number of meat dishes served during the week (Meatless Monday, anyone?) you will truly have a dish worth savoring when you do have some.
For those of you who are upset that your favorite food or ingredient is not mentioned here there is one final recommendation worth stating. If an ingredient is particularly important to you, then splurge on it. Just be sure to balance it out with savings somewhere else and you will rarely be disappointed.