Living on any type of budget is somewhat difficult for various reasons. Living on a budget in college is almost always challenging. One area of cost cutting that is relatively effective is the grocery bill. Of course, this also often means that menus are plain, boring, and monotonous. A solution to consider is keeping certain herbs and spices stocked in the kitchen. These are items which are versatile because they can be used in a variety of dishes. This can add a little spice to dietary college life. Most of these seasonings can be purchased at dollar type stores and are generally reasonably priced.
The first two items on the list are salt and pepper. Salt is used in savory dishes and sweet recipes. It is important to not rely on salt too much though because consuming excessive amounts of salt can lead to hypertension. Two other savory herbs to keep on hand are garlic and onion. These can be found in powder as well as dehydrated and chopped forms. A little salt, pepper, and garlic can give a plain rice dish new life.
Another helpful hint is to look for seasoning mixes. There are several different types of mixes available which not only add flavor to recipes, but also save money because it is a single bottle instead of paying for each component in the mix separately. Some examples are chili powder, season salt, and Italian seasoning mixes. As a side not there are spice mixes on the market for sweet dishes too. These may include pumpkin pie and apple pie spices. Flaked or powdered cayenne pepper is a good spice to keep on hand for those who enjoy meals with a little kick.
It is important to include spices for sweet recipes in the list. Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Allspice are excellent to keep around. When times are tight a little butter and sugar on toast dashed with Cinnamon is a delicious, yet simple snack. Flavorings and extracts fall into the versatile category as well. Numerous sweet recipes call for vanilla which can be bought in an extract or the beans are also available; however, for cost cutting measures imitation liquid extract is usually the least expensive form.
Lemon and orange flavorings can be used in baked goods and spice up chicken or fish recipes. Spices, herbs, and extracts are generally found in the baking section of grocery stores so it is a good idea to pick up a bag of sugar during the trip. Another items that adds flavor to both savory and sweet dishes is peanut butter and it is relatively cheap. Peanut butter is also great for making healthy snacks.
Before making the trip to the grocery store create a list of herbs, spices, and flavorings to purchase. Include those above as well as favorites from home that mom or dad used a lot. Prior to generating the list design a budget by allocating a certain amount of the grocery bill money to just these items. Try to stick to the list and restock whenever anything is depleted from the kitchen stores.