On the Cheap

Spend Less Money on Food (& More Money on Fun) This Summer

June 10, 2015

Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, Catherine Lamb shows us how to make the most of a tight budget—without sacrificing flavor or variety. 

Today: School's out for summer—but if your budget's still tight, here are some tips for eating well (and cheaply) in the warmer months.

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Summer is a time of freedom, of relaxation, of popsicles and swimming pools and sweaty armpits. But even though summer might feel like a departure from the everyday grind (wait, summer vacation doesn't exist in the real world?), if you're like me, you still have to stick to a budget. Even more so if you're spending all your dollars and cents on 50+ S.P.F. sunscreen and the air-conditioning bill. 

So here are a few tips for how to live it up and eat your way through summer, culled from the archives of My Broke Kitchen wisdom:

1. Make the most of summer produce.

Pickled Watermelon

It's time to eat all of the summer things! All of that vibrant, juicy produce you fanatasized about while eating your umpteenth kale salad this winter is here, and you're already used to it. Make sure not to waste an ounce of it, and pickle whatever you can't eat—it'll add some zing to the colder months ahead.


2. Travel smarter, not hungrier.

Snack Cake

Whether you're prepping for a road trip or long flight, don't be reduced to eating overpriced, underwhelming snacks. Pack your own before you head out and you'll arrive at your destination sans hunger pangs.


3. Eat more greens.

Green Goddess Dressing

When you can't stomach turning on the stove and your budget's too tight for takeout, turn to salads. Refreshing, bright, and cool, they are everything your body wants right now.


4. Take a vacation from mealtime norms.

Toast for Dinner

Thanks to sticky hot weather and general vacation atmosphere, the rules for what constitutes a meal become more lax in the summertime. Toast is no longer just for breakfast and vegetables with dips are promoted from snack to entrée. 


5. Yes, you can still grill on a budget.

How to grill on a budget

Just because you can't spring for lamb chops doesn't mean you don't get to participate in the primordial satisfaction that is cooking your food over an open flame. Here's how to grill—for a crowd—without spending a fortune.


6. Summer is the time for dinner (and brunch) parties

Slab Pie

Long summer nights embolden you to stay out way too late (and spend way too much money) eating and drinking outdoors at every biergarten, bistro, and coffee shop in the area. Skip the big check and invite your friends over to your home for a dinner party or a budget brunch. When the urge to eat outdoors becomes too strong to resist, pack a picnic and head to the nearest park.

How to do you keep on a budget when the weather turns warm? Tell us in the comments! 

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