Whether you fancy yourself a chef, cook for a family or are simply tired of take-out, there is no better time than now to take some cues from the experts to cut the cost of cooking and make you more of a master in the kitchen.

Embrace ‘Mise en Place’ – It’s a French term meaning, ‘everything in place.’ A big mistake many home cooks make is to start a recipe without having everything at the ready. Then they have to stop what they’re doing to prepare something else and they burn or overcook what they started. Read the recipe, gather all the ingredients, prep and wash the veggies, and have it all ready to go when you start.
Have Theme Nights – Out of ideas? Meal planning may be simpler overall if you stick to pre-planned theme nights, such as Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pizza Thursday or Pasta Friday .
Make Your Own Marinara – Jarred pasta sauce is expensive. Open a can of crushed tomatoes, add some garlic, fresh or dried basil, salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil, and simmer until it reaches the consistency you prefer.
Elevate Your Popcorn – Don’t stop at adding butter or salt. Toss in chili flakes, coriander, cayenne or cinnamon to make it uniquely your own.
Bake Bread and Dough – Any chef will tell you that making bread is not difficult. It just takes time—and most of that is waiting—and homemade bread or pizza dough is fresher, cheaper, crunchier and tastier than anything you can find at the grocery store.
Make Loaded Baked Potatoes – You can start with butter, sour cream and chives, but make that baked potato your dinner. Add grated cheese, caramelized onions, cooked veggies, chopped chicken, bacon or ham—the possibilities are endless. Put the fixin’s out there and let everyone in the family add what they like best.
Use More Eggs – Eggs are too good a reliable protein to be used solely for breakfast. Expand your dinner menu with simple, delicious entrees like cheese or spinach quiche or omelets of any variety. Served with a salad and some good bread, eggs make a hearty meal anytime.