Thrifty Food: Changing the way you use garlic will save you money

This moneysaving trick involved my second most favourite thing in the world (the first is my family, obvs) – GARLIC. Flipping love this stuff. So tasty and miraculously healthy.

A couple of years ago I did the Live Below The Line challenge which involved living on less than £1 a day for a week. It meant I had to somehow make a whole bulb of garlic last me one week (I could use a bulb of garlic in one meal, ordinarily) whilst maximising the flavour.

The way to do it is to add your garlic in towards the very end of your cooking.

Often recipes call for garlic to be cooked alongside onions at the start- it’s a sad thing as because of the high sugar content in garlic it cooks way faster than onions and the flavour is reduced with cooking. Ignore them- these chefs know nothing! Listen to me, I’m the QUEEN OF GARLIC.

To save money, I use just 1-2 segments of garlic and crush it finely (actually I don’t bother with peeling – I simply grate it straight into the meal using an ordinary grater- the skin stays on the finger side and the garlic is crushed into the meal) and add it minutes before the end of the cooking.

For thick, saucy things (such as bolgonaise) add it about 5-10 minutes before the end.
For drier, frying stuff add it (such as stir fry) add it 1-2 minutes before the end.

You’ll work out your ideal timings depending on how much flavour you like.

Much less garlic used with each recipe AND flavour is maximised AND less fathy peeling and crushing (yawn.)

Also, psssst, you know those expensive “Get rid of the garlic smell on your fingers” implements? The ones you get in kitchen shops and things? They work simply by being stainless steel- so you can rub your fingers on anything made of stainless steel and the smell will go! I used to use my tap. The Queen of garlic, I tell you!

Okay, come on, I’ve revealed one of my favourite thrifty kitchen tricks – what are yours?
kitchen tricks

8 comments on “Thrifty Food: Changing the way you use garlic will save you money

  1. This is very good advice, I’ve long found this! In addition, adding crushed garlic near the beginning with the onions risks burning the garlic, yuck.

    A really easy cheap pasta sauce is a tin of tomatoes, dried herbs and crushed garlic, all in the saucepan at the same time then let it bubble away while the pasta is boiling.

    I also steam and freeze my onions so I can just add them to sauces like this while cooking to defrost (saves so much time on weekdays when you don’t want to stand over a pan softening onions).

  2. That is indeed an excellent tip, O Garlic Queen! And I have never heard the stainless steel inside info before – thank you!

    Thriftiest kitchen trick for me is to use the freezer lots.

    We make enormous loads of any freezable dinner and freeze portions of different sizes – family servings, family+guest servings, single servings for lunches etc. It means we eat home-made food a lot but can get away without really cooking half the week. And it makes for uber-nutritious snacks.

    In the good times, this is more about saving time than money, but in the bad times, when dragging yourself into the kitchen at 5pm is impossible, we would otherwise (and do if the freezer is bare!) spend a fortune on eating out.

    I freeze ingredient leftovers too like little bits of tomato paste or stock or wine you don’t need now but won’t keep in the fridge.

    And you can make your own vege stock by keeping a bag in the freezer for vege scraps that aren’t useable in any other way (other than compost), like onion skins, carrot tops, peelings, outer leaves of leeks etc. When you have a full bag, simmer it in a full pot of water and you have vege stock. As I’m sure you all know!

    A friend’s chef son blogged about this with more detail:

    And I wrote about the meal freezing (not rocket science, obvs) here:

    Thanks for this FAB new blog, Lucy. I’m loving it.
    ThaliaKR recently posted…New Year’s Guide to DemocracyMy Profile

    • Oh yes, I made stock like this some months ago, boiled it right down and filled ice-cube trays. I’m coming to the end of them now, so I’m going to have to not buy any more frozen food for some time while I fill my tiny freezer-space with a bag of all the scraps I can muster. Sucks having such a tiny freezer!
      My tip is, errr…… remember remember what leftovers you’ve put in the fridge to use later. I hate throwing away food. Even food that has spent weeks going green and could probably make a break for it when I open the door…
      Rosealys recently posted…One Week InMy Profile

  3. My thrifty kitchen trick is this; when you have a smallish amount of left overs, like bolognaise, curry, stew, casserole, anything remotely saucy, you can make another meal from it, even with a very small amount. Create individual serve pies with the leftover mixture. You’ll be amazed how far a little leftover can go. I use store bought pastry but you can make your own with simple pantry ingredients. I’ve also put the mixture into bread cases in a muffin tin or into ramekins with a mashed vege top and a little cheese. Kids love these!

  4. I’ve been using lemon juice/squished pulpy half lemon shells to get rid of the garlic smell – but using the tap or something else made of stainless steel seems much easier. My next trick is figuring out how to prevent the garlic bulbs from sprouting. Are they meant to inhabit dark places like potatos?
    Lilybett recently posted…Intentional PlayMy Profile

  5. Great tip, I’d always wondered why recipes tell you to “cook garlic for two minutes until soft” when it actually frazzles in about 10 seconds!

    My thrifty food tip is to make the most of fresh herbs by NEVER throwing away the stalks, even if the recipe says to use only ‘picked leaves’. Soft stalks (coriander, parsley, basil etc.) can be finely chopped and cooked in oil at the start along with onions. Woody stalks (rosemary, thyme, etc.) can be thrown into soups, sauces and stews, left to simmer for the duration of cooking, and fished out at the end. Both methods give way more flavour than just using the leaves.
    Eline @ Pasta & Patchwork recently posted…You’ve come a long way, ragazziMy Profile

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