With grocery store shelves cleared off across the country, the chances of finding every ingredient on your shopping list are slim. COVID-19-related closures and social distancing are changing the way we shop, and a lot of folks are stocking up on pantry staples for the first time.
The bean market is booming, even though a lot of people don’t seem to know how to cook or serve beans; people are stocking up on bottled water for no identifiable reason, and people are hoarding frozen meals and pizzas. While the food media boom has taught us how to prepare complex dishes with the advice of professional chefs, we’re less adept when it comes to cooking with what we’ve got.
Food blogger Beth Moncel has been ahead of the curve with Budget Bytes, a website dedicated to easy-to-prepare, budget-friendly cooking. The project launched in 2009, shortly after Moncel graduated from college with a degree in nutritional science and quickly started “losing the battle with adulthood.” Looking to cut all discretionary spending from her budget and unwilling to live off packaged ramen noodles, she started tracking every penny and developing recipes on her blog that were cost-saving and delicious. Those recipes can be found on her website, in her cookbook, or the Budget Bytes app.
Heated’s Sam Hill reached out to Moncel to chat about what she eats, her food budget philosophy, and underrated meals and ingredients that are shelf-stable and won’t break the bank.
Heated: Can you walk us through a day of eating in your kitchen? What have you been eating lately?
Beth Moncel: Most mornings, I’m at the gym, and then I come home, and it’s straight to breakfast, which is usually one of three things — an oatmeal bowl with whatever toppings I have on hand, all sorts of fruits seeds and nuts. Or I do an egg scramble with vegetables I need to use. And sometimes I go with a toast, just straight peanut butter or a fancier avocado toast. I always check to see what I need to use up in my fridge or pantry, and what I eat is typically based on that.