By definition, an eclectic gourmet is someone who doesn’t have a preference for certain types of food, but instead, enjoys trying new things from around the world. These food-enthusiasts are looking for distinct tastes rather than being stuck on certain ingredients. They also are on a hunt for different methods of cooking, from the traditional saute to the Tandoori of India there is a wide variety of cooking methods to explore.
By that definition I’m definitely an eclectic gourmet. When asked what my favorite food is it will change depending on my mood or if I’ve been on a recent kick. I can’t ever come up with just one dish or even one genre of food that I love more than anything else. I just love food lol
Which brings up some tough issues when trying to stay on a budget. But I’ve learned to adapt so I can still try new foods.
Think Long Term to Understand Real Value
When the eclectic gourmet is shopping, he or she is thinking long term when it comes to purchases. For instance, a jar of tahini, gourmet balsamic vinaigrette, small capers, or exotic mushrooms, can be a bit high for the budget. But when you understand these products will probably last for a long time because you use very little in a dish, the cost falls within the realm of possibility.
Thinking long term when it comes to more expensive ingredients is helpful when it comes to meal planning, too. The trick is to buy in the largest amount possible to keep the price lower and to have on hand for as many meals as possible. With a pantry shelf or refrigerator well stocked with just a few gourmet ingredients, your can try new dishes easily and without the added effort of shopping around again.
Then plan your meals around using those more expensive ingredients before they go bad. Yet another key to value. Work at not throwing away food.
Budget Friendly Gourmet Baking
Baking is another way the eclectic gourmet can experience new flavors within a limited budget. In general, baking ingredients are similar for many cuisines and a good stash of baking essentials will last a long time. Most baking ingredients can be found to be fairly inexpensive as a whole, so you can afford to stock up on a variety of grains and flours to bake up gourmet treats any time without spending a fortune.
With a couple turns of the rolling pin or twist of the wrist, a warm wonderful aroma will be wafting from your oven, and you can enjoy gourmet pastries and breads for only a few dollars each. Take time to master the art of garlic naan, or rich cream-filled pastries from Italy. Try your hand at baked delights such as the dough wrapped mochi ice cream from Asian cultures. With just a little practice and the right ingredients, you can produce gourmet baked goods at budget prices.
Turn Leftovers Loose with New Flavors
I’m a big proponent for repurposing leftovers. For a true eclectic gourmet on a budget, re-purposing leftovers to make an entirely new meal is an excellent way to go. Rather than just plating up your leftover steak dinner the same way you had it last night, take the ingredients and turn them into something new. Thin slice that steak and toss it in with stir fried vegetables and spicy chili sauce in a fajita. Take the mashed potatoes and mix them with roasted garlic and use as a base for your thick and rich seafood chowder. And that roasted chicken can easily be shredded and blended with a creamy yogurt curry sauce and served over Japanese noodles.
Even leftover chicken noodle soup can get a gourmet bump by adding tamari, bamboo shoots, and bean sprouts. Just because a food is ordinary doesn’t mean you can’t make it extraordinary with a few simple ingredients you already have on hand. Leftovers are the perfect opportunity to try really eclectic cuisine without destroying the budget because the dish has already been prepared and paid for. It’s the ultimate way to stretch your dollar without risking a lot. Technically the meal is free!
Just because you’re trying to cook a variety of eclectic cuisine doesn’t mean you have to break your budget. Gourmet cuisine can be found anywhere at any price, you just have to know how to find it. You don’t need to spend a fortune cooking fun meals. The eclectic gourmet is a smart gourmet!
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
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