Money, money, money! It doesn’t grow on trees. When you don’t have it, you just don’t have it. But you can cook gourmet on a budget. Let me help you.


  1. Buy different cuts of meats and fish. I customized a menu for a client who had to entertain a rotating group of friends but was on a very tight budget. I gave her a menu for 6 people based on oxtails and great wines for $100. This menu is $100 per person at a restaurant! Oxtails cost 1/4 the price of filet mignon, but they are amazingly flavorful. You can do the same thing with fish. While tuna costs $28 per pound, mussels cost $4.99 per pound. Think about using chicken livers – they are cheap and considered one of the most tasty ingredients in cooking. So, explore cuts of meat and fish that aren’t as ‘popular’, and you’ll be able to make a gourmet meal without blowing your budget.
  2. Explore using replacement ingredients in a recipe. No one loves parmesan cheese more than me! But at $25 per pound, you can substitute parmesan for other hard cheeses, like manchego or romano, which cost around $10 per pound. It depends on the recipe, but you don’t always have to use exactly the ingredient that is listed.
  3. Use expensive ingredients sparingly. Evaluate your recipe and consider using fewer of the more expensive ingredients. For example, if the recipe calls for porcini mushrooms, perhaps you can use another mushroom and place a smaller amount of porcini on top of the dish when serving. That way, you still have the porcini flavor but don’t use as much and, therefore, spend less.
  4. Sales. All grocery stores have weekly sales, and some have BOGO (buy one, get one free). Whole Foods has some of the best sales, even though it is widely considered an expensive store. When you see something on sale or BOGO, buy extra and save it for when you need it. Just make sure that you can use the extra before it expires.gourmet on a budget
  5. Buy extra to get discounts. Especially for wine, you can get anywhere from 10-30% off when you buy six or twelve bottles instead of one. This is an incentive to save that has no downsides!
  6. Make your own. I’ve never met an Italian grandmother who buys bread crumbs. They use day-old bread thrown into the food processor, and there you have bread crumbs. The list goes on—stock, pasta, crackers, desserts, bread, pizza, etc. You can make these staples for cents versus dollars. All you need is a little time and effort to save a lot of money.
  7. Don’t shop hungry. You will buy more items that are not on your list if you go to the grocery store hungry. Eat at home before you go, and don’t get swayed!
  8. Don’t buy impulse items. It’s hard to stick to your list, but make a commitment that if an item is not on sale, you will not buy it. This will help keep your grocery bill down.
  9. Properly estimate amounts needed. Please, don’t ever waste food. Ensure that you properly plan the amounts needed when entertaining. For example, if your recipe is for 8 people, but you only have 4 guests, cut the amounts in half and don’t buy any more than you need.
  10. Create a menu that’s different. Rather than serving expensive steaks, invite your friends to a grown-up version of kids’ comfort foods. Or have a pizza party. Make eggs for dinner. If you can get creative with your menu, you can save a lot of money, and it will be unique and fun, too.
  11. Do you have a yard? Use it to plant vegetables. They are better when you grow them and cost a lot less. Even if you live in a condo or apartment and have a balcony or patio, you can plant vegetables in pots. Don’t let it hold you back.
    Baby radish

    Micro greens