The price of Kosher food is often much greater than that of non-Kosher food, simply because of the expense in preparing it. However, for many people who wish to keep Kashrut (the Jewish dietary laws), it is not an option to compromise with non-Kosher foods. So, for those who are finding it hard to make ends meet, here are a few tips for Kosher cooking on a budget.
Emphasize the Vegetables
The best thing about vegetables is that they are automatically Kosher (as long as they have been properly checked for insects) and pavre, making them the most versatile choice for meals. Using beans and lentils, which can be bought in bulk, as the center of a meal rather than meat, can cut down on food budgets and be just as healthy and filling. Or take a leaf out of traditional Asian recipes and use meat as a garnish, rather than the main component. With nuts, or eggs in the meal as well, there's no need to include large amounts of expensive Kosher meats.
It's easy enough to work out which items are seasonal, they will always be cheaper than the rest. Stock up on these when they are on sale and make extras to freeze or bottle or turn into jams and jellies. If you have a local farmers market, check them out, as their seasonal produce might be cheaper than the supermarket.
Shop the Sales
Pay attention to when Kosher meat goes on sale and buy it when this happens, freezing the extra. If you have to buy it online, plan ahead so you can order a lot at once, as this is usually less expensive. If your local chain supermarket doesn't stock Kosher meats, ask them (politely) why not? If you know other Jewish families who would be willing to go there if Kosher options were available, let the supermarket know about it.
If possible, try to buy meat, fish and chicken in 'bulk' (i.e. whole chickens, rather than pieces) as it generally works out cheaper if you do the work yourself. Find recipes that call for different parts of the carcass that you might not usually use, like the necks, and if it calls for a lot of them, toss them into the freezer in a bag each time you buy a chicken, until you have enough. Don't forget to use the bones to make stock.
Baking at home will almost always work out cheaper, and it is easier to make heart healthy items this way as well (by using healthier liquid vegetable oils in place of margarine or shortening). Once again, to save time, make extra and freeze it.
Plan ahead for festivals like Passover. Keep an eye out for sales on the ingredients you plan to use and get them while they are cheap. Try to share costs by buying in bulk with other families.
Staying Kosher while on a budget does require extra work, however most of the time it also inspires healthier options, like using more seasonal vegetables and cooking at home. With planning, it is possible to keep Kosher and still enjoy delicious and nutritious meals.