How To Transform Boring, Inexpensive Food Into Extraordinary Dishes

Getting the usual bargain buys at the grocery store gets sort of old, after a while, don’t you think? Luckily, a little imagination and creativity goes a long way! It’s much easier than you’d think to transform those tired kitchen staples into seemingly new, refreshing, and impressive dishes that one might even dare to describe as somewhat fancy. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a luxurious meal without the luxurious price tag?

1. Preparation

Small changes in how you prepare your food can make a world of difference. Cook ingredients with vegetable stock, instead of water, for an easy flavor boost. Try browning your vegan butter to gain a nutty richness that just screams fancy shmancy restaurant. Also, be sure to roast those veggies! Caramelization forces veggies to live up to their true potential. I mean, have you tried roasted tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, garlic, or onions? Okay, I’ll stop there.

2. Past Its Prime Produce

Reach for the fruits that are on sale due to small bruises or blemishes. Haven’t you learned that looks aren’t everything? There’s still lots you can do with mushy fruit. Blend fruits up into a delicious smoothie, make homemade jam, or create fruit compote (fancy, right?).

3. When in Doubt, Purée It Out 

Veggies, like fruits, hit the clearance rack when they start to not look so great anymore. Treasure these opportunities! This is your chance to act like the trendy chef of an expensive restaurant. It’s as easy as blending up cooked veggies with some liquid (veggie stock, non-dairy milk, etc.) and seasonings. If you love creamy, velvety smooth mashed potatoes, make them, and refer to them as “potato purée.”

4. Get Saucy 

To me, a meal lacking a sauce is incomplete. Sauce is every bland food’s better half and best friend. Adding interesting sauces to your carbs and veggies definitely makes foods more appetizing. I use walnuts in place of expensive pine nuts, and nutritional yeast to make easy vegan-friendly pesto. Infusing white wine into a lemon sauce is a sure way to kick things up a bit. For a basic, creamy white sauce, or béchamel (ooh la la), all you really need is vegan butter, flour, and non-dairy milk to fool people into thinking you’re a renowned French chef. 

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