My family loves Mexican! In fact, beans and rice is a weekly staple for my family. However, we also eat tacos, nachos and several different versions of burritos; many of which probably seem less authentic Mexican and more “hey, we’ve still have some of this in the fridge, let’s put it in a burrito!”
The problem is that if you aren’t careful, Mexican food can be expensive. Some popular ingredients for Mexican have seen massive inflation as the costs of gas has increased. There are also some ingredients manufacturers sell at high cost, because they know you will be attracted to pre-manufactured Mexican as opposed to homemade.
The solution? Another one of my favorite buy this, not that at the grocery store posts!
Dried Beans, Not Canned Beans
I’ve yet to see an official taste test between dried beans and canned beans to determine what tastes better. However, I know that dried beans are nearly half as expensive and my palate has yet to figure out the difference. Of course the downside is that you need to plan in advance so that you can soak the beans 24 hours before you can use them. Still, there is a lot of savings to be realized for those that know how to plan in advance and fill a bowl of beans with water.
Soft Tacos, Not Corn Shells
I don’t know what marketing genius managed to imbue the hunger psyche of America with hard-shell corn tacos, but it’s not surprising that crunchy tacos sell. Any potato chip commercial will confirm it. However, I should tell you that crunchy is expensive; a lot more expensive than soft flour tortillas.
At my local grocery store, 8 flour tortillas costs $.99 and 12 hard-shell corn tacos costs $1.99. It may not sound like that big of a deal. After all we are talking $.12 versus $.16 when you figure the cost by the shell. However, the price difference is more telling when you look at the cost per ounce. A hard-shell corn taco costs $.34/ ounce and soft flour tortillas? They cost only $.10 for an ounce.
The simple fact is that crunchiness costs a lot more. If crunch is a must, add a few tortilla chips to your soft taco.
Chicken, Not Ground Beef
Friends don’t let friends put ground beef in every Mexican meal. Everything cattle related is skyrocketing in cost thanks to the increasing price of feed and transportation. Beef prices are at an all time high right now, but there is one kind of meat that is cheap, easy to cook and versatile: whole chicken.
The national average for a whole chicken is about $1.31/pound as opposed to $2.88/pound for ground beef. You can cook chicken up in advance and then freeze the leftovers. Chicken compliments Mexican flavors well and is less than half the cost of beef. It is also healthier.
Bulk Spices, Not Taco Mixes
(Best Nova Narration Voice) “The young taco plant is harvested in the fall. Its leaves will be stripped and dried, then ground down to make pre-packaged taco seasoning.”
Just kidding. There is no such thing as a taco plant and those magical packages of taco seasoning from Ortega or Old El Paso are nothing more than everyday spices blended together, then pre-packaged to tax the wallet of those that never wondered what combination of spices should go into their taco mix.
I suggest a Mexican cookbook or google. In fact, this is the combination of seasonings for tacos that I found when googling. I guarantee that whatever you find, it is cheaper than the taco mix packets.
There are always frugal options. Even if you are making Mexican.