Eating Well On a Budget: Part 7 – Cooking Fats and Oils
Posted on Friday, December 21st, 2012 at 8:00 am
Adding a bit of cooking oil or fat to your favorite dishes is a sure fire way to turn good food into a great dish. For some, the idea of adding fats or oils to their food may fly in the face of their current diet goals. It might also strike some fear into pocketbooks as their owners stare at the high price tags for some cooking oils.
However, adding cooking oils to your foods is a good way to add some healthy omega-3 fats and vitamin E to your diet. The Environmental Working Group has published a list of 7 oils that pack the most nutritional punch with the best value. The list includes olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. The oils with the best value include canola oil, corn oil and soybean oil. The EWG recommends for every $25 spent on your overall food budget, about $1-2 should go towards cooking oils and fats.
The EWG recommends skipping solid and trans fats. If the cooking fat in question remains solid at room temperature, you should probably enjoy it in moderation for better heart health. Foods like chicken skin, beef, pork, cheese, lard, butter, margarine, shortening and foods with partially hydrogenated oils are all fats to stray away from as much as possible.
Oils also make fantastic salad dressings. Olive oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil can all be mixed with vinegar or herbs to create delicious toppings for your favorite salad or vegetables. If you’re looking to save money while making your own salad dressing, the Environmental Working Group recommends mixing 1 part of these more expensive oils with 9 parts of a cheaper oil like canola oil. You’ll get a big dose of flavor and nutrition at a fraction of the cost.
You can also save money and calories by making your own cooking spray. In addition to costing extra money, commercial cooking sprays often contain additional or artificial ingredients. You can easily make your own cooking spray at home. Simply add your favorite oil to a spray bottle. You’ll probably use less oil while cooking, and you’ll save money in the long run. You can also add herbs like rosemary to your oil or even some garlic for an extra dose of flavor.
When you’re buying your cooking oils, make sure to read the labels. Anything that has been heavily ‘refined’ often contains dyes or perfumes to mask the result of the harsher production techniques they go through. If your budget allows for it, consider buying organic oils. These are made from organic ingredients and are free from artificial additives.