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When it comes to food and budgets, the two don’t always play nice. Taking a meal from frugal to fancy isn’t always easy, so people on the r/Cooking thread shared some tips and tricks to dress food up!

Mustard Powder

Via: bhofack2/iStock

“I always add mustard to boxed mac and cheese- currently just mustard powder, but I’ve heard adding the actual condiment works, too.”
Via: RinTheLost/r/Cooking

Crispy Meats

Via: bhofack2/iStock

“Texture. Tons of poverty meals are a variety of mush. (See the aforementioned Roni Alfredo). In the absence of a piece of bacon, a little crisped up cheap ham, some spam, even some bacon bits, something salty with a lil crunch to go on that can really change it and make it interesting. I actually ate some cheap turkey smoked sausage the other night (surprisingly low calorie count so we gave it a go) and fried it within an inch of its life. It was pretty good and would have made a decent struggle gumbo or similar.”
Via: mndsm79/r/Cooking

Seasonal Veggies

Via:Tatiana Krakowiak/iStock

“During the summer when produce is really cheap in rural areas (at least in the Midwest) I like to do zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, bell peppers, etc. Cooked until bright but with some crunch left!”
Via: Empathetic_tomatoes/r/Cooking

Affordable Herbs

Via: LiliGraphie/iStock

“Chive seeds are cheap and they’ll grow super easily in a windowsill in just a cup of dirt. Mince a few and toss them on top of whatever 30 seconds before serving.”
Via: Houseplantkiller123/r/Cooking

Dollar Store or Thrift Store Dish-ware

Via: Leigh Ann Speake/iStock

“When I worked in restaurants one thing I learned from the chefs was that people’s first taste is always with their eyes. So when I was single, I bought nice matched stoneware plates and bowls and coordinating placemats. I had cloth napkins. Of course a fresh flower arrangement and candles when I had a girl over for dinner. Every girl I dated remarked how nice the dinner setting was. You don’t need to spend much, just make sure it all matches. You can get all of it at Family Dollar and I guarantee you nobody will know.
My go-to meals were pasta with olive oil and garlic and parmesan, with a simple salad. And somehow it always tasted so much classier than the ingredients would suggest because candles and flowers do that. Oh and don’t forget the fresh black pepper from a grinder when you serve.”
Via: jimngo/r/Cooking

Spice It Up


“Red pepper flakes. They look fancy and taste fancy. Splurge on the good kind and they’ll last you for ages.”
Via: theCaityCat/r/Cooking

Topping Upon Toppings

Via: Ugur Karakoc/iStock

“I have a pack of Mozzarella and parma that I use to top up my hum drum frozen/chilled store bought pizza… A few olives and maybe some oregano and it’s a dream”
Via: Case1/r/Cooking

Caramelized Delight

Via: Mindstyle/iStock

“Caramelized onions. Cheap to make, doesn’t take too long, and that deep rich flavor makes a big difference.”
Via: Throwawayzies1234567/r/Cooking

Sprinkle On The Salt

Via: Wavebreakmedia

“I sprinkle a little kosher salt on a PB and J.”
Via: Vegetable_Drawer8409/r/Cooking