12 ways to help you eat well and spend less (recipe: Buttermilk Dressing)

12 Ways to Eat Well and Spend Less

Two long years ago a small group of keen food bloggers kicked off our Eat Well, Spend Less series. The series focuses on ways to feed our growing families nourishing and totally delicious foods while still staying within a reasonable budget.

Eat Well, Spend Less was created with you, the reader, in mind, but it has helped me immensely as the posts have been published over the months. The series has whipped my spending into shape and helped me to build better habits in the kitchen.

Since we’ve made it this far, we thought it was appropriate to take a look back at where we’ve come and the topics we’ve covered. Today I’m highlighting the best tips that I’ve shared since the series’ conception.

The points are brief, yet contain links to the full article should you wish to read more on the subject. And don’t miss my favorite new salad dressing recipe at the bottom of the post.

12 ways to eat well and spend less

12 ways to help you eat well and spend less

1. Decide to make more homemade substitutes for pantry staples. Start small. Preserve in season. Be realistic.

2. Choose five favorite frugal meals and put one per week into your menu plan. Aim for soups or vegetarian meals, as it is difficult to ‘spend less’ on quality meats.

3. Speaking of a menu plan, put one into action.

4. Implement conscientious, intentional grocery shopping. Avoid impulse buys. Make a list. Buy bulk. Don’t rush.

store food in jars for longer dry storage

5. Learn how to store pantry food for maximum shelf life. Contamination = Cash Lost.

6. Pack your own snacks when traveling. Better for you, better for your wallet.

7. Learn how to make soup from scratch. Then make it in season, summer or winter.

8. Learn how to plan a successful potluck, the ultimate way to entertain without breaking the bank.

9. Snack smart. Eat whole foods, made yourself (and learn to cook rice properly).

10. Remember, you can save money by making freezer cooking really work for you. Eat out less. Make the baby food. Use your freezer.

11. Simmer your own stock. Chicken. Vegetable. Beef. You name it.

12. Send Batch Cooking to the rescue. It can bail you out every time. No need for take-out or processed food choices.

homemade buttermilk salad dressing

Recipe: Buttermilk Salad Dressing

This Buttermilk Salad Dressing had to get tucked into this post since homemade vinaigrettes and dressings are a big way I save money on groceries. We eat salads daily, yet in our nearly eleven years of marriage, Danny will admit he’s never seen me buy salad dressing.

Gosh, homemade just tastes way better too. And they are completely customizable. In summer, my dressings are full of chopped herbs and in winter I let the garlic do the talking – and we stay healthier because of it.

Most of the time, I just throw a vinaigrette together willy-nilly and, I’ll admit, the ratios don’t always taste awesome. For this simple buttermilk dressing, however, I nailed it.

Spring greens are finally starting to take over the winter produce in my crisper, and this creamy dressing is just the ticket for buttercrunch lettuce, delicate red leaf or baby spinach.

Creamy Buttermilk Salad Dressing

A simple creamy Buttermilk Salad Dressing with plenty of tang.
4 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiments
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 1065kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 1 clove garlic (a large one)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt I like to use lemon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  • Peel and chop garlic, then mush it on the cutting board with the blade of your knife until it is a paste.
  • Combine all ingredients, including the garlic paste in a half-pint jar
  • Cover the jar with a lid and shake well.
  • Taste salad dressing and adjust seasoning if required. Store in the refrigeration for up to 5 days.


Calories: 1065kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 116g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 3025mg | Potassium: 81mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 100IU | Vitamin C: 12.5mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 0.6mg

How many of these tips to eating well and spending less do you already implement in your kitchen?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of local farmers markets in the area so Walmart is still my only option. But, I gave myself a challenge to try out your “healthy” freezer cooking and I love it. The dinner is ready in no time but it’s still natural and healthy. Oh, and smart snacking – it really works. 🙂 Thank you!!!

    • Good for you! I’m looking forward to summer ‘smart snacking’ where cherry tomatoes and crisps cucumbers are cheap and prevalent!

  2. 11/12 Ain’t bad, eh? My “needs improvement” area is definitely soups. Not that I buy them, we just hardly ever eat them. I didn’t grow up eating anything but salty cans, and it isn’t a great memory. I dont even think about soups for a meal. Soups almost never make it on our menu plan. Which is silly – time to go back and read your post, Aimee!

    • Well done!! 11/12 is incredible!! Ah, soups. You know, they are a good skill to master. Most times I’m making a ‘clean out the fridge soup’, which is kind of like the ultimate way to save $$. Guess you have some homework for this spring!

  3. These are such great tips and this dressing looks amazing! I can not wait to try it!

  4. I regularly do7- 8 of these. During the fall I usually tack on making my own stock too. 🙂 That said, I’ve really fallen off the wagon the past 2 weeks. I’m going to make my grocery list tonight and plan to eat well and spend less.

  5. Great tips and I love the dressing!

  6. Nice tips! I always like to make my own dressings!

  7. Such a smart post and that dressing sounds great!

  8. Wow, great idea Aimee!

  9. I love your tips! I need to put more than half of them into action in my household!

  10. What a cool post! And this dressing looks great!

  11. Love these tips, Aimee! What a delish, easy dressing recipe too. Saving it for my next salad!

  12. I know 3 seems so logical and 5 is my favorite one-that’s not to say the rest aren’t equally useful. Great round-up and great series, Aimee.

  13. Great tips! I recently bought a big floor freezer and it has been the best purchase! You can freeze a lot of healthy meals. I make a lot more food from scratch now too and if I make too much and just pop a label on it and stick it in the freezer.

  14. Yum! I love homemade dressings, but my hubby says the oil separates out and feels funny in his mouth. Any tips for keeping it emulsified? 🙂
    And, by the way, I always cook my brown rice according to your recipe now. It’s so much better that way, and if you add cooked pinto beans, chili powder, and cumin, it’s so good. Thanks!

    • If you start with an egg yolk in the bottom of a blender and add the other ingredients slowly, finishing with the oil in a drizzle, this will stay emulsified. You’d want to cut the recipe in half and use it up within 3 days, though.

  15. love all these useful and helpful tips!! I’m a big fan of finding what things I can make at home (ketchup) and save on them at the store! plus its then fresh and way better for me!

  16. Aimee,
    I suck at #3 and #8 on this list. Menu planning mainly because during the CSA farm share season I eat what shows up in the box and I don’t know until I get it what will be in there. I do have general ideas, for example I know I’m not getting tomatoes in May, but otherwise menu planning is on the fly. I do know what’s in the freezers and pantry so I use them, I just don’t write it all out first. When I do, my spouse will often come home and ask “can we have ________ for dinner?” and the plan gets changed anyway. Perhaps after he’s gone . . .
    Nice list!

  17. 4 stars
    So excited about this buttermilk dressing recipe! We have been wanting to try more homemade dressing recipes. Think we’ll be doing this this weekend when we get home from the Farmer’s Market. Thanks again!

  18. I love reading these posts about tips. I like to buy my produce and meat on special every week and make big batches that I freeze in small bags. One of my son is at University and he loves having mommy homemade meals during the week. It’s so comforting to him. I am going to share this post on twitter right now Aimée.

  19. These are really wonderful tips you’ve put together 🙂 I love homemade dressing and this one looks so tasty!

  20. All amazing ideas, Aimee! I’m always on the hunt for new salad dressings to make my salads more interesting… Can’t wait to try this one!

  21. Great list.. The buttermilk dressing recipe looks great- going to try it- the kids have been asking for something more than oil and vinegar dressings on our nightly salad.

  22. I just made this dressing and it is great, however it seems really salty! Is 1 and 1/4 teaspoons correct? I may have to add some more of the other ingredients to balance it out….thanks!

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