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Welcome to Home-Cooked Roots!

Meet Nicolette

I'm a pre-law student turned grocery budgeting and meal planning expert based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I'll teach you how to consistently prep nutritious meals for your family, all while lowering your grocery costs by hundreds of dollars every month.

Get Ready to Say Goodbye to Overspending

Here we're on a mission to help you slash your monthly grocery bills without sacrificing flavor or nutrition. Our curated collection of wallet-friendly recipes, smart shopping tips, and meal planning tools will revolutionize the way you approach your kitchen. Say goodbye to overspending and hello to tasty, affordable meals!

Grains and legumes in bowls.

The Humble Beginnings

My cooking journey started in 2016 when I had graduated from undergraduate and learned I owed just under $70,000 in student loan debt. And because I took out private loans, my minimum student loan payment was over $1,100/month.

Within the first couple of months I had a serious cash flow problem and was putting groceries on a credit card every month just to make ends meet. I was so scared I felt like I couldn't breathe. I rejected all of my recent acceptances to law school, moved in with my grandparents for a low monthly rent, sold as many excess belongings as possible, and began pinching every penny.

Within days of analyzing my spending and meal planning habits, I quickly realized three things:

  1. Regularly eating restaurant food and pre-made convenient options at the grocery store was absolutely sinking me financially.
  2. Animal-based proteins are significantly more expensive than plant-based proteins.
  3. I had a spending problem. I did not have an income problem.

Over the next 27 months, I mastered cooking and meal planning on a budget and dropped my food budget to just $25/week for 2 people (and paid off all $70k debt to boot!) šŸŽ‰.

The best part? While I can now afford to “splurge” a bit at the grocery store, the cheap meals I created during this time of my life we're so satisfying and nutritious, my family is still asking for them on a weekly basis. They're so delicious in fact, I knew I had to share them with the world.

Since launching Home-Cooked Roots in 2019, I've put out hundreds of affordable recipes that will satisfy all types of eaters, all while helping you cut your grocery bill by hundreds of dollars every month.

Is this Recipe Site Vegan?

You'll notice the recipes on Home-Cooked Roots are naturally made with plant-based and vegan ingredients. This website is meant to help you save money on groceries and eating primarily plant-based is fiscally proven to help you get there!

Side by side prices of lentils and ground beef from Walmart.com
Price comparison between lentils and beef at Walmart in 2023

With that being said, I'm also aware that there are times when animal-based foods are absolutely cheaper – government subsidies, coupons, food assistance programs, restaurant menus (spoiler: most restaurants won't give you a discount for taking grilled chicken off of their signature salad!), etc!

To cut recipe costs, a vast majority of our recipes are based around the cheapest plant-based foods like whole grains, potatoes, oats, beans, lentils, and tofu. I also exclusively use oat milk and other plant-based milks I make from scratch for cents on the dollar.

But don't worry, if you're feeding a mixed group of eaters, or simply eat a little bit of everything like we do, I do my best to give as many substitutions as possible. For example, if a recipe calls for tofu, and replacing it with ground beef works, I will indicate it in the recipe card.

How to Get Started

When I tell people I paid off $70k of debt in 27 months, the immediate question that follows is always, how did you do it!??!! It's such a loaded question, but it really comes down to 5 rules (that are still bulletproof during times of inflation):

  1. Learn how to cook from scratch – since I'm a giant math nerd, I know from tracking my own spending for almost a decade that restaurant meals have historically cost me ~400% more than cooking from scratch. If you're serious about saving, you need to learn how to properly cook a meal from scratch.
  2. Pick recipes that require you to purchase no more than 3-4 new ingredients. Base your meals around what you already have on hand. “Shop the shelf” first as they call it!
  3. Invest in a freezer. If there's one thing incredibly underrated in the frugal meal planning space it's utilizing your freezer and learning how to make homemade freezer meals.
  4. Eat leftovers for lunch. This not only eliminates the need to meal plan more meals for the week but cuts down on cooking, too.
  5. Plan no more than 4-5 dinners per week. Food waste is a GIANT cost for most people. I typically plan 4 dinners and spend the rest of the week creating meals out of leftovers or defrosting a pre-made freezer meal.

Check Out My Newest Recipes + Meal Planning Tools