"Splurge" Meals, For A Steal!

Everyone's looking for ways to save money right now, and The Early Show's "Early on the Cheap" series focused on the kitchen Friday.

It's possible to enjoy some of your favorite meals in a budget-friendly way, as Early Show contributor Katie Lee Joel proved.

The key, it turns out, is substituting ingredients that are less expensive than the ones typically called for in recipes, but that provide the same flavor.

SPLURGE: Lobster Salad
SAVE: Lobster Salad with Shrimp

Lobster rolls and lobster salad are a favorite summer dish for many people. But lobster is $29 a pound! Katie suggests replacing some of the lobster in your recipe with shrimp, which only costs $11 a pound. You can do half lobster/half shrimp, or even less lobster, depending on how much you would like to spend. Katie says you'll need about a pound of lobster meat/shrimp to serve four people.

SPLURGE: Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon
SAVE: Skirt Steak

Filet Mignon can easily cost $26 a pound. Luckily, you can still get the same meaty flavor you're craving with skirt steak, at a much more reasonable price of $11 a pound. The skirt steak recipe actually comes from Katie's husband! Apparently, Billy Joel is a real fan of skirt steak! Katie quickly whisked together Billy's marinade for skirt steak. She put some marinated steak on a grill pan. You can simply slice the steak and serve it, but it's also delicious wrapped up in flour tortillas, fajita style.

SPLURGE: Wild Salmon
SAVE: Canned Salmon

It turns out that all canned salmon -- about $2.69 for a 14-ounce can -- is wild salmon! That certainly beats paying $25 a pound for the fresh stuff. Obviously, if a beautiful fillet of salmon is what you're after, there is no substitute. But don't dismiss canned salmon - you really can make some tasty dishes with it, as katie showed. She quickly mixed together some salmon cakes, which she served with pineapple salsa. She chilled the salmon cakes (picture a burger!), then cooked in a skillet for three-to-four minutes a side.

SAVE: Sangria

Obviously, the sky's the limit in terms of price when you're buying a bottle of wine. But if you're entertaining, you typically want to serve guests a nice bottle you're sure they'll enjoy. And if you're having several friends over, chances are you'll need more than one bottle! You can stretch your dollars by serving sangria instead. Because sangria is a combination of several ingredients, it enables your single bottle of wine to go further, essentially getting more servings out of that single bottle. Also, because you're combining the wine with other ingredients, you can feel free to spend less on the wine itself. Katie suggests spending $10 or less! Katie showed a white sangria -- a fun change from the 1more traditional red sangria!