When I was a telecounselor on a hotline in a different New York State county, we often received calls when people had more month than money. But cooking on a budget is on everyone’s mind these days.
One of the time-tested ways of economizing cooking is old-fashioned, and in a hurried world where we can buy single-portion take-out we tend to forget it. It’s simple, though—getting more than one meal out of each meat cut we purchase. A terrific steak can make a meal one night and produce strips of lean meat to top a salad for lunch the next day. Spaghetti with meatballs and Italian sausage for dinner also yields hot submarine sandwiches the next evening. A homemade chicken pot pie in a 9 x 12 glass baking dish has a second incarnation reheated.
A brisket at $12 isn’t really costing you $12 when you can make four terrific meals from it: Served some of it sliced as pot roast one evening, in cold sandwiches the next day, the leftover portion oven-roasted with new potatoes the third time, and finally in pierogis. Not only does it taste great, but it was only $3 a meal.
Homemade soup is both economical and heartwarming, as lunch with homemade biscuits or to begin dinner. Cabbage, carrots, potatoes, leeks, and onions are often the start of gourmet recipes that started out as peasant food. French onion soup is just beef broth, onions, cheese, day-old bread, and a little wine. How inexpensive and homey can you get? A fish stew that lasts two meals is bouillabaisse elsewhere.
Substitute other protein sources for meat in some meals. Eggs are a remarkably economical source of protein at only about 10 cents each. Cheese—the real thing, but not necessary the gourmet brands—provides calcium at low cost.And include whatever items you love—olives, pickles, lox, Pomegranate juice, sauces—to perk up less expensive meals.
Make an apple pie to spice up supper, inexpensive when you think about it. Six or seven apples can make a pie to serve eight, and the crust is just shortening, flour, salt, and water.
Find farm markets and purchase fruits and vegetables in season. Think about learning to put up jars of preserves. It’s easy, and the kids can help.
Don’t believe it if someone says eating on a budget should look a particular way on the supermarket tab. Nonsense. Think back to Granny or your favorite aunt, and especially to your own heartwarming ethnic cooking. That’s how you do it.
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Please note: Articles by the Buffalo Alternative Medicine Examiner are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For further information or advice, consult your health practitioner.