by Buck Reed
Price Conscious Kitchen
No doubt, unless you are super rich, we all feel the crush of inflation and supply problems. Future historians will decide whose fault it is, but regardless, we must change our purchasing and eating habits. Case in point, if your favorite cereal isn’t on the shelves for three weeks, when it comes back, you may just buy the only two boxes left. Yes, I am a cereal hoarder. And not to toot my own horn, I have mostly been talking about this situation for almost my whole tenure as the Super Market Gourmet. So, this is it, hopefully my last article on the subject of saving money in the kitchen. I wouldn’t count on it, but let’s live in hope.
Okay, right off, we must change our shopping habits. I am a big proponent of just going to the market and letting the food speak to us on what we should create on our stoves and in our ovens. Arriving at the store with a plan is an important notion, and planning your meals may be the difference between eating well and throwing away your hard-earned money. That doesn’t mean we cannot be flexible, and given the unavailability of some ingredients, it will be important that we are. But once you have a plan, stick to it. One of the goals is to keep yourself from going shopping too often.
Buy foods that have a purpose. For instance, if you are going to cook a meal, make sure everyone will actually eat it. Also, there is the topic of leftovers. We cannot let extra meat loaf just sit in the fridge for a week before we throw it away. Brown bagging a meat loaf sandwich will stretch your food dollar a bit, yet can get a little tedious. A two- or three-week menu rotation might make it a little easier for you and creativity can help. Try turning it into Meat Loaf Parmesan or making a hash out of it. I heard about Meat Loaf Parmesan in a movie, and it works on the premise that if you put enough tomato sauce and cheese on anything, you can eat it. Try and think about what you like to eat and how you can repurpose it into something else you like to eat. I make a great meatloaf or cheeseburger soup. Email me and I will send the recipe.
Watch out for foods that are extravagant, but do not seem to be. Number one on the list is crumbs. That’s bread crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, cookie crumbs…you name it. All they are doing is taking a whole food and grinding it into crumbs. It seems to be an easy enough task, but if you do the math, you will find they are charging you 5 to 10 times more for the convenience.
Another idea is Peasant Soup. This soup is simply a combination of whatever you have in the kitchen and get rid of it in a soup. Ingredients include, but are not limited to, broth; milk or half and half; any frozen or fresh half bag of veggies you have; onions; celery; carrots; pasta, potatoes, or rice (or all three); half a jar of spaghetti sauce; herbs of choice; as well as any kind of leftover meat chopped. Just call it soupe paysanne and say it is French.
Did you enjoy this article, need a recipe, or have a question or idea, please contact me at RGuyintheKitchen@aol.com.