Saturday, April 30, 2011

To Be Frugal Is to Cook

In my opinion, you can't live a frugal life without being able to cook. Yet, there is one frugal person I know that doesn't have a clue about cooking....my husband. Before meeting me he was very "efficient" with his money, he is an engineer. Yet, when it comes to food, he gravitated towards prepared/processed foods and take-out. The reason, he never learned to cook. Growing up his family routinely got take-out 5 or 6 nights a week, the other nights it was something processed. I grew up in a radically different home, dinner was always prepared at home, except for Saturday. My parents hired a sitter, ordered me a pizza, and went out to eat.

So, as my husband and I merged lives, the cooking issue emerged. If life was hectic, he'd say, just order something. Living the life of a poor college kid for 9 years as a student, and another 4 after graduation, I just couldn't let myself spend $15 Mexican take-out when I knew I could create equal if not better in my own kitchen for half the price. Within a year of marriage he had a change of heart; he loved home cooked food, and he loved the frugality of it too. Still, he doesn't know how to cook.....mainly because I love to do the cooking, and there hasn't been much opportunity. In an effort to foster cooking ability, and frugality, into our children, both of them spend a lot of time with me in the kitchen and grocery shopping.

If frugal living appeals to you, but you are not a cook, keep the following in mind:
  • cooking does not mean you have to be Julia Child. Keep it simple and add complexity later on, if at all;
  • develop the ability to make a few standard dishes you like;
  • figure out how to freeze the dishes you do make; frozen leftovers make for great lunches or "fast food" in a time pinch;
  • find recipes that use the same ingredients (i.e. rice, spices, eggs, etc.) and keep those on hand;
  • most dishes can be made for half the price of a restaurant meal....especially pasta dishes. You'll save quite a bit of money of a year's time; and
  • home cooked foods will hopefully reduce future health care costs....you control the ingredients and can make a huge different in your veggie and fruit intake.
What are your favorite cookbooks or recipes? I plan to spend more blog time on the concept of cooking in the month of May. I'll be inspired by the fresh veggies appearing at the local farmers' markets.

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