Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Help! I'm broke and need to feed my family & I don't know how to cook!

A cry for help was raised by a friend on an online forum. Here is my simple reply for frugal eating that this wife and mother could use even though she doesn't know much about cooking.

Hi Friend- Here are some things to keep in mind.
  • Whenever you use Ramen noodles or any type of super saturated "sodium" loaded food, you risk your blood pressure. So once in awhile is o.k. Constant is not. Unless of course there is no money and it is the only food available (short term, hopefully).
  • Anytime you cook in water, you save that water. There are nutrients in it that flavor, enrich, and help thicken your next dish. Example: cooking pasta? Drain it but save the liquid. It is good in soup. If cooking veggies, you eat the veggies, but have some of the seasoned liquid left, save it (freeze in a container that you add to). This is great in soups, too. Before you know it, you'll have a rich soup base and you can add a trifle of veggies or meat and have a bang up good soup for dinner.
  • When you roast any meat, save all the drippings. These make wonderful gravies. You don't need to buy the kind in a jar, make your own and use it in Shepherd's pie.  Or you can make a nice gravy (remember you saved water you cooked veggies or pasta in- use it, too) and add a bit of hamburger to it.  Serve it over rice, pasta, or toasted bread.
  • You can brown hamburger or ground turkey and use it in lots of ways. Cook up a big package and freeze it in portions for dishes and save your time browning it.
  • When you make sauces for your browned, ground meat, you can use some of the water in which you cooked pasta, veggies, etc. as the liquid. This enriches it so that you have more nutrients.
  • When you make your Shepherd's pie, don't worry if you don't have the exact ingredients. Make do! You can use whatever veggies you have. Instead of green bean, use pinto beans, or white beans, or whatever. Instead of mashed potatoes on top, make a "drop biscuit" and spoon it over the top.
  • You can have the sauce in the Shepherd's pie a red (tomato) sauce that you make out of spaghetti sauce or tomato soup or any combination of "red" sauce stuff you happen to have on hand. The name of the game is make do and use it all up.
  • Don't throw anything out unless you have allowed it to spoil. Remember that wrinkly carrots, potatoes, apples, peaches, etc. are still usable. Just don't use them if they have grown stinky or brown inside.
  • I hope some of this helps. Just keep in mind, it doesn't have to be perfect. Food is edible if not too salty, and not spoiled. So go for it and enjoy learning to serve nutritious meals to your family on a tight budget.
Oh yes, I don't know if you eat grits or not. Us'ens in the South does. So what you do is cook up a pot of grits, and stir in as much good sharp cheddar cheese as possible with a bit of butter. Cook up a few apples (leave peel on, get seed portion out, and cut apple in bite size pieces) in a little (very little) water and a little sugar (and cinnamon if you like). This makes a decent supper on a winter night. Cheese grits and stewed apples. I cook my apples in a skillet with the lid on it and cook 'em down kind of low to where there isn't much liquid in the skillet. In this supper you have a grain (grits is corn), a protein - cheese, and a fruit/vegetable in the apples.

So get cooking folks. You don't need special recipes and ingredients. You just need to take what you have on hand or what you can afford to buy and put it together in a creative and simple way.

1 comment:

  1. I love to read your frugal cooking ways! When I go have vegtables that spoil I put them in my compost pile out back behind the house. That nutreint-rich dirt will be used in the spring for a garden.


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