I've been thinking about ways to streamline things lately. Not just in the kitchen, but that is what we'll concentrate on here for space and time's sake. Part of that, is being organized, the other part is being thrifty (streamlining your budget). how much do you spend on food per week? ok, I'll go first, a typical week for wife and I (and I always make enough for about 4-5 peeps, so we can have lunch the next day) totals about 80 dollars. that's all week. that number might seem low, but you have to remember that we usually do not go out (we set aside 50 bucks a month to go somewhere "nice(r)" and often times, we let that accumulate so we can go somewhere really nice. One of the biggest tips that I can give is to get rid of processed foods and embrace produce. Not only are processed foods terrible for you, they can get kind of pricey. Another thing that I try to do is to have at least one, but preferably two veggie meals per week. In the meat-laden midwest, this might seem like a crazy concept, but it's a good way to get a lot of vitamins and it really makes you more creative as a cook. Don't think that you are limited to just salads or steamed broccoli either, there is a whole world out there to explore, think eastern cuisines where veg dominates. Curries, biryanis, stir frys, and soups are an excellent way to be creative on a budget. one thing that helps me out a TON with all this veg (spacewise and timewise) is prepping everything that I can when I get back from the store (do this on a weekend or day off). Leave the onions until cooking day but think about how much time you can save by looking at your menu (you did make a menu for the week, right?) and cutting up veg or meat (to be used within a day) ahead of time. Not only will you feel like a rockstar, you'll get to spend more time during the week with your family, or pets, or spelunking in the cavernous regions of Slovenia (well, someone might be into that), you get the idea. Think ahead, it's your biggest timesaver.
Embrace cheaper cuts of meat. There is a reason that you pay premium dollar for the more expensive meat treats: they're ridiculously easy to prepare. a monkey can grill a tenderloin, and a boneless, skinless chicken breast, but that same monkey might have a hard time making something delicious out of skirt and flank steak or chicken thighs and legs (that you yourself cut from a whole chicken, being sure to save the carcass for flavorful, velvety stock, right? RIGHT?), or heaven forbid, something from the offal family? it takes a well rounded cook to make something tasty out of meager supplies, but it is also ten times more satisfying. well, I have lots more tips, so I might have to add a new section to the blog...ok yeah, that sounds like a good idea, this is getting pretty windy (has stormy eyes, that flash at the...nevermind)
foodstuffage: I made caramelized onion soup the other night. It's basically pureed french onion, with a hearty handful of celery leaves thrown in and topped with pain de campagne croutons and sauteed asparagus. it was yums for days. The other meal is kind of a variation on thai stir fry. Shitake mushrooms, brocolli, collard greens, and baby corns, sauteed with oyster, fish and soy sauces, some stock and served over udon noodles. also good. The last pic is somewhat embarrassing, but I think that we are past that point by now, you all know I'm a thriftster...I started making my own corn chips. laugh if you want, but you can get a bag o' corn torts for like a nickel and then you can bake them (healthier) with a little olive oil and sea salt. warn the salsa...
tip o' the dish to ya: immerse yourself in cookbooks (the library, and...ahem, the internet are great sources, particularly food blogs, particularly MY food blog:). even if you think a recipe is too hard for you, it can still plant a seed in your brain about something you could do that might be similar, but a little easier. take a few ideas from here and there and you'll have tons of ideas for your menu. then, using your menu, plan your shopping list, only getting exactly what you need, even if something seems like a good deal, you only need what you are making for that week. don't forget to buy snacks, we all need snacks.
DISH recommends: Martha stewart's recipes. This lady didn't get to where she is today by not knowing her stuff. I usually get pretty consistent results from all the stuff of hers that I try.