Saturday, October 29, 2011

0 Fab, Fit, & Fiscally Sound Foods: Or, How to Cook Delicious, Healthy Meals on a Budget :)

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In these challenging economic times, several people have mentioned to me that they are looking for ways to cook healthy meals for their families without breaking the bank. And from what I can tell, this seems to be a common refrain at large. People are now looking for ways to conserve funds and make the most of what they already have; and of course, this clearly has a direct impact upon one's cooking and grocery shopping practices as well.

However, when seen in the proper light, we can look at this a blessing in disguise. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. :) And nothing hones one's creativity in the kitchen like imposed limitations. Think of it as a fun opportunity to challenge yourself to think in new ways and create something fresh and novel that you probably wouldn't have thought of otherwise had it not been for current circumstances. And you're not alone either; there are pages of culinary history devoted to the long and time honored tradition of scrappy but highly resourceful and innovative chefs making the most of minimal ingredients. When the going gets tough, the tough take inventory of their pantries (and refrigerators), revise their grocery shopping lists accordingly, and then get creative in the kitchen. ;)

Just reframe the situation like this: Imagine you've been selected as a contestant on the show, "Chopped." You open your basket -- er, I mean your fridge and cupboards ;) -- and see what you've got to work with for that day's meals. Ready, set, go! :-D

Remember last year's blizzard and those freaky photos of East Coast supermarkets with empty shelves? [Most of you probably do, but just in case you were living under a rock in February 2010, I'll fill you in: In anticipation of the snow storm, people went nuts, (as they usually do before a storm!), and ravaged their local supermarkets like a pack of frenzied wildebeests on stampede. And then, when the storm hit, the supermarkets were unable to get their usual, regular food shipments to restock those empty shelves.] That situation also sent several of us into the kitchen in search of creative cooking solutions. Or, as Tim Gunn would say, it was definitely a "make it work" moment. :) However, at least in this case, you'll still be able to go grocery shopping if need be. LOL.

But seriously, I just want to let you know that I do pay attention to social media feedback (i.e., via blog comments, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and do carefully consider what readers have to say. And for those of you who find yourselves in the above situation, please don't throw your hands up in resignation or despair; I hear you loud and clear, and am here to help. "Never fear, Chef Cyberpenguin is here." :)

This is why, over the next few weeks or so, I'll be addressing these issues head-on in a new recipe series called "Resourceful Recipes," which will feature economical but healthy ingredients that can be crafted into something delicious with minimal time and effort. All of these recipes will feature fresh and seasonal foods combined with a common staple foods typically found in the ordinary cupboard. Fresh and in-season foods, as well as dry basic staples like rice and legumes, not only taste great and are good for you, but they can also be a good value for your money as well. And if you can snag seasonal produce on special at the supermarket, all the better. Simple and straightforward ingredients like brown rice, bananas, almonds, eggs, sweet potatoes, and broccoli are healthy, delicious, economical, and versatile. So, that's four reasons to feel good about what you'll be cooking and eating. :)

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