Friday, January 18, 2008

Frugal cooking.

Learning to live frugally can sometimes be a challenge. It takes a complete change in the way you think about things and the time you are willing to spend to do it right.

As a whole, we have gotten used to the idea that a meal that takes 10 minutes to make is just as good for us as one that takes an hour and a half. The only real problem with that is the price.

Lets say that I wanted to have Chinese for dinner. That is great because Chinese food has lots of fresh veggies and can use less expensive cuts of meat, if you use meat at all. Now, if you live in a city, you would probably just order take out or have it delivered. Here is where you run into your first problem. Cost. Restaurants are in the business to make money. So you over pay for any take out that you buy. You are paying for the convenience of not having to cook. They also use a lot of MSG so it isn't as healthy as you might think.

Making a simple stir fry isn't difficult if you keep a few things on hand. I always keep soy sauce in the cabinet. I use it in all types of sauces and marinades, and I also use it to baste over roasted chicken. So it is very handy to have around. I also keep rice. It is cheap, will store for a really long time, and it is very versatile. I also keep fresh carrots and frozen broccoli and cauliflower. Again, inexpensive, versatile, and easy to store. Add those things to any fresh or left over meats and you have a nice quick stir fry meal. And the best part is that you can add a few other things you might have laying around the kitchen, like fresh garlic or peanuts, that will add flavor and nutrients with out costing you a fortune. If anyone wants the basics of stir fry, leave me a comment and I will post the process.

I sometimes use Ramen noodles instead of rice. If you grab them when they are on sale you can generally pick up several packages for less than a dollar. I generally use 1 package for every two people when I add it to a stir fry.

Cooking at home has many advantages over take out. It costs a lot less, you can control the ingredients, and you always get that wonderful feeling of making it yourself. And it is really hard to screw up a stir fry.

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