Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cheap eats

Everybody is very budget-conscious these days, and cutting costs means not just curtailing restaurant visits but trying to spend less at the grocery store as well. A couple of our new cookbooks can help you put delicious, filling meals on the table for a lot less money.
Eat Cheap But Eat Well: over 120 penny-pinching recipes is from Charles Mattocks (TV's The Poor Chef). He presents a variety of dishes that use either inexpensive cuts of meat or combine the meat with other ingredients to stretch it into more servings. As he points out, cutting out 12-oz steaks from your diet is not only good for your wallet, it's good for your health. Each recipe is simple to follow, the ingredients are easy to get here in Ketchikan, and he gives you a general idea of cost per serving (a note of caution here: this book is written for the readers Down South, who pay a lot less money for groceries than we do on our Alaskan island paradise. If Mattocks can get a pound of tilapia for under $5, more power to him. I know I can't). That being said, this book is a great way to start cutting your food budget.
Almost Meatless: recipes that are better for your health and the planet is focused on semi-vegetarianism as a health and ecology issue. But since the most expensive item on your dinner plate is the meat ($4 a pound for ground beef, for pete's sake!) - than the less meat you use, the cheaper your meals. Like Charles Mattocks, the authors of this cookbook propose a variety of ways to stretch a little bit of meat into many servings. Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond use chilis, casseroles, fajitias, soups, wraps, salads, stir-frys and pasta to make things interesting. Dine on Greek gyros, Albondigas meatballs, Shrimp risotto, Crab pad thai, Shepherd's pie or Tuna tartine. Good for you, and not hard on your pocketbook....

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