Frugal is as frugal does--- At least, that's what my Mama used to say. Actually, I think that was stupid, not frugal and I think that was Forrest Gump's mama, not mine. But I digress... We're talking about frugality here, not stupidity. Although a case for stupidity could be made for the way we buy groceries these days--throwing just about anything in our carts, left, right and center.
The first mistake is thinking we have no time and are therefore, slaves to convenience foods. What's so helpful about Hamburger Helper, anyway? It's full of scary ingredients, costs too much money and isn't doing a thing for you health-wise.
The second mistake we make is thinking we are the exception to the 24 hours a day rule-we ALL have the same amount of time each day. So why not make real food for yourself and your family a priority? Cooking from scratch doesn't require leg irons attached to you and the stove and dramatic farewells to family and friends. You will see other rooms in your house and yes, you can have a life. It is really easy to pull this off--I've done it for years.
First, you need a plan. Write down everything your family likes. Is spaghetti a winner? Does the family like the way you make Great Aunt Suzy's Chicken Supreme (all done with healthy ingredients, of course) or is Great Aunt Suzy's Chicken Supreme too time consuming to make? Ditch it and start over.
Bottom Line: Your dinners have to be simple and if you're really smart, freezable. Every time you cook dinner, try doubling what you make. Every time you cook. Then you'll always have something ready to go in the freezer.
Sounds basic, right? It is. But it is amazing how many people live off adrenaline, driving home from work each day sweating it out because they don't have one earthly idea what's for dinner. If you have a plan, the world is your oyster. Or Nacho Stuffed Shells, as this case may be. Check out this recipe!
Leaane Ely is the author of Healthy Foods : An Irreverent Guide to Understanding Nutrition and Feeding Your Family Well (2001, Champion Press (WI))