Thursday, April 8, 2010

Budget Cooking

Having had grandparents who grew up during the Great Depression, and being a poor college student, myself, I wanted to learn more about ways to cut back, and how to save money while still providing good, nutritious family meals. Luckily for me, I took a food preparation class this year, which taught me a lot about wise money spending and budgeting, how to shop for food, how to prepare the food, and how to make it look and taste good, while still being good FOR you.

So I took a couple of opportunities this last week to make use of my knowledge.
  1. Easter Dinner: Family traditions are important. Unfortunately, for the last few years while I've been in college, Easter traditions have kind of fallen apart, as I've been away from my family and home. So this year, I decided to start my own Easter tradition, by inviting my friends over for a big Easter dinner. I have a love for food, and for feeding people--a love I share with my late Grandma Fishburn, who never let a soul leave her home hungry. I also have a love for German Potato Salad--a recipe my Grandma Humphrey made every Easter, which came strait from Germany when my great great grandmother, Kunnigunde Grethlein, brought it with her when she moved to America in the late 1800's. Combining my love for family, friends, and food, and with my grandmothers in mind, I organized an amazing meal for everyone to share. We had 11 people total who shared in the meal. I made a ham, German potato salad, and peanut butter bars to go along with the salads and vegetables brought by three of my friends. Joseph and I (my fiancé) made homemade bread to eat with the meal as well, and coupled that with my roommate's homemade blackberry freezer jam. The total cost of what I spent to make my part of the meal could not have been more than $30, which, when feeding 11 people AND having leftovers, is a pretty good deal. I used coupons for the food, so that definitely helped. As we ate together in my little living room, we talked about our lives, and some of our family's Easter traditions. Truly, special holiday gatherings are something to be shared with friends, especially when family's not around.
  2. Magnificent Meal: In my food class we had the opportunity to create a "Magnificent Meal" for our final project and lab. For each person in our group, we could only spend $2.50 per person in creating a family meal to share. We were able to pull it off, making cream cheese enchiladas and black beans, with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and sour cream to go with it. We added a sprig of cilantro as a garnish, and made horchata to drink. Clearly it was Mexican themed. For dessert we had chocolate dream pie--a chocolate pudding pie with whipped cream mixture and a shortbread crust on the bottom. It was really delicious, and hard to believe that we made it all for only $2.51 per person (we went over by a penny with our costs).
As I made these meals I thought about my family, and the importance of family meal time. And as I did my best to practice money-saving techniques, I feel connected to my grandmothers, who worked to hard to save money while caring for their families (especially since my Grandma Fishburn had 8 children to take care of, and still managed to feed anyone else who dropped by). I feel better prepared for when I get married and start having kids. I know the things I need to properly feed everyone, and make it enjoyable, too.

For the final part of my food-cooking experience, I asked my mom to gather some recipes for me that have been used in my family (from my grandmothers, great grandmothers, and even my Aunt Sunee from Thailand!). I want to start a collection of recipes--family recipes. I have a lot of handwritten recipes from my Grandma Humphrey that I want to type out and put in a book, along with recipes from my mother, Grandma Fishburn, and traditional recipes from each country of origin I can trace my family back to. It's the perfect way to remember where I'm from, and to share my love for food and family with every meal.

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