Hello, my name is Anni and I love to cook. I used to "have" to cook for my family and, even though I sometimes enjoyed it, I find that living alone and cooking just for myself or company is much better! My two sons' eating habits swung wildly between loving my cooking and being astonishingly picky. They were both very consistent in their hatred of whole wheat pasta.
I started cooking at 15 (20 years ago!) when my first child was born. I lived with my dad who told me I had to pay rent or cook and clean to earn my keep. He gave me $10 a week for groceries for him and I. (My son was on formula which was covered by WIC). We ate a lot of elbow macaroni, rice and potatoes. I learned cook in such a way as to stretch meat until it almost snapped! The level of creativity required to keep two adults fed on that budget was sky high. Even though it was a tough time and my father was incredibly stingy, I can't look back with bitterness as I was self-taught amazing things in a sink or swim classroom of life. Also, my dad would eat literally ANYTHING and think it was delicious and compliment me profusely. He kept my confidence way up even when I could barely choke down what I made.
I did a lot of interesting things to stretch that budget:
1. Bought lots of cheap, refined carbs. This is frowned upon today, but I couldn't have gotten by without them!
2. Mastered every variation of chicken and rice
3. Mastered every variation of round steak and potatoes
4. Mastered every variation of ground beef and any other ingredients
5. Asked my dad to pick up milk on his way home from work once a week. This would never come out of the $10, so it was kind of a budget cheat.
6. Made fairly edible soup out of table scraps
7. Cooked a bag of dried pinto beans and hid them in EVERYTHING
8. Learned to bake and make homemade tortillas and biscuits
9. Up-front leftovers. This is basically when you put away some food before dinner and let your dad think you made less than you did so he doesn't eat it all. There was no such thing as leftovers in his presence.
10. Watered down juice almost 50/50. I still can't drink full-strength juice!
11. Used powdered milk for recipes. This really isn't any cheaper nowadays but it was then.
Now that I'm an adult, my tastes have become a bit more refined. Even though I can afford better food, I find that I live on a very small grocery budget. (Thanks, Dad!) I buy in season and I'm pretty gosh-darn creative. I love browsing the internet and magazines for recipe ideas. I'm very excited about this forum. It looks to be fairly busy and have a lot of great cooks on it.
I know this was a long introduction, but I felt like sharing.