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Old 04-24-2014, 01:26 PM   #1
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 2
Love to cook, but only if I don't have to!

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.


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Old 04-24-2014, 01:42 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: south central coast/California
Posts: 9,754
Anni, we all are very glad you shared so much with your introduction, and we send you a big warm welcome to Discuss Cooking. I'm sure you appreciate your Dad and all you've learned because of him! You sound like a remarkable young woman, and we're most happy to have you here with us.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but rather by the moments that take our breath away.

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Old 04-24-2014, 01:44 PM   #3
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 23,812
Welcome to DC! Glad you joined us!
She who dies with the most toys, wins.
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Old 04-24-2014, 01:53 PM   #4
Sous Chef
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 673
Hi Anni, and welcome. I agree with many of your points. Especially the idea of stretching a budget with carbs. I did an Atkins thing recently for two weeks and found that without the carbs my food budget exploded. Proteins and veg are very expensive! I'm back to serving carbs now, I just keep mine to a minimum. My husband is a big eater and I need to stretch that food budget.
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Old 04-25-2014, 12:21 AM   #5
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Sunny Central Florida
Posts: 1,990
Welcome to DC

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Old 04-25-2014, 05:00 AM   #6
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: South West France
Posts: 588
Your tough experience gave you that rod of steel down your back that has, and will, get you through most anything life throws at you. I know, because we were very poor when I was a kid due to my Dad being very ill and couldn't work for some years. Too proud a man to ask for 'benefits' we struggled as a family but hey! Thanks to my clever Mum I can make a meal with a potato and an onion as we say ...........and my kids could cook like Heck on small budgets when they were students. Your skills could help to teach many low income people or families how to be creative as have done in the past teaching adult classes, especially men who had been suddenly widowed and didn't know where to start. Nice to make your acquaintance Annibelle
Celtic cook

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Old 04-25-2014, 12:18 PM   #7
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 1,759
Anni----- welcome to this site! Although I now can afford to indulge in some whims for cooking--- I can remember back when I couldn't.

It sounds as if you learned the GOOD lessons from having to be frugal. But I can't believe just $10 for food? I thought I was doing good with a $20/week budget, back in the day, a long time ago! Kudos to you.

Please share with us!

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