Recession Recipes with Ruth Reichl

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Have you found ways to eat well and cheaply in this economy? Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl has a few ideas, but we want to hear from you. Post your your healthy, delicious and affordable recipe in the comments selection below. Get creative! Leonard and Ruth will go over your submissions and offer a few suggestions of their own.


Zucchini Omelet

Hash-brown Rice with Eggs

Pasta with Beet Greens

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Roast Chicken with Pan Gravy


The Joys of Incidental Stock by Francis Lam

Just Food Urban Chicken Program

Community Gardening Resources

Earth Boxes

The Growing Connection


Ruth Reichl

Comments [55]

Sigmund from Brooklyn

Ms. Judy Hiller-Schwartz,

You made a sort of half-hearted attempt to leave personal contact information. Please repost your comments and include a photo, social security number, bank account numbers, landline and cell-phone numbers.

Sep. 26 2011 11:00 PM
Marion Furlong from Port Charlotte Florida

Here is a cheap recipe I love. You can use a new butter which is much healthier, "SMART BALANCE" 50/50 Butter blend, it tastes the same as butter.

12 oz can of Bumble Bee Tuna
12 oz mashed potato
Italian bread. crusts will do.
Salt and Pepper
1 egg

In a blender or food proccesser, grate the bread until like bread crumbs. Spread onto a cookie sheet and shake to spread out, mix in the seasoning. Place under the broiler until crumbs are golden. Rub crumbs with finger tips to make the finer. Mix together the drained tuna and mashed potato until well mixed. Divide into 6 rounds and flatten. Brush one side with egg and place into breadcrumbs. Next brush the other side and turn onto the breadcrums. Repeat until all are covered. Put about 1/2 stick of butter into a frying pan and fry on a medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes on each side. Serve with microwaved frozen vegetables. Nice with ketchup. Serves 3. Costs about $5 for the fish cakes.

May. 05 2009 01:04 PM
Frank Walsh from Clifton NJ

I've never heard of this recipe outside my wife's family, but we love it and man is it cheap!
Spaghetti And Eggs:
Boil a pound of spaghetti. While that's heating put about a quarter inch of olive oil in the bottom of a large frying pan. Once the oil's hot dump in a dozen beaten eggs. Scramble them up, drain off the spaghetti, mix the two in a big bowl, and you've got dinner for four in ten minutes for about four dollars. We serve it topped with a liberal helping of grated cheese and black pepper. Delicious!

May. 02 2009 12:18 AM
anonyme from new york, NY

Good Fat Is Good For You!!!!!!!! (Rancid fat, processed and trans fat are bad for you) expeller pressed oils are good for you, real butter is good for you, cold pressed olive oil is good for you, organic coconut oil is good for you!!!! And fat gives satiety - "sticks to the ribs"

Fun cheap dinner I learned in France: fry or roast (in oil or with butter) some potatoes cut in strips like french fries. Soft boil some eggs. Dip the taters in the soft boiled eggs - mmmmmmmm. (Have some veggies with) talk about comfort food. Some people also cut strips of toast to dip in the egg. Mmm with coarse sea salt - trace minerals, no chemicals mmmmm

Omelettes and fritatas are good too!

Mar. 31 2009 01:43 PM
Natalie from Staten Island

My husband and I juice organic fruits and vegetables at least 2x per week. The pulp that goes in the discard compartment is great for composting, but since we live in an apartment there's no composting option for us.

I've found uses for the pulp and now regularly make "pulp cake". I take an organic carrot cake recipe and simply replace the grated carrot ingredient with an equal amount of pulp. Delish! A great use of otherwise discarded, nutritious food, a money-saver, and a time saver as well when you factor in not having to grate carrots!

Mar. 25 2009 06:12 PM
Judy Hiller-Schwartz from 63 Avenue A, Apt 17A, New York, N.Y. 10009

Upon checking the Zuchini Omelet recipe, I noticed some things that I was concerned about. This recipe is for one serving, and it contains three tablespoons of added fat. I know whole eggs and butter are good for the flavor, but couldn't that have been cut back a bit?
Also, I'll supply you with a tip about salting a vegetable to draw out bitter juices. I usually put those vegetables in a collander when I put the salt on. When it is finished, I run water over them and then blot to remove the excess water.
I am a foodie myself, who is a Culinary Institute of America Alumni. I am always analyzing/decontructing recipes to make them more healthy, yet trying not to sacrifice flavor.
I am out of work, and would really appreciate it if this comment could be forwared to Ruth Reichel. Perhaps she, or anyone else who may read this, could help me find a job in a Test Kitchen.

Thank you
Judy Hiller-Schwartz

Mar. 25 2009 10:30 AM
Paul Berk from Brooklyn

I was disappointed in the segment. I'd been hoping for something really practical, instead it was just repeated hectoring about making stock and buying organic and cutting up my own chickens. Only Arianne from New Orleans with her kitchari offered something really helpful.

Mar. 25 2009 09:12 AM
P. L. from New York City

very skeptical about no. 40's account.

Mar. 24 2009 03:01 PM
Pavel Gurvich from Norwalk, CT

I found something in common with Ruth when I heard that she uses chicken bones from her friends’ dishes to make chicken stock.
I do not do it with chickens but I prepare my fish soup out of salmon heads, salmon bones, salmon skins I am getting almost for nothing at the shop that prepares fillets for local stores. Up to recent they were giving them to me for free. However they charged me $10 for about 20 pounds of stuff last time. They used to throw away this. Now they claim that they sell heads to some stores.
I freeze it by small portions and then prepare soup that I eat every morning. It gives me tons of omega-3 fat acids, fish cartilages and other very healthy ingredients. I boil it for about 8 hours. Then I run it in food processor and boil it again with spinach, spices and other ingredients. Then I run whole mixture through food processor again and I have soup pourer for a week.
I need to add that I'm very healthy 73 years old immigrant from Soviet Union who experienced starvation during WWII. Also most of the people who tried my soup found it very tasty. One of my friends from Sound Cycling club for which I lead rides always asks me to bring this soup to her when she arranges picnics at her house.

Mar. 24 2009 02:13 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

To Mel from Brooklyn [43], chances are it'd be fine, but why the mystery and who needs an expert? Take a couple of pieces of fruit and try it! Experiment. Then you'll know for sure.

Mar. 24 2009 02:02 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

As for the question of how long food lasts, it lasts far longer even in the fridge than most people think. We are just so paranoid.

The trick is to put the food away once it's cooled down, and when we go to the fridge to get food out, not to leave the door open while we dance around and talk on the phone. Open the door, take something out/put something away and then CLOSE THE DOOR immediately. Open it up again when necessary.

Bottom line, if food is spoiled, we our noses will tell us.

Throwing food out by some kind of general, (paranoid) formula ("oh, it's been in there for 3 days, so it's no good) is part of our "waste" problem.

Mar. 24 2009 01:59 PM
karen from NJ

I am happy to know I am no longer alone (everything old is new again) My family: has a large garden, freezes/cans the bounty, cooks meals in bulk like stuffed peppers and freezes them for a later date. So many nights I can whip up a nutritious dinner quickly from my homemade frozen foods.

Mar. 24 2009 01:58 PM
mel from brooklyn

Is freezing fresh fruit okay? I often buy whole pineapples, etc. but my little family can't eat it all before it goes bad.

Mar. 24 2009 01:58 PM
stephanie from jersey shore

Leftover Chinese take-out rice makes the best rice pudding... just takes a little milk, sugar, eggs, touch of butter and whatever spices you like.

Mar. 24 2009 01:55 PM

Chinatown offers a number of bargains, ie, snow peas for some reason are, and have been for years, $3.99 uptown. In Chinatown, they have recently risen from $.99/lb to $1.29.

I have no idea why there is such a marked and consistent discrepancy.

Mar. 24 2009 01:52 PM
stefano giovannini from 11206

Indian vegetarians that moved to London developed anemia as the food in the UK is refined.

In India they unknownlingly used to eat animal protein thru insects that were in their produce and grains.

Mar. 24 2009 01:52 PM

STALE BREAD!!!! FOR croutons....grated for bread crumbs....Bread pudding...french toast....

So many people just throw out dry out bread...It's amazing how many dishes taste even better with the added texture of a dash of bread good....

Mar. 24 2009 01:52 PM
P. L. from New York City

For those who are concerned with the smell from home cooking (when you are full, the lingering odor from frying, say, can be unwelcome), try spraying (liberally) white vinegar diluted with water (you can adjust the ratio depending) into the air after cooking. It works wonders, and absolutely eco-friendly (and of course, harmless to humans and pets).

Mar. 24 2009 01:51 PM
John from New York, New York

I see a number of recipes that call for bread. Here's a suggestion: Make your own. For about 2 dollars, you can make enough to last a week. It takes some practice, but you'll never go back to buying it at the store again.

Mar. 24 2009 01:50 PM
Carol Scudder from Brooklyn

Yes organic meat can be expensive, but you just have to be more careful about what you buy ... Even at Whole Foods, you can buy organic chicken legs or thighs, they are MUCH cheaper, and tastier than breast meat. Trader Joe's has some great deals on cheeses, organic and non-organic. While I would always prefer to buy organic, sometimes meats prove too expensive, so I go to local butchers where they have a high turnover, and you can see them cutting the meat right before your eyes. At least this seems less "industrial", and more "made with respect" than meat you buy at a supermarket, where it's been cut and packaged who knows how long.

Mar. 24 2009 01:49 PM
DMV from Bronx, NY

Sure, you can use food stamps at markets, but if someone has more than one job and barely can afford family time, where will they find the time to get to a market? How many greenmarkets are in the Bronx? I know of one, and it's open only on Tuesday morning until 9 am. And the market in Union Square, the largest greenmarket, if I'm correct, doesn't accept food stamps. You need time and the proper social context to become a locovore.

It's not that eating well is elitist, it's that the amount of time necessary to be educated about food quality is predominantly exclusive of difficult economic situations. It's not necessarily only the "elite" who can afford this quality, but it is an exclusive few.

Mar. 24 2009 01:46 PM
Zonya Gingrich from Queens

In addition to saving chicken bones for stock, I save veggie scraps for stock. Carrot peelings, potato peelings, onion pieces not good enough for cooking, ends of celery, the piece of garlic that is left after I put it through the garlic press...everything goes into a bag in the freezer until I have enough for stock.

Mar. 24 2009 01:45 PM
peter in Brooklyn from brooklyn

While you are on the subject of stocks, I have a trick I learned from my that South American family that is basically a stock, but goes in a completely different direction. Instead of throwing away the pineapple skin (which frequently ends up being almost half the fruit you pay for), they cook it in about two quarts of water with a couple of cinnamon sticks for about 20 minutes, cool and strain it and leave it in a pitcher in the fridge. It's a very refreshing alternative to water in the summer. You can also use the skin of other fruit like apples.

Mar. 24 2009 01:44 PM
Laura from Staten Island

You can get inexpensive organic produce. I swear by Urban Organics. They deliver a box of what's in season every week.

Mar. 24 2009 01:42 PM
Eve Vaterlaus from New City

I was raised by my mother & family to always make stock and use vegetable water, my mother called her broth "potage garbage"
I think the grandmothers who lived through the recession were great teachers of this type of cooking.
Tell about salad dressing, how much better to toss than buy bottles.

Mar. 24 2009 01:39 PM
sclark from Ringwood

I've been experimenting with a new pressure cooker. Made beef stock last night. It looks & smells great. I still need to skim the fat tonight. I'm really looking forward to using it.
My chicken stock always makes my soups better.

My grandparents used to make eggs for dinner in the 70's when I was a kid. It was sort of an adventure from my father's insistence on meat, veg & starch.

Mar. 24 2009 01:39 PM
TK from NJ

Recycling water:

I boiled kale yesterday and saved the water. I plan to add it to a stew/soup later this week.

I've used pasta water to thicken pasta sauces.

Mar. 24 2009 01:37 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

OMG other people's bones??? I hope it never gets that bad!

Ramen noodles 24/7 first!

Mar. 24 2009 01:36 PM
Dan from Brooklyn

Leonard mentioned veggies being cheaper at farmers' markets. I've found prices generally to be higher at farmers' markets, sometimes significantly so. Maybe I'm spoiled by the low prices at the Park Slope Food Coop?

Mar. 24 2009 01:36 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Leonard, I'm a big fan, but please quit interrupting Ms. Reichl. Let her finish her important thoughts! We can't mind-read.

Mar. 24 2009 01:36 PM
Gary from UWS


I love your show and I think you're the most brilliant radio host out there. However, hasn't this subject on organic food/slow-food movement been beaten to death?

Mar. 24 2009 01:34 PM
Betty Anne from Ridgewood

My mother and father raised 4 kids on a salary of less than $30,000 per year back in the 80's and 90's. She didn't have cookbooks nor was she a great cook. She used common sense in stretching healthy meals. Use common sense when you go to the grocery store.

You can freeze things for FREE with a straw and a ziplock bag.

Mar. 24 2009 01:34 PM
Kimberley Myles from Allendale NJ

I have been trying to eat more local, in season foods, and have found these two cookbooks incredibly helpful.
The recipes are delicious, and use easily available ingredients in interesting ways. I always get compliments when I entertain using them, and I cook meatless meals 4 nights a week from these recipes, and nobody misses the meat!

"Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant" by the Moosewood Collective
"Still Life Withe Menu" by Mollie Katzen

Mar. 24 2009 01:34 PM
Maria Cocozza from new york city

My family is Italian and my grandmother always used to tell me how back in Italy they raised entire families on legumes (lots of soups). Growing up my mom made soup all year long. Even in the summer.

I usually clean out my frig when I make soup. I get a kick out of making something delicious out of things people would throw out (chicken wing tips, backs, etc which I always save). Wilted carrots, celery, etc.

Mar. 24 2009 01:33 PM
Joe Boucher from NY, NY

MFK Fisher's "How to Cook a Wolf" is about those times when "the wolf is at the door." She's always worth reading and this one is on point.

Mar. 24 2009 01:30 PM
Paul Berk from Brooklyn


I just finished cooking up $5 worth of lamb shanks in the pressure cooker. They leave a lot of flavor in the pound of chick peas I cooked with them, but there's very little actual meat there. Do you think this is a false economy (lamb shanks are pretty cheap) considering how little actual lamb meat I get from them?

Mar. 24 2009 01:28 PM
Sherry Waldman from Cedarhurst, NY

1) I use my freezer way more of the time, shopping wherever an item I use is on sale, buying larger amounts and freezing.

2) I buy produce from the sale rack and make rather than buy roasted peppers and oven-dried tomatoes. Even marinate mozzarella balls and do some bread baking with the bread machine that had been sitting in my closet for 3+ years,.

Mar. 24 2009 01:15 PM
jason from manhattan

This is not a recipe, but one of my favorite low-cost meals is frozen dumplings from China town. I buy 50 hand-made delicious pork and vegetable dumplings for $8.00. Five or six is enough for a meal. With a few drops of chili oil, soy, or gyoza sauce it's perfect. Cook time is 5-7 minutes in boiling water or fried to a golden brown in a skillet.

Mar. 24 2009 01:15 PM
George from NYC

This is a great blog based on 'eating well on $6 a day' as she says...

Mar. 24 2009 12:28 PM
Jason from Brooklyn

Growing you own food to some degree should also be pushed a bit more. This not only helps in the costs but it also encourages more outdoor activities that is good for you health in general. With this in mind, why is HR 875, The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, placing so many burdens on someone trying to have a small garden for their family’s consumption?

Mar. 24 2009 11:42 AM
Evelyn Lamberg from Westfield, NJ

Soup is one of our favorite meals. Buy a roasting chicken on sale. Use its meat, until not enough is left for a meal. Take remaining meat off the bone but don't completely strip all the meat off the bones, set meat aside. Simmer carcass with a little carrot, onion and celery and a teaspoon of salt and perhaps a garlic clove, for at least two hours. Strain the stock, add more carrot, onion, celery, peas and noodles or potatoes or brown rice or white kidney beans. Add salt to taste, plus seasonings if desired (poultry seasoning or marjoram or rosemary). Add cooked meat at end to just warm up. Best the second day.

Our supermarket had beef bones the other day, so bought one, along with neckbones and some boney beef. This is in the freezer and I'll make beef vegetable soup (which contains, in addition to the vegetables in chicken soup: green beans, lima beans, a can of tomatoes, or any left-over vegetables except spinach, though a touch of thinly sliced raw cabbage in the beginning, gives it a nice flavor. Follow cooking procedure as above.Simmer beef bones about two hours, meat should be cooked until just well done, not until it disintegrates. Add vegetables according to the length of time they need to cook. Also better the second day. PS my mother used to use a parsnip--but that's a personal preference.

I also was given a meaty ham bone recently and have made bean soup and lentil soup. One could also make pea soup.

Mar. 24 2009 11:08 AM
Nicole Straight from Westport, CT

Hi, I am a big fan of Ruth's books. I own a cooking school called Time to Eat! where I teach busy people how to make family friendly meals in 15 minutes. I have just created a new series of recession buster classes called 15 for $15. People learn how to make great, fresh meals that take 15 Minutes and cost $15 or less to make. Here is a sample recipe. To view the other menus for these classes you can visit my website

Crispy pesto turkey cutlets

1 package turkey scaloppini (thinly sliced turkey, Shady Brook are the "turkey people"
1 C. panko breadcrumbs
2 tbs. prepared pesto
1 tbs olive oil
2 C. washed baby spinach
1 C. chicken stock, water or white wine

Add olive oil to a large nonstick pan on medium high heat. Combine panko and pesto in a bowl. Dredge each piece of turkey in the panko crust. Add turkey pieces to pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until panko is crispy. Remove turkey and add washed spinach to the pan. Add ½ C. chicken stock and cook spinach down quickly until just wilted and green. Serve with turkey.

Mar. 23 2009 07:33 PM
Anna from Sunnyside

One of my favorite money-saving recipes is Jim Lahey's No-knead Bread. We make this about twice a week: it takes a total of maybe 15 minutes of actual work and the rest is just rising time. I didn't expect to be baking my own bread regularly, but this recipe is surprisingly easy once you get in the habit. It costs less than $0.70 a loaf and tastes much better than any bread we can buy at the grocery store.

Also, dried beans are cheap and filling and delicious. I cook them ahead of time and freeze them in small portions so I can come home from work and throw together dinner before my blood sugar crashes. Recently I made this great Indian-style black-eyed pea soup with cooked black-eyed peas, onion, cumin, coriander, garam masala, tomato paste or sauce, and a little cream or half-and-half. Even better as leftovers!

Mar. 23 2009 05:50 PM
Dan from Inwood

1) Cook, cook, cook.

2) Waste nothing. For example, rinse out spent Hoisin bottles with warm stock to get the last of the sauce.

Save leftovers on plates for the stock pot, including bones. Learn about cheap cuts of meat.

4) Brown bag, brown bag, brown bag. Bring snacks from home instead of noshing on overpriced noshing items such as sandwiches, chips, etc. Better a slab of Jacques Torres chocolate or great almonds from home than a candy bar of Twinky on the road. Bring drinks from home in thermoses.

5) Record every food expense in categories such as groceries, noshing, dining, etc. to get a grip on your spending habits.

6) Buy in bulk, freezer and shelf room allowing.

7) Don't stint on buying high quality ingredients, which are far less expensive than eating out and will reward your efforts.

8) Eat with others.

9) "Eat to live, don't live to eat." paraphrase from Ben Franklin

Mangia, mangia!

Mar. 23 2009 03:45 PM

Am looking forward to hearing what thirfty ideas Ruth will be able to offer on tomorrow's show.

When they raised the prices at my company's cafeteria, I decided to start bringing my lunch from home (in protest!). I've been making terrific, appealing and very satisying lunch items for myself. I live in a small apartment and each kitchen tool must really earn its' keep. My much contemplated purchase of an immersion blender has been a wonderful tool and worth the space.

I've been buying vegetables on the expired shelf (which often offers organic for on the cheap) and make delicious soup. The expired fruits I buy go immediately into apple and pear cobbler - and since the fruit is ripe, it's perfect for this purpose.

It's a trade off -- time or money...

Mar. 23 2009 03:45 PM
magenta from Hudson Heights

I am a self-employed musician whose schedule and income are both highly variable. In addition, I'm a serious foodie from decades in California with prominent Bay Area chefs as friends, so I know how to eat when there is money and time - however, I am also very happy to eat simply on a daily basis. Living alone, I try to cook up a large pot of grain (rice, millet,etc.) and use it as the foundation for several days of meals; first perhaps with vegetable and a protein (varying each to keep it interesting), then maybe as a salad with whatever odds and ends I have around (olives, cheese, scallions, etc.) with a dressing I make from scratch, and then finally as rice pudding with currants or heated as breakfast cereal with friuts. I also try to make a big pot of soup to have around for several days. And since my great weakness is treating myself to delicious baked goods WAY too often when I'm on the run, I finally discovered that if I make myself a batch of bran or banana muffins or a loaf fruit/nut bread at home, I've got dessert for a week and it prevents me from patronizing our wonderful bakeries on a daily basis. These practices seem best for both my weight and my wallet and allow me to go out now and then for a great restaurant meal without feeling any guilt.

Mar. 22 2009 07:33 PM
smita from The Village, Manhattan

Here is a list of my favorite neighborhood retailers.
1. East Village Cheese for cheese
2. Porto Rico Importing Co for coffee
3. Trader Joes for dry goods and tofu
4. Union Square / Chinatown for veggies
5. Bruno's Bakery for treats and cappuccino

Grocery shop every two weeks. Make one meal a day raw eg fruit/veggies and yogurt. $ 10/ week for impulse buying!

It feels a bit like a New Year's Resolution - lets see how it goes :-)

Mar. 21 2009 01:18 PM
Bohdan Peter Rekshynskyj from East Village, Manhattan, NYC

This REALLY works! Go to the local Greenmarket videlicet: (or if the ingredients that follow are not available, try Commodities Natural Market, Healthfully, or Whole Foods in the East Village). Get all the ingredients and you can actually dine at least 7 times on this!

Organic Italian bread ($2.49 at Whole Foods!). You can freeze it for longer use.
Organic Virgin Olive Oil (Shop around! I use 365 Organic Extra Virgin from Whole Foods.)
Organic Garlic.
Organic Tomato.
Organic Red Onion.
Organic Parsley. (you can store this in the fridge, cut the bottoms (use in another dish) and store in a glass cup of water.)
Maille Old Style Whole Grain Dijon Mustard (darn, it's not Organic, chuckle!)
Real Salt (, available at in the East Village).
Applegate Farms Roasted Turkey Breast (natural or organic, depending on budget - Whole Foods Houston Street seems to have the best prices so far.)

Take two slices of the bread and lightly toast them.
Smear a spoonful of olive oil on both slices.
Lightly salt the bread (using Real Salt).
Mince two cloves of garlic (poor man's penicillin, by the way), a slice or three of the red onion and several sprigs of parsley (very healthy and counteracts garlic breath too!).
Add to a bowl. Add a moderate amount of the mustard. Mix. Use a knife to smear it on the toasted bread. (Savor the rest! ;-) )
Make around 3 slices of tomato - and chop roughly, adding it on top of the bread.
You only need ONE (usually out of seven) slice of the Roasted Turkey Breast. Roughly shred the slice and cover the both breads.
A glass of red wine (actually, the 5 Liter Burgundy Box by Peter Vella (available at quite a bargain and not bad! But I do miss Chateau d'Yquem though.)

Mangia! Mangia! Mangia!

Mar. 21 2009 09:30 AM
Lee Sherman

My wife spent some time working at a school in the Indian Himalayas, and came home with a taste for rice and dhal. We cook this twice a week in large quantities and I bring it to work in plastic containers to heat up in the microwave. We belong to a CSA (winter and summer) and use whatever vegetables (potato,/carrot/turnip/squash) are available at the time, and we usually 1/4" dice them.
We always start by toasting cumin seeds and mustard seeds in olive oil. Next we add garlic/ginger/onions/chilies (depending on what we have in the house) and, once those are nice and caramelized, add the diced veggies and keep the heat going for a few minutes. Spices come next, usually some combination that includes at least 1 tsp of turmeric, plus some combo paprika/mustard/chili powder/fenugreek/cinnamon/cayenne. When it starts to smell fragrant in the house, we add a tbsp of sambal pedas and then throw in the lentils (either red lentils or yellow split peas) and water or, if we have it, homemade broth. Cooking time depends on which type of lentil we use. Ladled over a bowl of rice, it's total comfort food.

Mar. 20 2009 01:07 PM
Paul Berk from Brooklyn

Collards! Cook with chick peas, carrots, celery, or black-eyed peas or any combination. For flavor, cook with olive oil, mashed flat anchovies and garlic or ham cubes or smoked pork or lamb shanks or italian sausage and hot pepper flakes or hot pepper oil.

Mar. 20 2009 12:55 PM
Gregory from The Bronx

Food and cooking is my life. I've got a million recommendations but I'll give just three.

1. Check the internet for a few of your local (preferably no pricey Manhattan-based) supermarket chains and bookmark their weekly specials page. Create your shopping list (and stick to your list!) and allow the weekly specials to shape your menu for that week.

2. Prepare your own foods instead of buying ready-made (i.e., salad dressings, mixed salad greens). Not only are they easy to make and cheaper, they taste better and have no artificial anything added!

3. Buy whole chickens, chop them up yourself, and wrap the parts separately for freezing. Use the whole bird, particularly the bones for stock which can be strained, reduced and frozen.

Mar. 19 2009 01:53 PM
Ruth C Lewin from Hoboken, NJ

Growing up poor and Puerto Rican in NYC, we ate eating lots of rice & beans, and meat was used as a flavor boosting accessory. Cook minced garlic, chopped onions, chopped green pepper, green olives/capers in olive oil (doesn't have to be the best). Add a can of tomato sauce. Add oregano, cumin, salt & pepper. Fresh cilantro if available, but not necessary. Chop and add any tomatoes that you want to use up, but not necessary. Add beans. Dried beans soaked and boiled in ham hocks, or other boney meat, are best; but you can add a bit of chopped bacon to the veggies above, cook until almost crisp, and throw in canned beans, and still end up with yummy beans. Any leftover pork or beef can be chopped up and added as the meat. The trick is to use what you have on hand. White rice, boiled/steamed with salt and a glob of olive oil, finish up the meal. Tostones (double fried green plaintains) are a complimentary treat.

Mar. 19 2009 12:55 PM
Arianne from New Orleans, LA

Kitchari is a very nutritous and inexpensive meal. It is rice and lentils cooked together with any vegetables you like. Fresh vegetable and grains are very inexpensive. It's even cheaper if you buy the grains out of a bulk bin and buy the vegetable fresh and whole and chop them at home yourself. I eat this meal myself almost every night and between the vegetable and spice varity I never get tired of it.

Mar. 19 2009 12:45 PM
Carly from Brooklyn, NY

While this isn't a recipe per se, it's still a way to enjoy fresh, delicious produce on the cheap. Purchasing a share in a neighborhood CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is incredibly cost-efficient - you receive a great variety of veggies, fruit, eggs, cheese, even flowers every week for around $20/week, depending on the specific CSA. It ends up being a lot cheaper than buying organic, local produce at the grocery and is more convenient than the farmer's market! Also, growing fresh herbs, greens, and veggies in your kitchen window, fire escape, or other outdoor space is a blast and helps to save loads of money over the course of the year.

Mar. 19 2009 12:44 PM
LTrippe from New York City

I got this idea from Mark Bittman's article about breakfast recently in the NY Times. (

Take a cup of cooked wheatberries (simple instructions above), add chopped scallions, halved cherry tomatoes, tofu cubes (or chicken, ground beef, flakes of leftover fish), and steamed broccoli florets (again, leftovers!). Dress with a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil (or sesame oil).

Great for take-to-work lunch or dinner: put it in a plastic container with secure lid. If you like it warm, microwave it. I use the version with flaked fish, sans broccoli, for breakfast.

Mar. 18 2009 12:05 PM

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