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We talk about frugality a fair amount here in The Kitchn — if you don't believe me, just dig a little — but given the events of the last few weeks, we're going to start talking about it even more.
In one of Maxwell's recent daily emails, he wrote from his ever-sunny heart about how hopeful he feels given this economic downward spiral. "We're being handed a tremendous opportunity to refocus and rise to a new challenge." I couldn't agree more, and not just because — full disclosure — he is my husband.
Most people I know feel that it's time to buckle down and tighten our belts. Part of our job here at The Kitchn is to continue, through these hard times, to inspire you to cook more (maybe even more now), and to also focus on specific ways to help you save money. My credo will continue to be
Eat less quantity, waste less, continue to seek high quality ingredients.
I saw something the other day about how to find the absolute cheapest gallon of milk. I understand that many people are trying to feed large families on very fixed incomes and how difficult that is. However, I want remind you that when it's cheap, it's not free. Shifting to cheap food in an effort to save money can cause more harm than good. The mistake we're making is focusing on trying to get the same amount for less instead of shifting that focus to paring down quantity. It's a balance, I understand that. And we will support you in the quest to strike that balance.
But instead of starting from the concept of cheap, try starting from here:
This is a time to talk to our farmers and grocers. This is a time to plan our meals out ahead of time. This is a time to eat less meat and to use the meat we do eat in its entirety.
Instead of finding cheap chicken in order to continue eating it twice a week, what about buying one organic pastured chicken and learning (with our help) to roast it, pick it dry, and make soup from it, getting three meals out of one bird?
Another quote from Maxwell's email: "It's a time to focus on happiness and spend more time at home. It's a time to buy flowers and to start cooking again."
We're here for you. What an opportunity.
One final thought: I know there are a scant few who aren't scared, who feel flush (lucky you!) and have not been hit hard by the tumbling stock market, by a lost job or a rent increase. For you, I can recommend a few ways to help others:
• We're participating in the Donors' Choose Blogger Challenge again this year. I just gave $20 to help fund a kitchen center for kindergarten classroom because I believe that awareness about food and cooking starts early. Won't you join me?
• Kiva is an organization that supports farmers with loans. Just a small donation makes a difference. Check out the farmer Faith is supporting here.
• There are many hunger organizations across the country. Food Bank for NYC is one of many local hunger groups here in New York. Have a look around your neighborhood and find out how you can help those who are hungry.
• The Chez Panisse Foundation supports an educational program that uses food to nurture, educate and empower youth originally in Berkeley and Oakland, California, but with program replication happening nationwide. Send them a donation or get involved as a volunteer.
• Shop at farmers' markets as much as possible. By giving your money directly to farmers, you are helping a population that surely is feeling the squeeze of the economy. You are doing a good deed.
Some recent posts about cooking frugally:
• Could You Eat on $25 a Week?
• Laurie Colwin on Luxury and Frugality
• Freezing Fresh Produce
• Have You Ever Priced a Home Cooked Meal?
• Mindfulness About Waste
• Mark Bittman on Minimizing Meat
(images: Children cooking from Belling.co.uk, raw whole chicken from Faith Durand for The Kitchn, Delicious 30-Minute Chicken Posole soup from Emma Christensen for The Kitchn)
Last Week's Posted Email: From The Email: The Only Three Things You Really Need