Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Time is Money

When it comes to cooking, convenience really is expensive. I discovered just how much timesavers cost when shopping on a budget this week. I really learned a lot about costs and smart shopping last night.

Think of how certain Food Network hosts will tell you to use things like pre-cut vegetables and bagged salads. They are indeed quite easy and convenient, but they do come with a price. They like to tell you how these things make your life easier, but neglect to mention how much they cost.

I went to the supermarket yesterday and purchased celery and spinach. I bought the full stalks of celery and leaf spinach by the bunch. I save a good three dollars doing this. Those savings cost me maybe 10 minutes of my time at most. I chopped the bottom and the leaves off of the celery and tossed them into the stock I was making. The hearts I trimmed up for snacks during the week. I haven't used the spinach yet, but it's not big deal to cut off the stems and toss the leaves in water to get rid of the dirt. I can give them a rough chop. The process keeps me acquainted with my knife.

I can go to the organic grocery store and buy pre-chopped fruits and vegetables that are organic and grown in South America, or I can go to the local farmer's market and support local agriculture, save on fossil fuels, and maybe work a tiny bit harder to prep my produce. Yet I've saved a buttload of money.

I have really begun to notice just how much things cost these days. For example I love bacon, but bacon is full of fat and calories. I started buying soy bacon, which isn't quite the same thing, but it gives me a similar texture to real bacon and has that salty flavor. I discovered last night that turkey bacon has less fat and fewer calories per slice and is two dollars cheaper. I think I'm buying turkey bacon from now on.

Seriously folks, are we all that lazy that we can't cut our own food? Do we really think we're doing our bodies a favor by spending more money on them?

And now for something completely different...

I made my first chicken Kiev last night. I mushed up some butter with garlic and whatever herbs looked mature enough in my pots. I cut pockets in two chicken breasts and sealed that up with toothpicks. The breading was a standard flour-milk and egg-bread crumb coating. Next I panfried the cutlets in olive oil. One of the kievs leaked a bit, but the bread crumb coating came out wonderfully crispy and golden. The other breast gave a nice squirt. I was pleased.

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