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Until yesterday yours truly was really wondering what this week’s subject should be-and then IT happened.  I was laid off at my day job.

Truly, I am still at the numb stage, but not all that surprised.  My day job was in the high end home improvement field-office administrator galore.  I did so much, there was not even an official title for all my job entailed.  But let’s face it-if the housing market is in the toilet, there’s just no need to pay someone to do all the jobs I did.

However, it is now my belief that this will be the “shove” I need to write more and think of plumbing supplies less.

What does this have to do with us here on What’s Cooking?

Simple-many of us have seen our salaries cut, hours slashed and our livlihoods shut down.  So what better time to talk about budget meals?

Yes, we know the drill-check the ads, clip your coupons, buy in bulk and in season and learn about healthy fillers-fast.

But what if you already are known as the most frugal coupon using shopper in your city?  How do you cut back even more?

Serve more meatless meals-try to use tofu once or twice a week.  It’s very inexpensive, nutritious and it can be mashed up into meatloaf to stretch the amount of serving you get out of a pound of ground meat.  

Tofu really does take on the flavors of whatever you cook it in.  I have even taken a class in vegan cooking-just to expand my family’s food horizons.  

Think comfort foods-mashed potatoes served with mushrooms and squash in a beef gravy.  Whole wheat pasta served with ratatouille.  Stir-fry all the “on their last leg” veggies with the tofu in any number of Asian or Indian sauces and serve over brown rice.

Try tabouli and “beef” it up with leftover chicken, fish or any other small bits of protein.

And the last thought until Wednesday’s column-I call it “must go” soup.  Take all the stuff that’s in the fridge that’s not enough to use as a full portion, mix it with a jar of your favorite pasta sauce and some extra cubed red potatoes and chicken stock and make an Italian stoup.

Another good budget tip-reread the last couple of weeks of columns-the crockpot is a great tool to cook tough, inexpensive cuts of meat and make them delicious-no sense being poor and mal-nourished.


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