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Cheap. Fast. Good!


Cheap. Fast. Good! Cover




Eating Like a Big Spender for Just a Few Dollars

We're the Desperation Dinners Duo, and for the past decade, we have concentrated our energy on finding every trick and technique imaginable for saving time in the kitchen. The results have been published in two Desperation Dinners cookbooks, on our Web site, and in our syndicated newspaper column. A few years ago, we both encountered desperation of a different sort. Like many people, we watched our household expenses spin out of control while our retirement accounts took a dive and college savings accounts dwindled. Since then, we've weathered corporate downsizing and job changes, and, at times, we've worried whether the checkbook would balance.

While we realized that we were fortunate to still have investments to fret over and jobs to go to, the economic downturn jabbing at us—and at our friends and relatives—presented significant challenges. And then it hit us: What would happen if we shifted our energies a bit and started concentrating on saving money in the kitchen, in addition to time?

We went in looking for pennies, but what we found were dollars. After spending months researching every avenue we could find, developing thrifty recipes, and rethinking our eating habits, we hold these four truths to be self-evident:

First, saving money in the kitchen is as simple as one four-letter word: Cook. Yes, our Desperation Dinners cookbooks strongly advocate cooking, but good times allowed for plenty of dinners out, too. When we started to examine just a couple of months' worth of restaurant bills (including fast-food drive-through and pizza delivery), we were shocked. And we weren't alone. The average U.S. family of four speds nearly $240 a month eating out. In a typical year, Americans eat 70 billion meals at 870,000 restaurants. The good news was that, since we were spending so much eating out, we knew we could save all the more by eating more often at home. What we quickly figured out was that cooking amazing meals at home—even on a budget—is as basic as getting a plan, picking a recipe, and heating up the stove.

Saving money in the kitchen isn't really about pinching pennies, and, truthfully, we just weren't motivated to reuse tea bags and wash out used plastic storage bags. For us, saving money in the kitchen is about good stewardship— making wise buying decisions and then making the most of the ingredients once we get them home. We were startled to discover that the average American household throws away 470 pounds of food every year and that as much as 12 percent of purchased grocery items are never used. Guilty? You bet, and we vowed to change our wasteful ways. Fortunately, it's easy to do, and we've detailed exactly how, step by step, in the following pages.

The second truth is probably the most important: It's essential to cook meals that you're going to enjoy. Otherwise, that's money and time right down the garbage disposal. When we started telling family and friends that our next project would be a budget cookbook, we were a little surprised by their reaction. There seemed to be a definite bias against the idea of thrifty food: "You eat a lot of bean and rice, right?" The answer is, yes, we do eat some beans, but we also feast on the likes of Chicken and Apples with Dijon Cream, Moroccan Meatballs over Couscous, Marmalade-Glazed Ham, Stuffed Peppers with Kielbasa Rice, Beef Stew à la Guatemala, and Catfish with a Pecan Crust. And when we do eat beans, we turn them into a gourmet delight. Check out our Sassy Chickpea Burgers with Lemon Aïoli, Very Veggie Lentil Chili, and "Barbecued" Chicken and Black Bean Burritos.

Just in case you're dubious, too, we'd like to make one guarantee: Food doesn't have to cost a fortune to be wonderful! When it comes to cooking, spending a lot of money does not ensure that your soup, pasta sauce, or skillet meal will be delicious. And the opposite is also true: It doesn't take a lot of money to produce amazing meals that you'll be proud to serve to your family, friends, and guests. If you're like us, eating well—really well—is a priority, but it just doesn't need to cost so much.

As for the third essential truth: Time is a key ingredient. We will always be the Desperation Dinners Duo, and, probably much like yours, our hectic lives haven't slowed down for a minute. Our recipes must be realistic, easy, and relatively quick to prepare so that, when we're tired or rushed, we won't be forced to eat an expensive meal out or buy costly prepared foods.

The minute you walk through the kitchen door to start dinner, you're automatically saving money. You just need to decide how much money you want to save. After spending months slashing our own food expenses, we landed on our fourth and final esential truth: The amount of money saved depends on a willingness to take the necessary steps. For example, the fewer prepped foods we buy, the more money we pocket. The more cooking steps we do ourselves, the more we enhance the budget's bottom line. The more carefully we shop and the more carefully we go out of our way to bag a bargain or clip a coupon, the fatter the wallet is likely to get.

In the following pages, we'll cover each detail of these steps toward creating a smarter, more economical kitchen. Then you can experiment to find what works for you. When all is said and done, this book is simply about making choices. We'll give you the information and the recipes; you need to make smart and realistic ones that fit whatever time you have and whatever efforts you're willing to make. But remember that you don't need to spend half a day in the kitchen to eat well yet save money. So, enough said. Let's get started.

Product Details

Mills, Beverly
Workman Publishing
Guarnaccia, Steven
Ross, Alicia
Culinary Arts & Techniques
Consumer education
Methods - General
Methods - Quick & Easy
Cooking and Food-Quick and Easy
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
, Y
9.25 x 7.5 in

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Related Subjects

Cooking and Food » Quick and Easy » Budget Cooking
Cooking and Food » Quick and Easy » Time Saving

Cheap. Fast. Good! Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Workman Publishing - English 9780761131762 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The focus in this collection aimed at working parents like the loyal fans of Mills and Ross's 'Desperation Dinners' syndicated newspaper column is far more on how to save money than on quality or speed. The authors offer many helpful penny-pinching ideas, such as finding bread outlet stores and getting reasonably priced salad greens. Most of the recipes are quick to assemble, even for less experienced cooks, as long as frozen or canned ingredients are used and not the optional fresh or from-scratch versions. How tasty the food is will depend on the family; almost all the dishes, such as the simple, warming A Chicken in Every Pot, have an unfussy feel to them, which is great for picky kids but may strike some as too bland. The authors make gestures to international cuisine, as with the Moroccan-style Lentil and Chickpea Soup with Cilantro, and Mary's Greek-Inspired Pasta, but to minimize costs they use few spices or special ingredients, often resulting in inauthentic takes on another country's food. But cooks who are too thrifty or frazzled (or both) to be snobbish about the sophistication of what they prepare will undoubtedly relish the authors' familiar, easygoing but expert manner and the satisfying variety of recipes." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Who doesn’t want to eat cheaper? And who doesn’t want to eat better? And who wouldn’t like to sit down to a dinner of Salmon Pasta with Tomatoes and Dill, or Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Pepper Medley, or Enchanting Enchiladas, or Moroccan Meatballs over Couscous—and know that any one of these meals (for four) costs less than $2 a serving?

In their two previous cookbooks, Desperation Dinners! and Desperation Entertaining!—together with over 330,000 copies in print— Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross showed us how to save time in the kitchen without ever sacrificing flavor. Now the Desperate duo turns to the universally appealing idea of saving money, too. Cheap. Fast. Good! is not a penny-pinching cookbook—it’s a “get smart” cookbook. It’s about planning smart, shopping smart, cooking smart, and, not coincidentally, about eating smart. The work of two brilliant problem solvers, it presents 275 delicious recipes that are thrifty, quick to prepare, and intrinsically family-friendly and healthy, too: Barbecued Chicken and Black Bean Burritos, Sweet Onion Chowder, Bayou Stew, Ham and Asparagus Crostini, Basic Beef Brisket, Perfect Spinach Pesto Pizza, Gayle’s Country-Style Steak, Souped-Up Chicken Stroganoff. Recipes are filled with techniques for pushing flavor, substituting ingredients, and using what’s in the refrigerator or pantry already, and every chapter includes strategies for running a kitchen more economically—The When, Where, and How of Shopping, The Miracle of Menu Planning, Making Your Own Convenience Items, Cutting Up a Roasted Chicken, and more.

"Synopsis" by , Not a penny-pinching cookbook—a "get smart!" cookbook.

No more staring helplessly at rising grocery bills or, too harried for time, shelling out twenty-five bucks for mediocre take-out. The work of two brilliant problem-solvers, Cheap. Fast. Good! cuts through both the budget dilemma and the time dilemma with 275 recipes for great, family-pleasing dishes, most of which take under 25 minutes to prepare and average out to cost less—and usually far less—than $2 a serving.

Home Ec simplified

Saving money in the kitchen is as simple as one four-letter word: Cook. But cooking to save means cooking food you and your family are going to love—and cooking (and shopping) smart. In dozens of time-and-money-saving tips, techniques, strategies, and solutions, the authors show how to make the right choices again and again.

They'll never know you're thrifty

Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Pepper Medley

Stuffed Peppers with Kielbasa Rice

Zesty Chicken Sauté

Bayou Stew

Catfish with Pecan Crust

Cinco de Mayo Skillet

Quickie Cacciatore

Perfect Spinach Pesto Pizza

Moroccan Meatballs Over Couscous

Salmon Pasta with Tomatoes and Dill

...Even when it's time to s-t-r-e-t-c-h

Onion Chopped Steak with Easy Gravy

Oven-Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs

Fall Sausage and Cabbage Sauté

Ultra-Easy Veggie Quesadillas

Pasta e Fagioli

My Beef and Barley Soup

Ziti Mexi-Cali

"Synopsis" by , This new collection by the authors of "Desperation Dinners" is about planning smart, shopping smart, cooking smart, and, not coincidentally, about eating smart. Presents 275 delicious recipes that are thrifty, quick to prepare, and intrinsically family-friendly and healthy, too. Full color.
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