He’s not one of these food show followers who makes a different gourmet recipe every night of the week with the rare vegetables he picked up at the farmer’s market on his way home.
He’s more of an intuitive cook. A guy who can make a delicious family meal appear in our kitchen when it looks to me like the only thing in the fridge is some old condiments, a couple of naked Barbie dolls and a take-out menu (how did that get in there? yours truly asks innocently. See also, illustration. How does any of this stuff get in there?).
Not only is he a good cook, he’s a cheap cook. The other day in the kitchen, he served me a huge bowl of curried chickpeas with a side of vegetables and a charming lecture about how the entire meal cost just $1 in ingredients.
The recipe, roughly, for those playing along at home:
- Soak chickpeas overnight (this gives them a better texture and saves on gas because you only have to cook them for a few minutes the next day).
- Do some magic on the stove involving onions, garlic, some spices.
- Add carrots.
- When its all sizzly and the rest of your family wanders in and starts picking at the extra bits of carrot left on the cutting board and staring hungrily at the stockpot, pour in a can of tomatoes and some water.
- Add your pre-soaked chickpeas (Martin says it is important to use organic ones, because he thinks they taste much better).
- Cook for about 15 minutes.
- Serve garnished with homemade yogurt and some early chives from the garden.
- Let your wife make a silly video of you showing off your cheap, tasty curry.
The kids, of course, won’t eat this noise. They don’t know what they’re missing. We save a few not-spicy chickpeas out on the side for them, or give them a bowl of yogurt and some steamed vegetables. I don’t prep special meals for the girls per se; I usually just try to provide enough different foods at a meal that they can find something they like. If they can’t even the little one is capable of heating up a plate of leftover mac-n-cheese for herself.
Ultimately the point of this post isn’t to persuade you all to come over to my house for curry. Though he did make 8 quarts of the stuff the other night. The point is that a certain amount of kitchen savvy is a great path to cheap, delicious meals.
We’d pay $10 for an entree at our local Indian take-out place, and the food wouldn’t be organic or as fresh. Martin can cook that meal for $1 worth of ingredients, and by doing the prep work the night before he does the actual cooking, he can make it pretty fast too.
Martin hasn’t taken a lot of expensive cooking classes, and while we have a bookcase full of cookbooks in the kitchen, its mostly me who uses them. He just likes tinkering in the kitchen, and his hobby pays off big time in lower grocery bills and delicious, nutritious family meals for us.
You might have no interest at all in cooking, but you probably have a skill like this: some hobby or ability that helps you save a lot of money or brings a lot of value into your life. Please tell us about it in the comments!
Here’s Martin’s explanation of the curry magic, in his own words: