As many of you who follow on Facebook know, my father passed away late last month. The hole he left is enormous, and I miss him terribly.
When I was young, my mother passed away, and my dad took over parenting full time. He served as both a mother and a father, but not only that, he was my friend. He taught me most of what I know, and a lot of what I have shared on the blog came from lessons I learned from him. As a way of honoring him, I’d like to share five of the best tips on frugality he taught me. I’ll be dividing this up into parts that will be published over the next few days.
Frugality Tip #1
The first and probably the most important frugality lesson that my father taught me was how to cook. Learning all you can about food combinations, cooking techniques, spices and herbs, and preservation and storage will give you an upper hand in making a delicious, low cost meal for your family.
Daddy loved to talk about food, and I guess I take that from him. Before he passed, if I hadn’t seen him, I would call him each day to check and make sure he was all right. Inevitably, we would talk about what we had cooked or eaten that day. He liked to tell me about a new recipe he had tried or a different way of cooking something he had made for years. He taught me how to “taste” a recipe in my mind. You know how when you are reading a book how you can see the imagery from the book in your mind’s eye? He taught me how to do the same thing with my taste palette when reading a recipe, and for the life of me I have no idea how to explain how to do that to anyone else. I think that part of what he taught me was to know and recognize the tastes of ingredients—to try and pick them out in a dish we had eaten and to appreciate the combinations and how they would marry together.
At an early age, my father had me in the kitchen cooking everything from Sauce Picante to Split Pea Soup. We loved to share food with others and for that reason I only know how to make gumbo in a batch that will feed about 20. As a child we would have friends and relatives over often to enjoy good food and fellowship.
- If you don’t already know how to cook, check your local newspaper or agricultural agency for cooking and technique classes. Locally, many of our farmers markets offer free demonstrations. Williams-Sonoma stores regularly offer short demos. Many senior centers have cooking classes for low costs.
- Get out your spices and herbs and get to tasting. Knowing what curry powder, rosemary, and cinnamon actually taste like will help you to know how to use them in recipes.
- Learn from a family member. Older relatives in particular can be experts at taking low cost ingredients and making them taste wonderful. The added bonus is that a little time in the kitchen with a relative will help to make memories for you and your children.
- If you already know how to cook, teach your children. Start young and don’t stop.