Cooking at Home Is the New Chic

May 1, 2009

Today's Savvy Guest is Gina von Esmarch.  Gina was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a fourth generation San Franciscian, whose family has successfully run one of the City's oldest fine dining restaurants at Fisherman's Wharf -- Alioto's #8, founded in 1925.  Gina is also a mom whose new cookbook, Taste This!, has quickly become one of my favorite go-to guides for meal planning in our home.  (Click here to read my review!) Today Gina is here to share why cooking at home is the new chic during these difficult economic times.

There is nothing like a good recession to bring out the fighting cook in the American home kitchen. This is not to imply that our economic situation (AKA recession) is by any means, "good" but as Americans we are told time and time again that we L-O-V-E a big challenge, ergo - a good recession = a big recession = a big challenge.

The simple economics of it all are that people seem to be trying to find ways to cut back on their food budgets during these times. As people embrace the challenge of the recession, dining at home is once again chic. It was even rumored in a women's magazine that the recession might help us lose weight because we would categorically spend less money on expensively packaged processed junk foods like cookies, chips and cakes. While I don't know that I can throw my flag down and say that agree 100%, I can tell you that I agree that if people prepare more foods from home there will be a healthy upside - perhaps even stealth health benefits (def: stealth health is the term for people who want to eat healthy but don't want to be reminded of it). I am a believer that the population that cooks more, consumes less calories, intakes less salt and may turn this prediction into reality.

So how do we get the most out of our limited available time to maximize our effort and food dollars to recover from this economic hangover? I do have a few recipes up my sleeve that may help get your fight and/or creative juices flowing in the spirit of the Credit Crunch Healthy - Economic Hangover thread.

Let's take chicken as an example. With either home roasted or store purchased roasted (could even be boiled) chicken, you can make numerous recipes that make eating at home both fun and delicious without taking a lot of time. No one I know wants to eat the same leftovers again the next night so I would suggest that if that is your plan that you skip a night between when you eat your leftovers the first time and when you repeat them. I've known many self proclaimed "I don't DO leftover types," and well I can be honest and tell you that I have tricked many of them into eating leftovers, because like all things American, we like presentation and packaging. Here are a few recipe ideas from Taste This! that can be incorporated to make chicken dishes that don't feel like repeats -

• Pulled Chickey (can be turkey or chicken) Tacos

• Greek Chicken Salad

• Divine Chicken Curry

These are three totally different dishes, all of which could be made with shredded chicken but one dish is tacos, the next a salad and the third a casserole. With planning you could buy all of the ingredients at once and keep it on hand and depending on how much company you have over or how many people you are serving, you could make two or three of these dishes to keep on hand. If you DO like leftovers, make all three!

I like to plan my meals for the week by allowing myself a few nights to take it easy and visit with my family so I will often do a meal plan that allows me to cook two nights in a row and then take the next two nights off. Perhaps I can share that strategy with you next time. Until then, remember to keep it fresh and save those dollars for that special night out or an upcoming celebration. Stay-cations are all the rage why not coin Eat-overs (inviting guests to dinner) as the next stage of our Phrase-O-Lution.

Gina now lives North of the Golden Gate Bridge with her husband, two children and dog. To get a copy of her book, Taste This!, go to

Leticia is the Washington DC City Editor for The Savvy Source. You can read more of her work every day at Being Savvy Washington DC.  

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