I used to have a large collection of cookbooks, not that I saw it as excessive, but it was still a good-sized collection. When I began to clear out all my clutter I held off going through my cookbooks. I mean we’re talking about food here. Today I have two cookbooks left. I had never sat down and thought about the costs associated with my cookbooks in dollar amounts.
Buying the cookbooks wasn’t the expensive part of the equation, using the recipes were. I tend to keep foods on hand that I eat regularly, to use a recipe from one of my cookbooks calls for ingredients I don’t normally have on hand. To buy the spices and extra ingredients pushes the grocery bill higher than what I want to spend.
I held on to my cookbooks thinking I would use them only on special occasions, but rarely did I use any of them because the timing was bad. Christmas is a good example. It is the one time of the year that I spend money on gifts for the grand-kids and want to keep the spending in the lower digits, but if I then choose a meal plan which centered around recipes from my cookbooks, the cost of the holiday becomes too high.
Here’s how I found a balance
- There are only so many foods which I, or my family, enjoy. I plan around these foods
- When looking at the recipes which I was drawn to I found many used the same spices, so I purchased two of these spices and saved a couple of recipes which were simple.
- My sons love Swedish Meatballs, so when I make this I use simple and inexpensive side dishes to compliment it.
- After going through the various recipes, if I found only one which used something I wouldn’t have on hand, I modified the recipe to use what I did have on hand, or simply passed on the dish altogether and settled for something else.
- I love soup, but have never used a recipe to make one. I keep a couple of containers of broth on hand and add to it whatever is on hand, especially any leftovers. Some onion, garlic or even a dash of tamari sauce will season it nicely, no need for expensive ingredients.
Food doesn’t have to be hard or complicated to make to taste good. A simple meal is just as satisfying and in most cases (from looking at many of my cookbooks) better for me as well.
How do you plan your meals? Do you cook from recipes you have collected or from what you have on hand?