What’s impressive about Cathy Erway and her new book, The Art of Eating In, is that in a city with fashionable restaurants popping up on every corner (New York), she manages to make staying at home sound much more luxurious.
Her book is structured like a memoir, weaving recipes into her tales of the underground food scene, romantic bouts and general twenty-something living in Brooklyn. What’s more, the recipes are for both the practical and the adventurous.
But you don’t need to purchase her book to take advantage of her savvy. Erway’s blog, Not Eating Out In New York, offers up tons of great recipes which each include a Cost Calculator, a Health Rating, and more recently, a Green Rating. For anyone who shops at local farmers’ markets you know some of the freshest, and cheapest, food can be found away from the big grocery stores and Erway focuses much of her recipes on local ingredients.
In 2006, realizing that she was spending a lot of money each day between eating out for lunch and getting take away for dinner, Erway embarked on a two-year-long mission to cook all of her meals at home. Four years later, her mission has become a way of life, and Cathy frequently includes lessons in community building and sustainability in her posts reminding us that aside from saving money, the art of cooking in and eating well is, at it’s core, the art of contentment.
Check out Cathy’s blog, Not Eating Out In New York.
Welcome to the first installment of Frugal Kitchen, a weekly effort to get interesting recipes out there to people who are on a budget, or just looking for some ways to be creative with what’s already in the pantry. If you have any recipes, I encourage you to share them! — V
There are tons of dishes that are easy to make and are versatile enough that you can rotate out some of the ingredients depending on what’s cheapest. Plus, you can make enough so that you’ll have plenty of leftovers for lunches throughout the week.
One favorite is the classic rice and beans recipe. It’s really very simple, and cheap, and can be expanded upon in many ways. Plus it gives you tons of fiber and protein.
Classic Rice and Beans
2 cups dried beans (garbanzo, kidney or lentils all work well)*
2 cups rice
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
plenty of vegetables of your choosing. some favorites: spinach (frozen or fresh), carrots, celery, squash, onion, tomato, kale.
salt and pepper to taste
optional: grated cheese
* If you’re using dried garbanzos or kidneys, you’ll need to soak your beans overnight. If you’re using lentils you can begin right away, and the same is true with canned beans (but dried are cheaper!). For this recipe, I’ll assume you’re using lentils.
- Set 3 cups of water to boil, add salt, and add rice. Monitor for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding enough water to prevent sticking. When your rice is nearly cooked, add the lentils and leave on low-boil for another 20 minutes.
- When both rice and lentils are tender, strain the remaining water and rinse thoroughly with fresh water to remove any starch. Set aside.
- In the same pan, add your oil and garlic, saute for about 5 minutes
- Add rice and beans back into pan and coat with your sauteed garlic oil. Now, with low heat, add rinsed and chopped vegetables of your choosing to the pan. Certain vegetables will take less time than others (spinach and kale, versus carrots and beets). Cover the pot and let sit on low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls with grated cheese.
And that’s it. Since this recipe can go so many ways, let me know you mixed it up in the comments below!