March 24, 2009

How to Eat Recession-Fabulous

Down here in Arkansas we've been biting the bullet for a few years, so this recession is old news to most of us. "AIG" is how most of us pronounce "egg," and no one around here knows anyone who brings home a bonus worth mentioning. There used to be free turkeys at Christmas, but no one has seen those since the late 90s.

When the hiring and salary freezes started about two years ago, most folks around here did what they always do when times get lean: they planted bigger gardens. In addition, they pulled out all the old iron skillets and started eating in. No one knows how to feed a family of five on a couple of dollars quite like a Southern woman, even in these perilous grocery-bill times.

Shop Fabulous

1) If you're unfamiliar with the local day-old bread store, introduce yourself.

2) Hit the sales at local grocery stores, use the coupons, and get over your love affair with that saucy brie you usually buy. You won't miss it. Much. Instead, buy block cheese and hope for the best.

3) Grow your own. A couple of tomato plants can be a thing of joy forever. Be careful when planning your crops, though, and always check with your friends. Only one of you should be growing yellow squash. A single plant produces enough for a small city. Grow yard-long beans instead - these grow up in flowering vines and are lovely as well as crazy-delicious.

4) If gardening's out of the question, get up early on Saturday morning and hit your local farmer's market. The produce is in season, delicious, inexpensive, and you'll add a couple of stars to your heavenly crown for helping out local growers.

Cook Fabulous

Do you have any idea how much you spend eating out? It's crazy. Eat out less, cook more. Make Beans and Cornbread with a Side of Greens - All you really need are some pinto beans, some navy beans, an onion, and a ham hock. Greens come out of a garden - either yours or someone else's because we share - and the whole thing is finished up with scratch cornbread made in an iron skillet. Sure, it takes some time. This isn't fast food, it's cheap food. Make this at least once a week and keep the leftovers handy. They get better every day.

If carb-heavy, pigfat-laden Southern food isn't your thing, make a big pot of chili or soup once a week. If you freeze some in little containers, there's your portable work lunch.

What about those kids who all want something different at the same meal and fail to see the fabulousness? Well, Mama's not the drive-thru window. This is dinner. Eat it. Quit your whining. There are children starving in Mississippi who'd be glad to have that food.

Serve Fabulous

Eating in front of the television? In the car? Standing up over the sink? Most women I know are appalled by such dining behavior, but these gals still wear pearls all day long and never leave the house without lipstick. It doesn't matter if dinner is a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, serve it on a real plate. At a table. And sit down.

There's no need to go all Martha Stewart in times like these, so don't spend six hours tying ribbons to hand-printed place cards or anything. Just use candles now and then and turn off the damn TV. In addition to saving a bit on the light bill, it's delightful. Talk to each other. That's delightful, too.

How is all this "fabulous"? It's easy. Just make it trendy to be broke. I don't mean make it a fad like pretending to be a hippie by wearing Abercrombie and Fitch hoodies and torn up hundred-dollar tennis shoes, I'm talking about recreating "making do" so it's cool again. Those "Go Green" folks did it, and so can you.

(This was originally posted on on my Other Blog. I have Kathi to thank for all the fun I've had putting this together. Thanks, gal!)


  1. you can cut your grocery bill with free grocery printable coupons at

  2. Oh I just love this post! Glad I found you, don't know how, but I'm still glad!

  3. Love it! And now i'm craving some beans and cornbread!

  4. Ah, beans and cornbread. That sounds like a plan.


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