Financial woes today are very real, I am feeling it too, but one thing I do know is that fear solves nothing and usually drives you to make really bad decisions. Instead of fear, (and I do know how much easier said, than done this is) we need to focus on learning and adapting if we are to survive this economy.
This is how my morning started out – I read the New York Times article on how the US Census has not correctly taken into consideration how many of us are only 50% or less above the poverty line, but due to lack of qualifying for relief (less or no unemployment, welfare, food stamps etc.) and growing taxes, health care and work expenses, it means we are not destitute, but considered “the new poor.” This means we are much closer, dangerously close for many, to that poverty line than previously calculated.
Then I received this email from a 3 month premium membership gift certificate give-away winner:
“I am so sorry. At the time of the sign-up for the giveaway, I was unaware what the future would hold for us. I don’t anticipate being able to maximize the membership due to budget constraints. I feel that it is the right thing to do to ask if you might draw again, if it is not too much trouble as I don’t want this really wonderful opportunity to go to waste.”
One month, three month, and one year gift certificates available to fit every budget
This is a very human, but fear driven reaction to something that has caused her financial situation to change for the worse. The decision she made to offer the premium membership back for re-drawing is not well thought through, or an informed one. She doesn’t realize the true value of what she is forfeiting.
For her, the premium membership would have been free, so what did she have to lose? Everyone has to eat. Making how you eat more efficient helps! That is exactly what the Personal Chef Approach™ (or PCA™) is all about. The deliberately low fee gives you the tools to better deal with increasingly limited disposable income. The premium membership not only pays for itself, but SAVES you money if used correctly. I’ve even been working on plans to start a scholarship for people in need, because it can offer such relief to the “new poor”!
For less than $2.50 a week, you get the blueprint to do all this, along with the support in the forum to help you when you get stuck. You can save yourself 8-10 hours every week plus money! How you might ask?
a). You save a ton of time that can be spent finding a new or better source of income.
b). You no longer buy groceries haphazardly, many of which go to waste, because you have an organized grocery list and plan of action for that food in hand. Once you have finished your cook day, you freeze what will not be eaten in the first few days. NO food goes to waste this way.
c). Almost every weekly menu plan entree can be substituted with a less expensive cut of meat or seafood. You can even adapt them to a vegetarian diet which typically costs much less to maintain. You can utilize our supportive community in the cyber living room for advice on how to do this or ask your local grocery store butcher which substitutions will work best with the recipe. The same goes for side dishes – buy frozen vegetables instead of fresh, or if you must, canned goods.
d). With the PCA at your fingertips – you can better take advantage of grocery store sales. Plan your menu around the sale flyer that comes out weekly for the store – see what is on sale, then choose recipes that use those ingredients. Batch cook them as well – double the recipe and freeze the extra meals for a later date.
e). Many of my recipes call for a lot of ingredients. Most of you will already have them stocked in your pantry or firidge if you have been doing this for a while (so they do get used over and over), but if not you can economize here too. Buy dried herbs in place of fresh (unless you grow your own). You can omit what you do not have too – the recipe will just have a little less depth of flavor, but should still work and be delicious.
f). You no longer resort to “cheap” take-aways and fast food that really add up, often without realizing it. Not only that, but if money is tight, the last thing you can afford is bad health. Eating healthier is important for everyone, but crucial to those who can not afford health care or are in the “new poor”, because all it will take is one big hospital or doctors bill to send you plummeting below that poverty line.
So what is stopping your from joining? Now is definitely not the time to let fear cloud our thinking. Everyone has to eat, doesn’t it make sense to do so as efficiently as possible? Here is an example of a highly requested recipe of mine (by meat eaters as well as vegetarians), that costs very little to make. Most of the ingredients are usually in your pantry already, and the kind of things to stock up on when on sale.
Baked Eggplant Parmesan
You will never miss the eggplant being pan fried with this crunchy panko crust, and you’re saving yourself quite a few calories as well as being healthier for you. I enjoy this recipe so much that I have it at least once a month!
1 large eggplant
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon milk
olive oil spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons of dry red wine, optional
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a sheet pan with olive oil spray
2). Mix bread crumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan, garlic powder, basil, oregano, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Mix eggs and milk in a small bowl.
3). Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices across. Dip each slice into egg mixture, then bread crumb mixture to coat evenly all over. Place on sprayed pan, and repeat until all pieces are coated, and placed in a single layer on the pan (you might need to use two pans). Spray top side of eggplant with olive oil spray and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, turning once.
4). While eggplant is baking, heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, then minced garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and wine, simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in fresh herbs. Season to taste.
5). Spray a casserole dish with olive oil spray, then add one layer of eggplant, 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1 cup of mozzarella sprinkled on top, and spoon half of the sauce over. Then repeat with a second layer of eggplant, pour the rest of the sauce over, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and mozzarella.
6). May be cooled, covered, and refrigerated or frozen at this point. When ready to eat, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake casserole for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly, and cheese begins to brown.
Serve with spaghetti (or low carb option of spaghetti squash), and a green vegetable of your choice.
PS. If you are lucky enough to have some disposable income, and need to buy gifts for the holidays anyway – please consider helping those less fortunate than you by either purchasing a gift certificate we can donate to a family in need, or the beautiful Jodi’s Jewel for Jewels with 100% of the proceeds going to aide the children in drought-stricken East Africa.