By Lisa M. Gerry
NEW YORK (Learnvest) — “My money savvy comes from being raised in a family without money,” says Melissa D’Arabian, author of the best-selling cookbook Ten Dollar Dinners, which came out this August, and host of the Food Network show by the same name.
“My mom was a single parent putting herself through college and eventually medical school. We didn’t have money, so we worked around it, and I think that [mindset] just stayed in my blood.”
Five years ago, D’Arabian decided to quit her job in finance to become a stay-at-home mom. She’d just had twins, in addition to two other toddlers (now 6 and 7). During her first few years as a stay-at-home mom, her frugality came in handy. In fact, a YouTube video of her showing how to make homemade yogurt in her Texas garage (something she says saved her more than $150 a month) caught the attention of the Food Network. In 2009, she went on to compete in, and win, the fifth season of Food Network Star.
“I’m not against spending money,” says D’Arabian, who admits to loving manicures and professional waxing. “I am against spending money mindlessly. [My message] is about not letting the fact that we’re imperfect give us permission to stop trying.”
D’Arabian’s new cookbook is chock-full of recipes and money-saving tips. “It’s meant to help [readers] lower their shopping bills overall and become thoughtful, responsible consumers,” she says. “It’s about celebrating food, respecting our resources and feeling good about the food we’re putting into our bodies.”
D’Arabian shares some of her most helpful, thrifty tips:
1. Keep flavor enhancers in the freezer.
Bacon, fresh ginger, nuts, grated cheese and even leftover wine (for cooking) keep exponentially longer in the freezer than in the fridge. In her book, D’Arabian suggests storing these in resealable freezer bags (or, for wine, in ice cube trays) so you can easily add just enough to brighten, deepen or add a textural component to a recipe.