Chili and Cornbread and Tight Belts

For a dollar, you can get a small fast-food cheeseburger, or a real meal, hot and fresh from your own kitchen. I know what I’d choose.

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From time to time, I mention that money is tight in my household. I don’t do this to bang the pity drum; far from it. I do it, at least in part, to let you in on the wonderful news that it’s possible to feed your family real, home-cooked meals on a tight budget. I’d even say you can get better food if you cook it yourself than it’s possible to get for the same money anywhere, even off the dollar menu.

When I was at BlogHer Food, one woman especially stood out to me as a beacon of good food on a budget: Diana of Dianasaur Dishes. Once, she lived on the dollar menu at Jack-in-the-Box. Then a friend gave her a bag of groceries, and she realized she could make REAL food for less than she’d been paying for junky fast food. And her life was changed.

Chili and cornbread

I really do believe lives change when we shift to real, home-cooked food when we can, and I am dedicated to expanding the “when we can” moments by helping to show how easy and inexpensive it can be.

From 1983 to 2003, I was a vegetarian, and I was often amused at people who said it was so expensive to eat vegetarian foods. Maybe if you stick with processed junk that’s true, but there’s very little that’s cheaper than beans, for instance, and a dollar can go a long way when you’re cooking with vegetables in season, beans, and whole grains.

Here’s one of my family’s favorite meals, and they don’t care at all that it’s vegetarian, even though they prefer to eat meat. The chili is Susan V’s version of Red, Gold, Black and Green chili from Moosewood, and the cornbread is Arkansas cornbread from a friend on rec.food.cooking. Maybe a dollar a serving, if that, for the whole meal, and utterly delicious.

chili and cornbread

All of which is kind of the long way around to saying you’ll be seeing more budget meals around here, and fewer big roasts, for a while, but we’ll still be eating well, and not off the dollar menu.

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Author: Serene

I run The Mom Food Project, which was born out of love for my mom and a desire to preserve the recipes of my childhood, which didn't actually exist in written form until I quizzed my mom and wrote the recipes down.

2 thoughts on “Chili and Cornbread and Tight Belts”

  1. Yum!! That’s what I had for dinner last night! Except mine was pumpkin turkey chili, and I cheated with the Trader joe’s cornbread mix + green chiles. I like that corn in the chili touch!

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