Erin Chase doesn't see a need to throw away money on dinner. She's not against food, mind you. She just believes in budgeting wisely and shopping even smarter when it's time to set food on the table each evening.
Her thrifty ways led to a successful blog, $5 Dinners
, as well as two cookbooks that spread the news of how to eat well but not too expensively. She's bringing that message to San Antonio on March 30 for a workshop that's been scheduled for the Alamo Heights United Methodist Church, 825 E. Basse Road.
The workshop will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and costs just $5 plus a canned good to attend, with both going to the San Antonio Food Bank.
The visit is a homecoming for Chase, who grew up in San Antonio and has plans to move here again in the near future.
Right now, she lives in Dayton, Ohio, where she has gained fame for her frugal approach to food, whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner. Her approach is based on three key ingredients to:
- Shopping strategies
- Couponing strategies
- Meal planning
It's best to have a game plan, she stresses. That way you won't buy ingredients that you don't need or know what to do with, thereby saving both money and time, which is also a valuable commodity.
Shop at more than supermarkets for bargains, Erin Chase suggests.
Her workshop is titled Savings Nation and is hosted by Savings.com. To register for the class, click here.
Chase likes to stress the importance of making things from scratch, which can also translate into saved money because it generally costs less to make your own than it does to buy processed foods. Foods you make yourself are also considered to be largely healthier because there are fewer preservatives.
Shopping starts at home these days. That's because all supermarkets have their weekly sales circulars online now, making it easier to see what's on sale before turning the ignition key, a move that saves on gas money as well as the dinner budget.
But Chase doesn't stop only at supermarkets. She walks to a nearby farmers market. She praises those who can go in on a side of beef or take part in community farm cooperatives, in which locally grown seasonal items are made available at their freshest.
Sometimes, farmers offer foods that aren't altogether familiar, whether it's a bunch of leeks or kale leaves. those who love to cook gratefully accept the challenge and joy of working with something new. But it can also bring out picky eaters.
How does a mother address that?
Eat well for $5 a dinner. Chase can help you do that.
First, you must recognize that there's a difference between picky eaters and those unable to eat certain foods, Chase says. Dealing with allergies and food sensitivities are real problems that many face, so people have to learn how to discover if foods have exposure to, say, peanuts or gluten.
But encouraging people to try new foods is actively practiced in her home, where the one-bite rule is in effect. "They can't tell you they don't like it if they haven't tried it," she says. "You have to try the food."
Dealing with this as early as possible is the best solution, even if a child is only 2 years old. "You just have to power through it," she says, suggesting that she has more than a few years of experience in that eating arena.
Picky husbands can sometimes be worse than picky children. "Husbands should be appreciative of the work that goes into preparing a meal," Chase says. It's one thing to dislike liver and onions; it's quite another to turn a cold shoulder to enchiladas when a wife has prepared a tray for a get-together.
And if he persists in voicing objections, "then he can make his own," she says.
Chase's focus is on more than saving money. She also wants people in her class to meet others interested in saving, a move that could lead to even more shared information.
"I have two things I want to do," she says. "I want to educate and to help people connect in the community."