A personal story on learning to cook on a budget

Last week I shared a story about my husband telling my kids about my chef superpower. In case you missed it, he said that I’m magical at making something amazing out of nothing. 

I can look in the fridge and take a half head of cauliflower, onions, beans and potatoes and make a really yummy dish from it.

It’s fun now, but I didn’t always know how to cook like that. (Even after I was a professionally trained chef)

Back when my first son, Lucas was younger, I left the restaurant industry for a reason. 

You see, I worked for a highly respected chef and was on my way to running a hotel restaurant in downtown Manhattan when I had to tell my chef that I was pregnant with Lucas.

After being on maternity leave, I returned to a completely different restaurant. A new kitchen staff, new chef and the loss of any respect I spent years building.

Technically I came back as a part-time sous chef, but according to the rest of the guys in the kitchen, I was a nobody and the hours upon hours of work I killed myself for before getting pregnant -- meant nothing to them.

I found myself back at square one, despite my skill and experience. 

When the restaurant closed the following year, I decided that I was going to stay home with my son, instead of moving to another restaurant with that group.

It was wonderful....for a while.


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After 6 months of one parent not working, our family no longer had enough to get by.

We went on public assistance and received SNAP benefits while I began to build The Connected Chef. Getting another job just didn’t make sense because of the astronomical cost of childcare here in NYC. The Connected Chef was my chance to make a small income and not have to hire a sitter.

I tell this story because it is THE WAY I learned to cook with nothing. Even as a restaurant chef with all the techniques and skills, I was used to having ACCESS to food I wanted. It's easy to cook delicious food when you get to order any ingredient you want.

During this tight time, I needed to stretch every bit of what we had and get creative.

I had no choice.

I also had to stop buying organic foods and get what was in our price range. There’s an awful lot of guilt that comes around KNOWING what healthy foods you should be getting, but having to make a different choice anyway. 

This reality is NOT unique and one of the reasons The Connected Chef fights for food equity for all.

Thankfully, we no longer have to make those choices, but the skills I learned during this time are what allows me to be able to cook with my senses and without a recipe. I had no choice but to try things out and be brave in the kitchen.

From this time, I now have some serious skills in

  • Food shopping
  • Meal prepping on a budget
  • Cooking three different, delicious meals from the same 5 ingredients

...and although, I have more of a weekly budget, I still make sure we stretch our dollar and cook with in this framework.

The MOST exciting part of it all -- Now, I get to teach you how to o t he same.

Whether you have $200 or $50 a week to feed your family... You deserve to eat healthy food!

Join our Support Newsletter

We show you how to getting dinner on the table in less time and with less money.

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