Monday, January 24, 2011

5 Questions with Jennifer Maughan, author of "100 Meals for $5 or Less"


Have you tried every meal in the book?
The best part about writing this book was gathering recipes and ideas from family and friends about their favorite budget meals. I knew I couldn't stand beside any recipe that I hadn't tried myself, so I gladly gathered recipes that fit the criteria for the book and made them for my family over the course of a year. The big hits found a place in the book, but there are so many delicious budget recipes out there that once readers know what to look for in a meal recipe, they can add to their own personal budget meal favorites.

Which meal was the most fun to make?
My three children love to help in the kitchen, so to me, the most fun meals to make are the ones where they can contribute significantly. One of our favorites from the book, Chicken Rolls (p. 85), requires you to slice the tops off of round dinner rolls, pull out the roll innards to make little bowls, fill the roll with a creamy chicken and veggie mixture, sprinkle them with cheese, then bake.

Another personal favorite from the book is Cyndi's Curried Coconut Chicken (p. 132). This is my sister Cyndi's signature dish and it's simple and delicious. I love how this dish smells as it is cooking. Using ingredients like coconut milk, stewed tomatoes and curry powder, this recipe transforms chicken into an exotic, filling meal for pennies.

What's the best compliment you've received on your work?
While I love getting compliments about a particular recipe in the book, the most satisfying compliments to me are from readers who really internalize the budget meal methods. The first part of the book teaches readers about how to plan budget menus, smart shopping techniques and being efficient in the kitchen. One reader emailed me that because of the book, she was not only seeing serious reductions in her grocery bill, but serious reductions in stress with herself and her family concerning shopping and meals.

What chef inspires you most?
What's inspiring to me is when regular men and women create good memories in the kitchen for their families. Look at the kitchens of a single person entertaining friends, a young couple with little children, or the parents who end up feeding a few extra teenagers -- it's the simple, hearty, healthful meals that make a connection that families and friend share.

What's next for you?
I haven't stopped searching for budget recipes even though the book is completed. It's too much fun to challenge myself to not only prepare healthy and delicious meals, but to save money to spend elsewhere.

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