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Have a shopping story to tell? Let us know! Email us

The value of cooking at home isn’t all about money

Eliza Mills Jun 2, 2017
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Beer-steamed mussels with chorizo.
Photo by Chelsea Kyle, food styling by Joanna Keohane

The home-cooked meal has some stiff competition. Think of any dish you want to eat right now, and there’s an app (Postmates, Caviar, Grubhub, DoorDash, the list goes on) that will deliver to your door, office or anywhere else you happen to be, at any time, day or night.

Add to that America’s love of eating out. Back in 2015, data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed spending in restaurants surpassed grocery sales for the first time since record keeping began. And the trend continues, according to statistics released in May. Even people cooking at home may not be shopping for themselves. The market for meal kits has expanded, and services like HelloFresh, Plated and Blue Apron are growing. 

So, Marketplace Weekend wanted to dig into the economics of cooking at home. What do you save when you shop and cook for yourself? Is it really as hard as everyone makes it out to be?

David Tamarkin, editor of Epicurious, says no. He made 90 meals in the month of May as part of his yearly #cook90 challenge. He said in his three years living in New York City, he’s never ordered delivery. Tamarkin invited us over to cook at his home in Brooklyn, where a $25 grocery budget fed four people a delicious dinner of mussels and chorizo in beer broth with a fresh salad and bread. Plus beer to wash it all down.  

Last week, we asked you to send us your best home-cooked recipes, and we got some great stuff. 

Valerie and Julia Pascoe sent in their recipe for Carolina Chicken Chili. Julia, a fifth grader, loves to cook with her mom. This recipe is her riff on an old recipe of her grandmothers’. Two years ago, Julia submitted her recipe to the Greenville, South Carolina, public school system, and now it’s on the permanent menu for the district. Once a month, 73,000 kids dig into Carolina Chicken Chili, and you can too.

Check out Julia’s recipe below:

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
four 15.2 ounce cans white kidney beans, drained
2 yellow onions, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
one 4.5 ounce can chopped green chilies
1 can reduced-sodium whole-kernel corn
two 32 ounce packages of reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons regular red chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Garnish:

whole-wheat chips
low fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
chopped avocado
chopped tomato
chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation:

Place chopped onion in large (8 quart) pot with the olive oil and saute on medium-high heat until soft and almost clear (about 10 minutes; stir and don’t let the edges burn).
Add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes more.
Add three cans of the beans, drained (save one can for later)
Add both containers of broth, corn, cumin, chili power, paprika, salt and pepper.
Add the chicken.
Put in half of the can of chilies if you want it mild, all of the can if you like it a little spicy.
Cook on medium-high and stir.
While the chili is cooking, mash up the remaining can of drained white kidney beans in a bowl with a fork. Mash it up good!
Add bean mash to the chili and stir.
Cook on medium low and stir gently (cook on low for about 15 minutes).
Sprinkle the flour and stir it in to thicken.
Simmer until ready to serve. Garnish with chopped tomatoes, fresh cilantro, chopped avocado, and low-fat cheese. Serve with a side of fresh fruit.

Bon appétit!

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