Friday, August 14, 2009

Burnt Offerings

You're cooking dinner when your child falls, the phone rings, or someone knocks at the door. Distractions happen and meals get scorched. It's frustrating but, most times, unavoidable.

What really rankles, though, is when nothing diverts our attention and still supper becomes burned. For someone as thrifty-minded as me, it's intolerable. Throwing food out is entirely contrary to my notions of economy.

So what's a frugal person to do?

I suggest giving a critical look at the quality of your pots and pans. Cheaper is not always better, nor more economic. For instance, I once bought the cheapest can opener thinking I was saving money. After two years, however, I had bought three of those cheap openers, and about to buy the fourth. Irksome, to say the least. The next opener I bought was about five times the cost of the inexpensive opener and I worried I was spending too much on it. That "expensive" can opener has lasted (dare I say it!) about thirty years. If I'd continued buying the cheaper openers, at the rate they were wearing out and/or breaking, I would have bought approximately twenty of them during that time, and spent four times the money! So, value is often found in the pricier make, and cost can be greater with the cheaper model.

Pots and pans are a good case, in point. When I first moved out on my own, all I could afford was the cheapest aluminum and stainless steel. With those pots and pans, I managed to scorch and burn countless meals. Food stuck. Cleaning was a nightmare of cleansers and scrubber pads. Sometimes, they even required special treatment. (How to Treat Burned Pots and Pans)

Then, about fifteen years ago, my hubby and I received some higher quality pots as a gift. Lo and behold, our meals stopped charring. Could it be I wasn't an abominable cook after all?

Over the next few years, we slowly replaced all our cookware with high quality (mostly 18-10 stainless steel,) pots and pans and, now, the only meal disasters happen when those aforementioned distractions occur. The new pans clean up easily, too; usually with a cloth only.

Now, given my proclivity for avoiding waste, many of those early meals, though scorched, were trimmed and eaten. So, not all the food was wasted. But they weren't enjoyed, either. I also discovered, years too late, that burnt food can be bad for you. (Why Is Burnt (burned) Food Bad For You?)

Now, our meals cook beautifully and are delicious. Best of all, the trash no longer devours burnt offerings. We've saved a good deal of groceries simply by upgrading our cookware. In fact, I would hazard to say the savings are nearing the price we paid for the good quality pots and pans.

So, if your meals are singeing and you're tired of scouring burnt rice from the bottom of the pot, consider buying better quality cookware. Your grocery budget, your health and, most likely, your family will thank you for it.