Last week I spent $200 on food. I was traveling in Washington D.C., and the money was spent on two meals, just for me. The meals were great, but shelling out that kind of money, when I am committed to reducing the amount I spend, was a little shocking. It gave me a real sense of gratitude for the $130 I spent the week before for a week’s worth of groceries for my family of four.

In these interesting economic times, everybody is looking at ways to save money, and with rising health care costs we are also looking at ways to stay healthy. The answer seems to be in forgoing restaurants—both the big ticket and the fast food kinds, to spend more time in the kitchen and in the garden. Read more

Every possible malady has a name and a pill. Your kids can’t focus, they now have Attention Deficit Disorder. Your leg moves while you sleep so you get a diagnosis of restless leg syndrome. I just found out that I have Eco Anxiety. I heard an editor from a magazine say that one of his writers covers so many doom and gloom environmental stories that he went screaming from an assignment and took to bed. It hit home for me. I read and write so many scary health and environment stories that I give myself the shakes. Read more

It’s nesting time again. This time of year I go into Martha Stewart mode. New bedspreads, getting things repaired around the house, culling cookbooks. This year I tried something else as a part of the nesting. I threw out all my spices and bought new ones. This came after someone told me that spices and herbs only keep their flavor for a year. After that, it is the equivalent to adding sawdust to your food. Read more

Have you been to the grocery store lately? Of course you have. Have you gone into shock at the prices yet? Of course you have. Even if you are like me and don’t spend a lot of time figuring out prices and food budgets, you have been caught off guard. It’s not just the price of that great filet, or wild salmon that has your head spinning. In fact, we expect those things to be higher. I pay just about $10 a pound for my favorite pastrami, and am happy to do it. But it is the staples that have me on pause. Read more

I had an interesting “discussion” with an editor who had requested an essay with a recipe from me for one of their holiday issues. The magazine wanted me to focus on one of my family’s favorite holiday dishes—something that had a real significance for me. I sent my top dish list over—candied yams, macaroni and cheese, homemade potato salad and fried corn. I would have added corn bread dressing, but I just can’t make it like my grandmother did. Read more