Strategic Eating

The Econovore's Essential Guide

by Elise Cooke


Book Details

Trim the fat from your food . . . budget.

Think there isn't much you could save on what you eat? Think again! In Strategic Eating, The Econovore's Essential Guide, you'll learn dozens of easy techniques for acquiring and preparing nutritious meals that could cut your costs by literally hundreds of dollars each and every month. Besides saving money, you'll save time, energy, gasoline and effort, too.

Strategic Eating focuses on both sides of the equation for achieving a rock-bottom, nutritious food bill. Acquiring the food is the first consideration, and this guide spells out tips and techniques for getting your food cheaply, or even for free. It's not enough to obtain food for the lowest possible prices, though. You also need to plan meals so that no time, effort, energy or food are wasted. Strategic Eating gives its readers dozens of highly-flexible recipes, "flexipes," that use whatever you have to make delicious entrees. With so many choices, you won't be bored with what you eat, and the preparation usually takes less time and effort than picking up a take-out order.

While serious in its goal to share how small changes can make such a huge difference, all work and no play makes a dull book. Strategic Eating is chock-full of humorous asides and anecdotes that entertain even as they inform. There's something for everyone here and it's a fun read.

Fatten your wallet. Eat healthfully. Help the environment. And laugh while you're doing it. Read Strategic Eating, then keep it close for frequent reference!


Book Excerpt

(From Chapter Nineteen, Top Ten Uses for Dead Bread)

When I make a two-loaf batch of my bread, I can usually count on the family wolfing down the first loaf within a couple of hours. Breakfast or lunch the next day takes up most of the rest, but there’s always that last quarter of a loaf that by Day Three closely resembles a loofah sponge. So here’s a new challenge: What to Do with Old Bread.

Naturally, when a gauntlet like that is thrown, we can’t just give up and feed the old loaf to the birds. Below are some of my personal favorite ways to avoid wasting the Staff of Life.

10. Bread crumbs. Simply take dried-out bread of any type, break it into pieces into the blender, cover the top and turn it on until the crumbs are of the desired consistency. Use to top casseroles, bread fish and chicken, in meatloaf; you can even make cookies out of them! Search for “bread crumb cookie recipe” on the Internet; you’ll find dozens of variations. So long as they’re kept dry in a sealed container, bread crumbs will also store at room temperature for a couple of weeks. They’ll keep in the freezer indefinitely.

9. Bread cubes. This works best with French, sourdough or rye breads. Cut the bread into cubes. Dry the cubes by tossing them into a still-warm oven after baking, stirring once in a while. These are good for poultry stuffing and croutons. Bread cubes have the same storage requirements as bread crumbs.

8. Croutons. Take your bread cubes and drizzle them with a little oil, then sprinkle lightly with salt, and spices like dried oregano and sage. Bake for about ten minutes at 300F (149C), or put them in for about twenty minutes just as you’ve turned off the oven from making bread. These taste wonderful in soups and salads. Don’t store them at room temperature for more than a week because of the oil in them, which could go rancid.

7. French Toast. Beat eggs and add milk up to half the volume of the eggs. Add some cinnamon sugar and mix well. Slice your old bread, and soak the slices in the egg mixture. Fry these on a lightly-greased medium-high griddle like pancakes, turning once until golden brown on both sides. Serve hot with pancake syrup, butter or jam. French Toast also freezes well.

6. Welsh Rarebit. Take an old, dried-out slice of bread. Pour a cheesy white sauce over it. Yell, “Dinner!” and serve.

5. Science Experiments. Let a piece of bread get really, really moldy. The yellow juice that you can squeeze out of the blue-green mold is unrefined penicillium chrysogenum, better known as, simply, penicillin. No, I wouldn’t actually try to use it, but this is your science lesson for today. Besides, I can’t think of any other possible use for old bread, other than your compost pile, once mold enters the picture. It’s even bad for the birds at that point.

4. Charlotte.Alternate buttered stale, thinly-sliced bread or crumbs with sweetened, cooked fruit (like for a cobbler). Top with the bread, sprinkle with sugar, and bake at 375F (191C) for about half an hour. This makes a cobbler-like dessert.

3. Desiccant. Thoroughly dry a hunk or slice of bread, then store it with your brown sugar. It will wick up the moisture in the air and keep the sugar from clumping. Replace as needed.

2. Oven Cheese Fondue. To serve five: Beat five eggs well. Add a teaspoon of salt, a dash of pepper and 2 to 3 cups of grated cheese, and mix. Now add 2 1/2 cups of hot milk with 4 cups cubed bread. Pour it all into a greased 7 X 11 inch baking pan, and bake at 325F (163C) for half an hour until set. This recipe comes from the “More-with-Less Cookbook,” by Doris Janzen Longacre. This is a terrific compendium of recipes mostly made from basic staples that I almost always have around the house, and the meals turn out great. I think it’s out of print, but used copies are still floating around the Webosphere.

And the Number One use for dead bread is…

1. Bruschetta! This works with any bread, but I think sourdough tastes best: Brush an old, dried-up, thin slice of bread with oil, tomato paste or pesto. Top with cheese, basil, onions, peppers, pepperoni or any other way you’d fix a pizza, then broil for a couple of minutes to melt it all together. Serve. Yum!

None of us like to admit it, but we’ve all had those moments of crushing disappointment when we open the bread box and find nothing but fresh, soft, moist bread. Buck up, promise yourself you’ll plan better next time, close the box and wait. Your patience will be rewarded in a day or two with wonderful dried-out, hard, stale foundations for many delicious meal options.


About the Author

Elise Cooke

Elise Cooke started researching money-saving topics in earnest when she left her clean, well-compensated professional career as a software engineer to pursue the more rewarding but decidedly under-funded long hours of motherhood. What began as an individual pursuit borne of necessity has evolved into an engrossing hobby with over a decade of accumulated knowledge, and lots of friends. Her next book, The Grocery Garden, How Busy People Can Grow Cheap Food, is coming soon. Visit her website at

Also by Elise Cooke

The Grocery Garden
The Miserly Mind