TV Shows Search for Cheap Eats

Food Network photo

Ten Dollar Dinners-Food Network photo

Today, while eating lunch (incidentally, a version of the Shanghai-ish Noodles from Cheap Eats I talked about not long ago), Mr. Pea and I watched Ten Dollar Dinners on the Food Network.  It comes on right after scary Sandra Lee’s new show, Sandra’s Money-Saving Meals.  (We find Lee’s show hilarious, as her previous show, Semi-Homemade, features her cooking with as many convenience foods as she can find and laying out elaborate ‘tablescapes’–neither of which are cost-effective.)  Both shows clearly have the same focus:  feeding a family of four inexpensively.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why these shows have appeared in the last few months.  Every day we’re beaten over the heads with economic news (usually bad or less bad than it usually is) and, at the very least, being aware of where your money goes is suddenly more popular than it used to be.

What’s interesting about these shows (and you can interpret ‘interesting’ however you want), as Mr. Pea pointed out, is that they prorate ingredients to make their dinners.  This makes sense, so long as you have a pantry.  We had a chuckle imagining our neighbors, who eat mainly frozen meals and take-out, following one of these recipes to find out it’s at least a $20 meal for them.  Spices, oils, condiments, the items I take for granted as part of the pantry, surely have initial costs.

The other thing I find interesting is that $10 bar.  Man, if I spent $10 on every meal in our house (even if we had two more members), excepting breakfast, we’d be chubbier and broker, and likely eating a lot more meat.   I think they should create a new show, with a catchy title like “Cooking as cheaply as possible but without using nasty ingredients.”  I know that’s something you’d watch.  Or maybe, “I can do better than ten dollars for dinner.”  Sort of like in Wayne’s World, when Wayne runs into the guy who is working on a video called Six Minute Abs, to one-up the then-popular Seven Minute Abs tapes.  Ha!  My $9 Dinners will creep up on $10 Dinners’ Melissa d’Arabian’s ground…

For the record, our lunch–linguine (1/3 box), homemade peanut sauce, garden cucumber (counting it as free, since we picked it and paid for the seeds, etc., long ago), half-block of tofu, carrot, handful of frozen corn, clocked in at about $2.50 for both of us, and I’m still full a couple hours later.

Also for the record, I’m not knocking Ten Dollar Dinners or the new Sandra Lee show.  I’m definitely knocking the tablescapes.  Yikes.  It’s like we all should have an antique store in our basements.  Maybe it’s the daily cocktails Lee assembles slowly getting to her…


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