Frugal Cooking with Charles Mattocks AKA The Poor Chef

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Frugal Cooking with Charles Mattocks AKA The Poor Chef, author of Eat Cheap but Eat Well. plus free sample frugal recipes.
I recently posed some questions to Charles Mattocks, AKA The Poor Chef.  Charles's new book Eat Cheap but Eat Well couldn't have better timing.  With everyone tightening their belts and eating out less often, his creative, satisfying, yet inexpensive recipes provide much needed variety to those trying to eat healthy wholesome foods while staying on a strict budget.

Be sure to see the Related Recipes section below to try out some of Charles's Eat Cheap but Eat Well recipes.

Cheri Sicard: It’s said that necessity if the mother of invention, and I know necessity prompted you to write this book. Can you tell our readers how you came to be “The Poor Chef?”

Charles Mattocks: I think we all have a poor chef in us, but I moved from Los Angles to Florida a few years back and had the chance to raise my son as a single father. Now my son is a very picky eater and I found it a task to be able to feed him not only healthy but affordable meals.  We were walking into a restaurant one day and he said "dad wouldn't it be cool to see real people cooking on TV." 

I thought to myself that it would.  I can recall my mom and my grandma how great cooks they were and I thought about making a TV show or segment that featured real people making meals, and so the poor chef was born, cause we all have a poor chef in us.

Cheri Sicard: What are your favorite frugal ingredients to cook with?

Charles Mattocks: Veggies, you can be so creative with veggies! I have been known to take veggies and use curry or other spices to make some great meals. I also love Spanish seasonings and Asian spices, Of course olive oil and at times feta cheese I love feta. I also use olives and onions a lot.

Cheri Sicard: What’s a common myth about frugal cooking that you want to dispel?

Charles Mattocks:
That people who cook frugally are poor. I think an educated shopper can be very frugal in a good way, they may use coupons and take more time in the grocery store but they save money.  The way the world is now, I think all of us are trying to save a few dollars.

I have had single mothers that are successful business women that raise families share with me their secrets of cooking or shopping.  With planning they bought fresher food because they used a budget, and that they got more for their dollar when taking time to really shop. So being frugal can be a great thing when it comes to eating healthy and saving money.

Cheri Sicard: What kitchen tools or appliances are most valuable for the budget conscious cook?

Charles Mattocks:
An oven!  Baking, be it chicken or bread or any meat or side dish, is a great way to cook food for the week.  You can bake a chicken and use that same chicken for about 3 to 4 meals. I love to bake or roast and would be at a big loss if I didn't have the oven.

Cheri Sicard: What are your most important tips for frugal cooks?

Charles Mattocks:
Don't be scared to try new foods.  Many people stick to what they know, they don't go outside the box.  Feel free to try some different seasonings or spices, or even different meats. I know people who have never tried lamb or Indian food, or who have never ate Thai food.  Those meals come from simple origins and can be made using very simple ingredients, so try new things.

Cheri Sicard: How much money can cooks actually save using your recipes?

Charles Mattocks:
Not only can they save money they can save some pounds (LOL)!  But seriously the book was created as me being a single father, so I had to find ways to make great meals that are cost effective. So I would say you can save a few hundred dollars a year easily.

Cheri Sicard: How can home cooks adopt your frugal cooking philosophy to their own favorite recipes?

Charles Mattocks:
Do it with love and you cant go wrong, have fun be creative and involve the children or the family, that's what its all about.  Food is a great form of expression, it can be used to show love or to regress from emotion. I also encourage portion control, let the meat be the secondary item on the plate.  Eat more fruits and veggies and let the meat, if that's what you like, be the side dish not the center of the meal.