I Love the Internet!
Peter and I often ask each other, in tones of disbelief and amazement, 'What did we do before the Internet?' We usually decide that we laid awake nights, trying to place the character actor in a movie or struggling to remember lyrics to songs.
I rely heavily on the Internet for my recipe finding and meal planning. I understand that way back in the day, there were these things called 'cookbooks' that had recipes in them. I also understand that people kept recipe files with hand-written instructions for whipping up their favourite dishes. How primitive.
I swear by such founts of knowledge as Cooking Light and All Recipes. I especially like the search functions in Cooking Light, which can help me find a dairy-free, low-fat, bake-only, Italian side dish in less than twenty seconds. (Not that I've ever had cause to perform that particular search, but it's comforting to know that I could if necessary.)
The problem with Cooking Light is that they often act as though cost were no option and everyone has an ethnic foods specialty market in their vicinity. Irish retailers have come along way since the first time I lived here in 1995 and there was exactly one place to get bagels in all of Dublin, but the options still aren't as diverse as a place like Chicago.
Cost, particularly, has become a giant concern recently. As a four-time loser in the redundancy department, I get a bit edgy any time economic indicators start to take a swim in the toilet. Hearing that unemployment here is nearly at 7% and that the economic forecast is for limited to zero growth for the next year at least tend to result in an automatic stranglehold on my spending habits.
Today, in an effort to find cheap yet nutritious recipes, I stumbled across a site that I'm sure will become another of my go-to sources: the snappily named USDA Food Stamp Nutrition Connection Recipe Finder. This thing offers so many searching options, it boggles the mind (and shows that actual people sat down and thought about what actual users would want and need - which should be the standard MO for web sites, but somehow that important step is often overlooked).
At the top of the page, you can search by ingredient or recipe name. But wait, there's more. At the bottom of the page, you can select a general nutrition category (like high calcium or more fruit and veg), the menu item (like side dish or entree), the audience (like ethnicity or parental status), and the cooking equipment required.
And, here is the best part, you can also place monetary limits on the recipe. Like you want a recipe that is less than $1 per serving or less than $5 for the whole recipe. This is pure, simple genius. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a shopping list to plan.