Chef Dez.

Chef Dez: Expand culinary knowledge within budget

Easy way to grow by 12 items.

Everyone seems like they’re searching for ways to tighten their purse strings, especially at this time of the year when the Christmas credit card bills are rolling in.

There are ways, however, to expand your knowledge in the culinary world without affecting your grocery budget. Let’s face it, we all need to eat food to stay alive, and adding some variety to our home meals is a way to make eating in more exciting.

How many times has the normal trip to the grocery store resulted in bringing home the same old products that you always buy, for your never changing home menu?

Here’s what I challenge you to do: every week, two weeks, or month, I want you to buy just one product you would never normally buy. This could be a produce item, a spice, an herb, or something down the imported food aisle.

Take your blinders off, step outside your habitual boundaries, and be receptive to all the wonderful products we have available at our fingertips. No matter where you live, shopping today has a greater abundance of selection than ever before.

The other great resource we have access to, whether it’s at home, work or the local libraries, is the Internet. This will allow you to answer questions about the certain product that you have purchased that you may know nothing about. What do I do with it? How do I prepare it? How is it normally served? How is it best stored?

You and your family are going to be eating food anyway, and chances are you will continue to do so the rest of your life. What harm will it be then to spend, for example, two or three dollars per month on one product you normally wouldn’t purchase?

Continue this for a year, while researching and educating yourself on each product and you will have expanded your culinary knowledge by 12 items. This will add variety to your home menu forever and at the same time build your culinary knowledge.

Many cities also have gourmet food stores. Make it a habit to talk to these people, tap into their expertise, and make your monthly one-product purchase there instead of, or alternating with, your regular grocery store.

If you have even more room in your monthly budget, take a cooking class once per month instead of dining out. I know my restaurant friends will dislike me saying so, but the return on your investment in a cooking class is far greater than just a full stomach from one dining out visit.

Chef Dez is a chef, writer and host. Visit him at

chefdez.com.

Just Posted

Maple Ridge pair win HM in FBCW Literary Writes contest

Theme of the contest this year was Who is ‘The Other’

Funeral for Maple Ridge senior killed while walking snow-covered roadway to be held April 13

Jimmy Gonczol was killed walking in a vehicle lane of 228th Street on Feb. 12 following the worst snowfall of the season

55+ Social for Ridge Meadows seniors who want to get out

Ridge Meadows 55+ Social is a Facegoup through which activities are coordinated for active seniors

On Cooking: You should cook topless

‘Water is a colourless and flavourless liquid.’

Being Young: Concussions, not my idea of a good time

I had to get doctor’s notes excusing me from classes and from both of my jobs.

Maple Ridge magnetic hill defies the law of Newton

It is a stretch of road where cars roll uphill instead of down

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

VIDEO: Vancouver fall to Seattle in Game 2 of the playoffs

Thunderbirds topple the Giants 4-1 in Langley, evening the Western Conference series one game each

Most Read