Melissa d’Arabian hosts Food Network’s daytime cooking series Ten Dollar Dinners and Cooking Channel’s lifestyle show Drop 5 lbs with Good Housekeeping. Melissa competed on and won season five of The Next Food Network Star, and her first cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners (Clarkson Potter, August 2012) comes out tomorrow. We recently sat down with Melissa to ask her a few questions about the new book and her best tips for busy, cost-conscious cooks.
What inspired you to write Ten Dollar Dinners?
On the show Ten Dollar Dinners, I get to bring my real life experiences to the viewers…from my childhood growing up on a very tight budget to being a graduate student living on student loans to my life as a stay at home mom and then a working parent. In the book, I get to do all of that and more. My goal is for each recipe not only to give readers a fantastic dish but also to add one or two tools to their toolkit for budget management in general. When readers make my French cut steak, I want them to love their dinner, AND learn a few things about buying steak and plating steak that will save them money in general.
“My goal is for each recipe not only to give readers a fantastic dish but also to add one or two tools to their toolkit for budget management in general.”
What are your best tips for money management at the grocery store?
In Ten Dollar Dinners, I give my “ten commandments” of budget shopping, and I give tips for navigating some grocery pricing strategies, as well as a guideline for building a fantastic pantry that will support budget cooking. One of my favorite commandments is to be smart about your splurges: splurge in the produce aisle! A handful of fancy mushrooms, for instance, will only cost you an extra 75 cents, but it will turn an omelet or pasta dish into something very special.
It’s just about time for kids to head back to school. Do you have any great suggestions for healthy after-school snacks? What do your daughters like to snack on?
I like my update on the traditional cookies and milk: my black bean brownies add some fiber, nutrients and protein to the classic treat. Perfect for dunking in ice-cold milk!
Quick! Dinner needs to be on the table in 20 minutes. What do you make?
4 step chicken. Done.
What is your personal favorite Ten Dollar Dinner?
Potato bacon torte because it reminds me of my mother in law (and I really do think it won me my spot in the Food Network Star finale!), Café Green salad, because it’s simple yet special, and affogato, because I love tiny, sweet desserts that are a breeze to make.
Recipes From Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa d’Arabian