Friday is pay day for a lot of families in North Texas, and grocery shopping can take up a big chunk of the budget.
The Grand Prairie Library wants to help with classes teaching families how to stretch their dollars.
“I come from a working family, and we had to stick to a budget. I’ve learned that not everybody, even when they come from a working class family, they never actually stick to a budget,” said Marie Matos, the library service representative who prepares, plans and produces the ‘Sunday Funday’ virtual classes.
“The pandemic kind of brought that out in me. I didn’t realize how much of a baker and a cook I was,” Matos said. “I’m just your regular old folk, at home, thinking about all these things. I can’t be the only one.”
With that thinking, she launched virtual cooking classes from her kitchen. She started back in the summer teaching teenagers how to bake and now hosts the one-hour class focused on meal prep and budgeting.
She encourages those who join her to use what they have on hand, try new recipes and one of her biggest takeaways is to take the initial hit to buy in bulk.
“I get my chicken, and my ground beef and I have it in my freezer and I divvy it up for the week and that minimizes the cost I have over all in the month,” she tells the participants listening and watching over Zoom.
Matos is not professionally trained in cooking or finance but instead relies on what she learned growing up in Puerto Rico.
“We only go to a big grocery stores once a month. And, we buy all our poultry, all our meats, and then we divide it in the freezer and that way, we can stretch it out and you never feel like you’re struggling really because there’s always food in your house and that’s one less stress you have to worry about. Yeah, you can’t go out to eat but you can make it fun at home,” she said.
Family is how Matos thinks of the group that joins her on Sunday afternoons. She likes when others offer suggestions, cook along with her and just have a conversation.
“Cooking and family almost go hand in hand to me. So when I’m doing these classes, I want people to see, yes, these are tough times and we have to learn to re-adapt but it doesn’t have to be all bad,” Matos said.
She’s learned be to resourceful in her own life, and she believes she’s helping others find clever solutions, too.
“And, I do that by cooking. You may not have a lot but you might have enough to share with those that don’t have anything ,” she said.
From the kitchen in her apartment comes recipes for life.
“It’s as real as it gets. I don’t have it all figured out. Sometimes my recipes go great. Other times, not so great they don’t go quite that great. That is cooking and I learn from my mistakes and next time I won’t do it that way,” she said.