I love to eat ethnic food: Chinese, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Korean, Mexican, Thai, and lots of others. But have you ever noticed that when you make a dish like curry you have to buy a bunch of ingredients like coconut milk or curry paste that you don't use for any of your other recipes? Or how about when you're making chili and you have that leftover half container of sour cream or salsa that you can never seem to find a use for? Or how many times have you wasted half a can of tomato paste because you only needed a couple of tablespoons? So much waste, it hardly seems worth it to make the delicious foreign foods. So here's what works for me - ethnic food weeks.
This week is Southeast Asian week. That $2 bottle of fish sauce I bought? I'll be using it in every single recipe this week: red curry, Vietnamese spring rolls, Thai coconut soup, and pad thai. So I'm not wasting $2 on a bottle of fish sauce for just 1 Tbs of use. And the half can of coconut milk left over from making the curry, which would usually end up being thrown out, it's being used for the coconut soup. The bunch of cilantro I bought for the spring rolls, the extra can be used as garnish for all the other dishes.
Taking a week or so tour of a certain ethnic cuisine is a great way to make sure you use up all those exotic ingredients that are specific to one style of cooking. It's also a great way to get a lot out of your budget, because most ingredients you buy will have more than one use during the week. Plus, many foreign cuisines rely less on meat than many American meals. And the longer you continue to eat from the same cuisine, the bigger the economic benefits. Take our famed Korean food month experiment.
So give it a try yourself, and please let me know how it works out for you!