Mathematicians don’t have to be chefs. But, all chefs have to be mathematicians. All day long they add and subtract, multiply and divide, work with fractions, measure and convert from ounces to grams to liters to cups to pinches to dashes. They balance ingredients and they also balance the budget.
Math skills are every bit as crucial in the kitchen as knife skills for frugal chefs trying to carve out budgets that not only balance but get the absolute most out of every dollar they spend.
Sure, that pricey blender costs more than its competitor, bit it will last years longer. Good investment.
Yeah, silicone baking mats are more expensive than parchment, but you only have to buy them once and they eliminate mountains of paper waste. Good for the environment.
Certainly that grass fed beef is costly, but the flavor of a pasture-raised steak from a happy cow is so worth it. Good food.
And, vegetables? Most chefs will dice, slice, peel, shave, shred and julienne acres of vegetables over the course of their careers. But, vegetables are the last place a chef should cut corners.
Cream of the Crop
We’ve all seen greens that arrive at the kitchen looking wilted and bedraggled, and felt the resulting punch in the gut that comes after spending good money on inferior ingredients. A two-pound box of Chef’s Garden baby mixed Romaine lettuce is perfect straight out of the box and ready to hit the plate. All you have to do is give it a quick rinse. Depending upon the serving size, you can make twenty or more salads for pennies apiece.
Life on the Shelf
We’d rather see lettuce on our plates than in the compost. If we have to peel through the layers to get to the good part, how is that a good deal? If it spoils before we’re able to use it up, how is that helping our bottom line? Properly refrigerated, packaged and handled, the shelf life of a box of Chef’s Garden lettuce remains usable for a week and a half or more.
We’re not against spoiling, as long as it’s us spoiling our dinner guests with the best, freshest vegetables they’ve ever eaten. Price per serving aside, if customers aren’t satisfied with what’s on their plates, it isn’t a good deal, either. If they don’t get the high quality that they’re paying for, they’ll take their business elsewhere, and that definitely hurts the bottom line.
Here at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, we are lucky indeed to work every day with The Chef’s Garden’s vegetables. It’s a luxury, for sure, but not in a “break the bank” kind of way. And after crunching the numbers, we’ve actually found that it’s a decidedly affordable luxury.
We’ve literally done the math, and spending less on inferior products only buys us less flavor, less nutrition, less texture and less beauty. The only thing it buys more of is waste.