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via The Patriot Ledger Dining RSS by RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI on 9/23/08
Arnisha Keyes admits she’s no Rachael Ray. Until recently, she spent $30 a day to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at restaurants.
But the high price of gas has her testing her cooking skills to save money, packing lunch for work and experimenting with dinner salads by microwaving frozen vegetables, mixing them with spinach and pouring ranch dressing on top.
``I’ve been going to the grocery store a little bit more frequently,'' Keyes says, laughing sheepishly at her previous lifestyle. ``It saves you a lot more money if you just buckle down and focus on eating at home.''
Keyes’ cooking ventures aren’t unusual – they’re part of a national trend to eat at home to save money, according to market research firms. But after years of eating out, many people have found they don’t have a pot to cook in or a cookbook to guide them.
The sudden rush to buy basic cooking necessities has driven up sales of cookbooks, inexpensive cookware and the basic foods needed to concoct a meal. And cooking magazines and Web sites are booming even as magazine sales overall have suffered.
About 45 percent of Americans are eating out less this year to save money, a nearly 12 percent increase from 2007, according to BIGResearch, a Worthington, Ohio-based firm that does consumer research.
Cookware sales overall have declined in the past year, but items selling for less than $100 are doing ``remarkably well,'' said Florence Sheffer, spokeswoman for the cookware distributor Meyer Corp. in Vallejo, Calif. Cast-iron cookware in that price category, for instance, has recorded a 19 percent sales increase over a year ago, the most popular being those with celebrity chef name tags.