I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that Melody Polakow from the blog Melomeals is a pretty amazing woman. After being laid off, this talented vegan chef spends only $3.33 a day on food for herself and her two teen sons. Check out the delicious and healthy meals she puts together with only a few dollars and a tiny kitchen...
After being laid off from her job as a Vegan and Raw Foods Chef, Melody Polakaw tries to stick to a tight budget of $3.33 a day to feed herself and two teenage sons. You don't have to be vegan to appreciate her gorgeous photography and appetizing dishes ranging from burgers and chili to lasagna and stew...and much more!
Tell us about your family.
My family has changed a lot in the last year and a half. I am in the process of a divorce and share custody of my two teenage sons. I spent the majority of the last 17 years of my life as a married mother, so this newly single mom thing has been quite an adjustment! That includes adjusting to a small apartment kitchen.
How would you describe your cooking style?
Improv all the way! I don't follow recipes, even while baking! I love to create and allow my palate and intuition to guide me while I create dishes. My favorite thing to do is to create healthy vegan versions of many classic comfort foods.
Can we see the inside of your kitchen?
My kitchen is the bane of my existence! I have no favorite part. It is dark and cramped, and I only have TWO drawers! One for utensils and one for my various saran wraps.
It is challenging to say the least...but I still create awesome food here! My dishwasher doesn't work and I have limited counter space, but I make do! And you can, too!
When it comes to cooking, where do you find inspiration?
Mostly from the amazing vegan blogs! I used to watch Food Network when I had cable, but I don't have than anymore. So it's mostly from the blogs. And being an insomniac! I lay awake at night dreaming up recipes. Some of my best ideas have come to me in the middle of the night.
What traditions or rituals do you and your family have with respect to food?
I grew up in a vegetarian household, so that is obviously the number one thing that has been passed down. My mother cooked with whole grains and used dried legumes, so I grew up knowing how to cook these products. I am so grateful!
What do you make better than anyone else?
Hmmm... well, I'm not sure I make this better than anyone, but my kids' number one requested meal is The Good Stir Fry. They named it. It is actually more like a Thai stew than a stir fry. I created this dish years ago based on a dish we used to get at a Thai restaurant in Iowa. When we moved to New Hampshire, I craved those flavors and set out to replicate them and came up with this delicious recipe. I served it over rice and my kids being very young just automatically assumed it was a Stir Fry. The first time they ate it they kept saying, "Mom, this is such a good stir fry" And then began asking for it by that name, "Mom, will you make The Good Stir Fry for dinner?"
The Good Stir Fry
What is your one food-related indulgence?
Definitely avocados! My budget of $3.33 a day is very limiting, but I seem to make room for avocados every week! I just love them.
How has your taste/cooking changed since you had children?
Well, that was a long time ago! My sons are 15 and 17... but the biggest change was that I HATED cilantro with a passion before I was pregnant. For some reason during my pregnancy I started to crave it and began to eat it in huge amounts. In fact, I use cilantro as a veggie in many of my dishes. Both of my kids love it, too.
What are some ingredients/food items that you could never, ever live without?
Cilantro, lime, lemon, garlic, ginger, Siracha, hot peppers, tofu, potatoes, rice, flour, sesame oil, cashews, beans, corn, avocados, sprouts.
What are you favorite food blogs or websites?
I adore vegan blogs and have links to all of my favorites on my blog: www.melomeals.blogspot.com.
Thank you to Melody for sharing her fabulous meals! And don't miss these previous In the Kitchen Features on CafeMom: