Meals on the cheap

Feeding a family can be a costly affair, but it doesn’t have to be. Cindi Sweedler, Pampered Chef consultant, showed a gathering of about 40 community members how to prepare several kinds of cheap, frozen meals at a workshop hosted at the Stanhope Community Center on Thursday.

The event, organized by the Stanhope Library Board, helped encourage families to plan out their meals for the week and freeze them to serve later, according to Board Member Jackie Baker. In addition to the lower cost, Baker said preparing meals at home and in advance can be an activity that a family shares.

“You can connect with your kids, see what’s going on in their lives and sit down and enjoy family time,” Baker said. “We’re all about family time.”

Participants went around to different stations to prepare parts of their meals. They collected ingredients in bags for dishes including a hamburger rice hot dish, cavatini, chicken casserole, Italian beef hoagies and cheesy chicken tortilla soup. Participants were told to add meat to the ingredients and then freeze the meals to serve later. Baker said each workshop attendee paid $10 for the five meals. While the cost didn’t include the cost of meat, Baker said the recipes are still a cost effective way to feed a family.

The workshop also served as a way to add new equipment to the Community Center’s kitchen. Baker said the benefits from Pampered Chef that the host would receive for hosting the event, which include various kitchen tools, would be given to the Community Center. She said it’s a nice addition for those who rent the space.

“We’re trying to get nice things in the kitchen for when people rent it,” Baker said. “We want to provide them with nice equipment.”

The workshop brought in more people than expected. Baker said she thought the workshop would be lucky if it brought in 10 or 15 people. However, it brought in about 40 participants.

After the event, Baker said she and others are preparing to host summer programs and events at the Stanhope Library.