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Faster, Cheaper Meals - European Style

Stuffed PeppersIn a recession, time and money are joined at the hip, and there is no time the lack of both is felt more by Americans than at mealtime.

According to a Consumer Reports poll, 71 percent of Americans said they purchased only what they absolutely needed since the economic crisis started. In addition, 61 percent said they went out to dinner less often, 53 percent put less on credit cards, 42 percent spent less on groceries, and 58 percent spent less on vacations.

Combine those results with another poll from The Express Employment Professionals Job Blog that shows nearly 56 percent of Americans were or are looking for a second job, and you get millions of Americans with very little money for groceries and less time to prepare meals with the groceries they buy.

However, one food industry expert claims that using European-style cooking spices, creams and pastes – instead of traditional American powders and flakes – can not only save money and time, but taste better.

“The idea that people can make gourmet style meals when they are working two jobs and have less money for groceries may sound far-fetched, but it’s true,” said Bill Monsour, an executive advisor to Univer Foods USA, a company that distributes European-style condiments and spices in the U.S. “The Europeans have known it for years, because they style many of their cooking products into pastes or creams, which last a lot longer than powders and extracts. A little bit of garlic cream, for instance, in a sauce or gravy goes a long way – much further than garlic salt, which also makes for a gritty texture. That’s why the Europeans are known for their gourmet dishes, because their cooking products create richer flavor with a creamier, more pleasing texture.”

A wide variety of flavors are possible with the combinations of the European products, Monsour added.

Uniever“A lot of people wouldn’t expect to see paprika, garlic and peppers in a paste form, but that’s what the chefs use in Europe,” he said. “They even infuse basic condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup with different flavors, making even traditional condiments more interesting.”

Monsour, a former restaurateur whose establishments in Vail, Colorado competed with some of the top European eateries in town, is very familiar with the European style.

“Top gourmet chefs see these kinds of spices and condiments as staples,” he said. “They wouldn’t work in a kitchen without them. What many people don’t know is that they are also economical, because you don’t have to use a lot in order to really get the flavor to stand out. Because they are packaged in tubes, most of them don’t need refrigeration, because they aren’t exposed to air the same way powder spices are. Most of the products of this nature will last as long as 12 months without spending a minute in the fridge.”

The pastes and creams which can be found on sites such as www.judisuniverstore.com can also make cooking faster and easier when applied correctly.

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