Economics 101: Three Meals on $3 a Day

Article excerpt

Greg Margolese never thought he'd be writing a cookbook. After talking to him, you might be surprised too.

"Al dente?" he asked. "What's that?"

But when the former economics instructor started reading about corporate downsizings that were sending millions of Americans into unemployment lines, he decided that the study of theoretical economics could take a lesson from home economics.

Coping with today's economy may boil down to feeding your family on a tight budget, he concluded. Thus began the research for "The Frugal Chef's Good Health Cookbook" that promises three ample meals for about $3 a day.

For Margolese, writing a cookbook combined his greatest passion _ eating _ with the humdrum job of finance.

A heavy-set former weight lifter, Margolese admits that he's never been able to figure out how the study of economics applies to the real world. Indeed, when teaching economics at University of La Verne, he says a good portion of the lesson involved explaining how theories by renowned economists such as Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes didn't always pan out in the face of economic crisis.

"You have all these great theories, but they're no better at predicting the course of the economy than most people are at predicting the weather," he maintained.

Not surprisingly, Margolese no longer teaches. He's does computer consulting for big companies that want to plug economic models into their mainframes.

He's equally unconventional when it comes to dispensing cooking tips.

Most cookbooks require a Ph.D. to understand, he grouses. And what's with all these spices? The average cookbook recipe has 14 ingredients, he adds. As far as Margolese is concerned, putting more than seven things in one pot is pushing the edge of the envelope.

His personal pet peeve is recipes that call for three egg whites but only one yolk. "What are you supposed to do with the other yolks? Throw them away?"

If you're looking for fancy cuisine, "The Frugal Chef" is a disappointment. Margolese doesn't puree. …