nonna

On a warm Southern Italian night, thousands of people descended on the “festival of grandmothers’ sandwiches”—a pannini festival celebrating the simple sandwiches that Italian grandmothers have made for years, but that may have been forgotten by young people accustomed to fast food, reported the BBC in a recent story. And, many Italians are returning to a more traditional, home-cooked diet because of the recession, eating out less, and spending fewer euros at fast food restaurants.

According to the grandmothers’ sandwiches festival’s founders, we can all learn a little from dear old nonna when it comes to eating well—and saving money. 

1. Waste not, want not

For many older Italians, carefully drying produce—like tomatoes, artichokes and peppers—and then preserving them in oil was second nature; nothing went to waste, and the preserved vegetables were used to make sandwich fillings later in the winter. Look for ways to buy in bulk when foods are at their peak (and at their least expensive) and preserve them for later. Try canning, drying, freezing and pickling for a wide variety of foods and flavors.

2. Leftovers are precious

Some of the most popular “old-fashioned” pannini fillings in Italy are made from leftovers—like slices of eggplant parmisan. The message is that by saving a bit of dinner back for tomorrow, you can have a delicious lunch without relying on fast food or restaurants. Look for ways to repurpose leftovers for interesting lunches and avoid eating out.

3. Home cooking is healthy

We’ve all heard about the French diet or the Mediterranean diet, but many French and Italians have been getting away from their traditional meals. By returning to the home-cooked meals their grandparents loved out of financial necessity, some people hope that they will also be combatting the rising levels of obesity. Because, let’s face it: cooking fresh veggies at home is always going to be healthier than grabbing anything to go.

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