I've been cooking for years. Although, if you ask my husband, I've been screwing up fried eggs for just as long. (His secret: Fry them on long to avoid cooking the egg too quickly.) So I am no genius in the kitchen, but I am getting better. Flexible cooking I used to follow recipes exactly, afraid to deviate at all. (Didn't have all the ingredients? Find another recipe!) But then I discovered a recipe in a cookbook that had the same basic ingredients (meat, pasta, diced tomatoes), but the recipe authors gave suggestions on how to use different spices (chili powder or Italian seasoning) and cheeses (mozzarella vs. sharp cheddar) to totally change the taste of the dish. Since then, I have been trying my hand at doing a little kitchen experimentation. And I came up with "Flexipes" or flexible recipes. (Uh, at least I thought I coined the phrase. I guess not.) Flexipes are recipes that allow you the flexibility to create delicious, delicious dishes while using up what you have in your pantry. And how does cleaning out your pantry help you from cleaning out your wallet? Wasting less food, fewer last-minute trips to the grocery store, maybe even relying less on eating at restaurants. Because once you gain confidence in your own meal creation skills, you may prefer the challenge of creating a delicious meal out of random parts, so to speak. I often rely on skillet dinners (dinners that can be cooked entirely in one pot) to feed my family. And sometimes this means I give myself points for fewer dishes to wash later. If you're just starting out with flexipes, a skillet dinner is an easy place to start. Much like a universal muffin recipe from Amy Dacyczyn's "The Complete Tightwad Gazette," here is one of mine.