A few weeks ago, I did a cover story on how to garnish a plate, which was a lot of fun and turned out beautifully, or so I thought.

But it rubbed at least one reader and her friends the wrong way. She emailed to complain that it was frivolous, wasteful and poorly written, among other things.

Naturally, I disagree. But I respect her opinion and the perspective from which she writes.

I also welcome a suggestion she made, which is that our readers would be better served by a story on how locals are managing to put decent meals on the table at a time when food costs are rising and the economy, for so many, is tough.

It’s a subject I’ll be trying to pay attention to from time to time in the months ahead because it’s something that affects almost all of us. And I’d love to hear whether you and your family are feeling the pinch from rising food prices and how you’re coping.

This week, I take a look at the topic by talking to a local expert about how planning ahead is an effective way to stretch your food dollars.

I also have links to websites with useful information, including recipes that break down not only the nutritional content of the dishes but their cost per recipe and per serving.

I hope you’ll spend a little time on these websites and also take advantage of the resources that exist in the LSU AgCenter. We’re fortunate to have such a wealth of information right here in our backyard.

I also hope readers will recognize that food can - and should - be covered from many different perspectives. Practical information about food and the economy, food and nutrition, and effective preparation techniques is important and has a place on these pages.

So do lighter features on garnishing, entertaining and pairing wines with summer foods. I intend to do both.

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