I have $24 to last me til Friday, what should I buy with it?
a pallet of ramen noodles
I hate ramen noodles tho
Are you suggesting that I eat bees for a week
This is roughly what I make sure I have in my kitchen all the time along with rough estimates of local prices (MN). I buy a lot of things when they’re on sale and stockpile them.
instant oatmeal packets with fruit in them – $3 probably and this can be breakfast all week and maybe even a lunch or dinner too since you usually get 10 packets
bag of rice – $2-3 depending on size. 1 cup dry rice makes enough for about two meals depending on what you add in. if you get cheap rice, rinse it before cooking
canned beans – usually under $1 per can – mix the can with your rice and you have a meal. chili-spiced beans will make bean tacos. Rinse non-spiced beans before adding to anything.
Tortilla – usually around $3 but you get like 8-10 of them. Tacos, wraps, and quesadillas are all fair game here
lettuce – $2 max around here, either a head of something or bagged precut depending on preference, use as a salad or on tacos
protein other than beans of some sort – probably $5-7 for meat, $2-3 for eggs. sometimes I can get bags of frozen chicken breasts in this price range and each is usually 2 meals if I add in a bunch of veggies. fry/scramble eggs and add to any of the options.
your favorite stir fry sauce – $3ish
vegetables – $5ish. literally anything that you can 1. fry in a pan and 2. you’ll eat. fresh carrots are usually pretty cheap. get frozen if it’s cheaper and you’re strapped for cash/prep time on this part.
alternative to stir fry: pasta (~$2), fresh tomatoes (~$2), cheese (~$3).
cheese and fruit if you have extra – look if your store has loyalty cards for free that you can load coupons on for cheese there’s always one it seems like.
ahh thank you!!!
Reblogging because there’s never knowing who’ll need it.
Adding also: the single most nutritious food on earth is potatoes in their peel. Potatoes + some milk and butter = everything you need. They don’t last all that long, but they’re fairly cheap and the quickest cheat to “How do I not fuck my body up.”
(Cooked potatoes’ll last a while in the fridge. Potatoes nearing the end of their useful lives? Cook them to half-done first, figure out what to do with them later.)
Easiest baked potatoes: slice thinly but not paper-like, spread like cards, brush with oil (a silicone baking brush is totes worth the little it costs), spread salt and pepper (a little less than you think you’d like), cover with foil, stick in oven or toaster-oven at 150C for 40min. (If you have the patience, at that point click up to 180C, remove the cover and add 10-20min.) Reheats well, lasts in the fridge longer than it’ll take you to nom.
Dead-Animal-Free Whole Protein: some legumes + some grain. AKA rice and lentils, or rice and beans. (Maybe some fried onion for flavor; onion’s cheap and stays good a descent while. Fried onion makes everything taste better and keeps forever in the freezer, so frying up a bunch and keeping portions is not a half-bad idea.) (If going for the beans option – lentils are cheaper around here but fuck if I know what it’s like in your area – dump some tomato sauce and oil in; canola or soy are best health-wise, and far cheaper than olive; avoid corn.) Oh, what does instant couscous go for in your area? It keeps for fucking ever, it’s usually cheap, and it takes well to any and all added taste.
If you get to choose, black lentils taste the best and need the least soak-time (0-20min), green lentils are best for cooked stuff and red lentils are best in soups. (Red lentils + potatoes + root vegetables of choice + spices; cut into small pieces, cook, run through the blender if you wanna [stick blender’s awesome], freeze in portions.)
When possible, get instant soup mix. Get the good instant soup mix. (The kind that’s not made primarily of sugar, yeast or both. The rest is optional.) Dump 1/2tsp (or more, but start on the low end) into couscous, or chicken, or sprinkle over potatoes being stuck in the oven. Whatever. It’ll make most cooked-food-type things taste better. And again, lasts forever on the shelf.
If you can have eggs (goodness knows they’re sometimes expensive), dump some tomato sauce in a pan (tomato sauce lasts forever on the shelf), add some oil, onion/beans to cook in it, hot peppers if you wanna, then when it’s nearly ready crack an egg or two in. Hard-boiled eggs last a remarkably while in the fridge, so when eggs reach near the end of their usable lives, just hard-boil and stick in the fridge.
(Have eggs as often as you can, particularly as you have brain-shit going on. You need all the eggs, salt, and 60%-or-more chocolate you can get. Brains are made of cholesterol and salt, so folks with neuro or other brain shit need more of both. Potassium is also aces. You know what has the most potassium? Tomato paste.)
Grated cheese keeps in the freezer for ever. Grated cheese will make a lot of things taste nicer. Preserved lemon juice keeps forever in the fridge. Grated cheese + oil + lemon = instant and awesome pasta sauce that’ll liven up the weeks-old dry pasta in the fridge.
Slices bread also keeps well in the freezer. Try to have half a loaf or a loaf. Dry bread gets cut in cubes, mixed with oil and the aforementioned instant soup, stuck in oven at lowest until properly dry, then kept in an airtight jar to add to soups.
(Over-ripe tomatoes come cheaper. They get turned into soup or sauce, then frozen in portions.)
If you have any oil, my favorite way of doing potatoes is to scrub the skins well, oil them slightly, and roast at 450F for 45-60 minutes (kind of depends on how big they are and what they’re sharing the oven with.)
One whole chicken helps you eat for a week. http://jenrose.com/broke-cooking/ for getting started with it.
Note that at some places, rotisserie may be cheaper than an actual raw bird. Watch for sales. For example, one store near me has “cheap chicken Mondays” where you can get like 8 pieces fried or a whole roast bird for $5-6. If you start with a rotisserie chicken, eat up to ¼ of it the first night, let it cool to the point it won’t burn you, pull all the meat off and save it, turn the bones, skin and fat into broth, and you will come out with 5-6 servings of meat, 4-6 servings of soup when all is said and done–it’s basically lunch and dinner for 4 days. Chicken meat can go in tortillas with cheese and beans, with mayo in a sandwich, in a salad, in curry, into a bowl of ramen noodles…
This time of year, watch for turkey sales. If you can score a cheap turkey (< 0.50 per pound) and have a knife and some anger issues (I would tap into my deep hatred for the Republicans in the federal government, personally) you can break down a whole turkey into about two servings of meat per gross pound of bird, plus enough bones to make stock for weeks. Youtube can tell you how to cut up a raw bird, but freezing individual turkey breasts or even breast cutlets and leg quarters gives you a way to have meat for the next month. You can even cut up the turkey meat into cubes, freeze those in serving-sized bags, and cook those up very quickly, toss them in with mac and cheese or other dishes to boost the protein content. You can do anything you do with chicken with turkey.
Onions, garlic and carrots are cheap and high levels of bang-for-buck on taste. A head of celery also helps pack in flavor, as do bell peppers if you can stomach them.
Hitting up an Asian food market for cheap noodles, rice, vegetables and protein is a very good idea. Mexican markets too, depending on your area of the country. I can get whole ducks for $3 per pound (not what I’m recommending, but duck runs $5-9 per pound at every other store in town) at the local market, other things are even cheaper, and you can also find things like curry paste which last forever, where a half teaspoon can take ramen from “Oh god I have hit the bottom” to “I actually want to put this in my mouth.”
I often make rice or ramen and drop an egg in it and cook it until the white sets but not the yolk, and I’m not broke.
A bag of PAN cornmeal can make a godzillion pupusas or arepas and they take SO little time to prepare. Stuff with cheese, maybe some other protein, whatever veg you have…
We keep a bunch of green onions (<$1) and a bunch of cilantro in a little jar of water on the counter all the time–a little bit added to anything gives it a bright, herby, oniony taste. Rice, egg, green onion, cilantro, curry paste or salsa, maybe some beans, maybe some turkey, whatever… If you don’t like cilantro, parsley or basil… parsley is cheap, they’re just ways of getting a little more green in you while packing large amounts of flavor.
ok here is my old-school advice for how to survive on twenty bucks a week:
- rice is the foundation of your meal. dry rice keeps forever. buy the 25 pound bag at the asian grocery, it will last you for months.
- some flavorful fat like butter, extra virgin olive oil, maybe something herb infused. this is where you splurge a bit, because a little goes a long way.
- soup bones and cheap cuts of meat. learn to make stock. extremely cheap, high in protein and collagen and trace minerals. simmer the tough, cheap meat as part of the stock recipe until it’s falling-apart tender, then fish it out and shred it; keep that in the fridge to have on your rice.
- veggies that are cheap and keep a while: carrots, potatoes, squash, yams
- veggies that can be kept alive indefinitely in a cup on the windowsill with a little water: scallions, celery
- veggies that are pretty ok when they’ve been frozen: cauliflower, broccoli, pea pods
- slowly build a collection of sauces and spices, starting with the basics like soy sauce, cider vinegar, whole peppercorns and a decent grinder, garlic salt, oregano, basil, and chili pepper. it’s amazing how many things you can make taste amazing with a little fresh ground pepper and a pinch of salt.
this is an ongoing thing; you build your pantry over time. i have a celery plant i’ve snipped the occasional stalk from for more than a year now, for instance, and a bunch of scallions two weeks old growing happily in a water glass on the windowsill. remember to change the water regularly and strip off dead layers so it doesn’t rot. you make rice ahead and partition it into meal-sized bins in the fridge; it’ll stay nice for about a week. )do NOT freeze cooked rice, it’ll get mushy.)
your meal formula is: rice, one or two veg, a bit of meat, and a sauce or oil+spice. for instance, squash tossed with olive oil and garlic salt and baked until it’s a little crispy on the outside. or cauliflower and french cut green beans with lemon butter. carrots and scallions with soy sauce and mirin. sweet corn with a sprinkle of chili pepper.
keep it simple, and vary the toppings, and you won’t get tired of rice for a long, long time.
Do you have a good stock recipe? All my attempts at stock turned out kinda bland and ehhh.
- brown the bones in the oven first, and put their drippings in the stock with them.
- don’t forget the aromatics! no need to add every herb known to man, but some celery and a bay leaf is pretty much essential.
- salt. more salt than that. it’s a big pot, salt it accordingly.
- simmer at LEAST overnight. 48 hours is not too long.
- when straining, don’t completely clarify the broth unless you’re going for some kind of french chef michelin star bullshit. the fine particulates add flavor. that swirly dust is pepper and specks of herb and fragments of oven-browning, it’s good stuff.
Green apples last a while in the fridge. They taste good with Sriracha and/or chunky hot chili sauce, they go well as side items to many foods, can be paired with nuts or cheese for breakfast, and they can help with nausea. ✌🏾✊🏾
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