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kutsu

2009: Eating Really Really Cheap

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So, Maggie, have you tried any of these suggestions? What's working well?


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I recently made red beans with turmeric, tomatoes and coconut milk that was delicious, inexpensive and quite easy to do. I just sauteed onions and garlic in my cocotte, added turmeric, a bit of chili, cooked good quality red beans, a can of tomatos with juice and the coconut milk, let it all simmer and served with basmati rice. We had enough for a few meals and I had all of the ingredients in my pantry but I would imagine the cost was no more than 5 dollars so less than one dollar per serving.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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This thread has some great ideas:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=120961


“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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have a look at the 5 minute artisan bread thread in the pastry and baking section. makes amazing bread with little or no effort. even better is the pizza you can do with the dough - easily the best I've ever eaten at home and now that I've got a big bowl of dough in the fridge its ready within the time it takes the oven to get up to maximum temperature. a little tinned tomato/passata cooked down with olive oil and a ball of mozarella, beats any supermarket bought pizza hands down. :cool:

oh yeah, and soup. :smile:

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I put myself on a budget challenge for the next months

I´m blogging about it here, hopefully updating daily.

The goal is to take 100 euros a month of my grocery expenses. The motivation is the fact that I just booked a ticket to go to Rome for a couple of days in May... a ticket I actually can´t afford. Hence the title of the challenge: eat cheap, travel far :smile:

My blog is mostly in Dutch, but these posts will be in English.

....

Just wanted to add something.

I realize that budgetting grocery expenses to be able to go on a trip, may seem extravagant and even offensive to people who are struggling just to get by, and for whom a trip abroad is very far from their minds.

I realize that I am very fortunate to be in the position I´m in. Personally, I haven´t really felt the crisis yet - 2008 was my best year to date, when it comes to how much money I made.

But I do feel that I have to get more responsible when it comes to shopping, buying, wasting.

I hope that the next weeks will be a revelation and will give me a new appreciation for how lucky I am.


Edited by Chufi (log)

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Soba's menu so far this week:

Saturday (1/25): Roast chicken, colcannon

Sunday: Potage de crécy, salad, a baguette

Monday: Leftover soup, French omelette

Tuesday: Pasta with bacon, cabbage and onion confit

Wednesday: Leftover pasta, salad

Last night: Chicken and vegetable stir-fry (using leftover chicken and some odds and ends in my vegetable bin)

Tonight: Probably leftovers from last night, though I'll turn the rice into fried rice (basically cooked rice, garlic and scallions. I like my fried rice minimalist.)

This weekend: There's still a ton of meat on the chicken. I'm thinking chicken congee or something, maybe chicken with dumplings. Then there's the carcass. That will be turned into stock.

There's a bag full of leftover smoked bacon, and a container of mushrooms. Probably make bacon and mushroom risotto with a mushroom stock. I have most of the ingredients on hand already. For the stock -- carrots, celery and other aromatics; the most I'd need to get would be some shiitakes. For the risotto, it'd be bacon, mushrooms, rice, butter, onion, wine and the aforementioned stock.

All of the meals above cost less than $10. The risotto is likely the sole exception but then you need to consider that I've had the Arborio for a while now and the bacon is a BIG bag of smoked odds and ends. It cost something like $15 but it's good for at least five meals and I won't use all of it at once.

You can still eat very well if you buy in bulk and plan ahead, in addition to saving everything/wasting nothing.


Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)

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Evening all

A growing trend (considering the economy) in the UK is to start looking towards cheaper meals, making the most of the foods available in season, and to bulk cook.

I'm making a special effort to make meat a once or twice a week type of treat, because good meat is expensive and it makes it seem even more special. But i'm struggling for ideas for everyday type food, and could do with a few ideas!

So far, I've enjoyed the obligatory soups (a curried lentil soup especially hit the spot and is made for pennies), as well as a butter bean & chorizo stew, delicious and frugal because of the meat being used a seasoning rather than for protein.

Anyone have suggestions to add for cheap food for hard times?

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I´ve said this on other threads, but to me this is still the best tip for economizing: shop in your own pantry/fridge/freezer. It´s amazing how many meals you can make from what you already have. Don´t go to the store, not even for 1 item. I find that if I go to the store for ´just a pack of butter and a pound of beef´ I´ll end up will all sorts of other things in my cart, and I end up spending way more than I wanted to.

I found that by making an inventory list of our pantry items, it's easier to plan meals around these items. It was a little time consuming but worth it. My husband and I were completely broke over the weekend...Superbowl weekend!.....but we ended up scraping together 10 bucks between us and ended up with:

pork tacos: leftover pulled pork from the freezer to which we added Mexican spices; flour and corn tortillas from the freezer; taco sauce from a bottle I found in the back of the pantry; sour cream-(a fridge staple in our house); and lettuce which we purchased on sale for $1.45

guacamole: 2 avocados purchased for $4; some onion from the pantry; jalapenos purchased for $.06; and juice from limes that were in the fridge; cilantro from the veggie bin in the fridge

tortilla chips: a bag organic corn tortilla chips on sale for $2.19 (we could have fried our town tortilla chips but we didn't have enough oil on hand. it turned out to be cheaper to buy the bag.)

key lime pie: graham crackers from the pantry for the crust; a bottle of Nellie & Joe's key lime juice from the pantry; 4 eggs - all that was left of the carton in the fridge; a can of sweetened condensed milk from the pantry (left over from the holidays I guess)

For under $8, we had a feast! :biggrin: Not the most gourmet of meals but satisfying fare for a football game.

Monday night we had a delicious lentil soup all with ingredients we had on hand: dried lentils, spinach, beef broth, carrots, celery, onion, etc. It's been challenging but rewarding to try to be as creative as possible with what we have already in the larder combined with what we can afford to buy with a few pennies.


Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell

~Gusteau, Ratatouille

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As I am a carb-head of long standing and by preference don't eat much meat, my biggest expense category is alcohol. To stretch it out, I've started fermenting my own hard cider. It turns out to be one of the most stupidly easy processes there is. My husband and I think it's pretty tasty, and even if it doesn't end up cutting my expenses by much, I'm having a blast.

How to Make Hard Cider

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I shop at the local 99 cent store for my vegetables. Yesterday I got 3 lbs. of Yukon Gold potates, very large head of beautiful cauliflower, large bag of key limes, bag of 3 hearts of romaine, bag of spinach, 4 red peppers, 3 zucchini in a package, large celery, large bag of carrots, large bag of red onions... each costing $1. I passed up the tomatoes as I find they don't ripen well and the taste is off. I got my Roma tomatoes at the local Mexican market, 3 lbs. for a dollar on sale.

I bake my own bread, buying the 25 lb. bag of flour at Smart and Final. I use my own sour dough starter (which I made using the La Brea bakery method). The only other ingredients in the bread are water, 2 teaspoons sugar and a tablespoon of kosher salt. I also buy SAS yeast for regular bread which comes in 1 lb. bags and is less than $4... at Smart and Final. Supermarkets yeast is outrageously expensive compared to this.

I make "garbage soup" from the veggies left in the bins that are starting to get a little old. Make the stock from chicken bones, necks, backs, wing tips that are left when buying whole chickens which I can get here on sale from 69 to 99 cents per lb. on sale.

If you get to the supermarket early enough in the morning they have meat with a "sold by" date but has nothing the matter with it. I either freeze or cook it when I get home.

I grow my own tomatoes in the summer.

I like Vella burgandy box wine... on sale around $7.99 a box. And Cristalino Brut Champagne.

Yogurt can be made at home, too. Its easy.


Edited by Isabelle Prescott (log)

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A topic close to our hearts. The answer is the Mediterranean Diet - mainly vegetables, pasta and risottos. Since we are located on the California Central Coast we use mostly local farmers market produce which is available year round, good quality and reasonably priced here. We use meat sparingly, mostly for taste not volume. Not only will you cut food bill by a lot (--leaving a bit more in the monthly budget for wine!), but your health will improve too!

If you are interested our website dedicated to our California Central Coast lifestyle has a lot of easy recipes at http://theromantictable.com/recipe_index.php


Larry McGourty

TheRomanticTable.com Food and Wine News from the California Central Coast.

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I learned how to cook out of neccesity. When my husband started his business, I had $25/week to feed a family of four, one of them being a 15-year old boy. I used Jane Brody's Good Food cookbook a lot. She had a lot of healthy economical recipes in it. I try to grow as much as I possibly can, when I didn't have land, I grew them in pots. I buy protein on sale, and supplement it with lots of legumes and grains. I belong to a buying club, so I am able to get wonderful, mostly organic grains in bulk. When you have very little money coming in, it is best to plan you menu around the sales. I would love to only buy locally and organic, but it isn't always possible when your funds are limited. I love the tip about the green onions, thanks! You can do the same with lemongrass, but I never thought of green onions.

No one has said anything about pizza or calzones. Make the dough from scratch and put on it whatever you have in the fridge. You can refrigerate the dough until you are ready to use it. I make bagels from scratch too, easy and in my opinion better than store bought. But I live in St. Joe, MO, so bagels here pretty much suck.

I also make chilis using ground turkey and add lentils, barleyand zucchini to stretch it out. It freezes great and is pretty healthy, and it is really good.

I bought a pack of chicken breasts bone-in for .79/lb. I have made chicken salad sandwiches, chicken enchiladas and tonight chicken soup and I still have one more chicken breast left. For approx. $3 I have made four meals. It is like others have said, you make protein the compliment of the meal.


Edited by dawnie2u (log)

"Reminds me of my of safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water." W C Fields

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As I am a carb-head of long standing and by preference don't eat much meat, my biggest expense category is alcohol. To stretch it out, I've started fermenting my own hard cider. It turns out to be one of the most stupidly easy processes there is. My husband and I think it's pretty tasty, and even if it doesn't end up cutting my expenses by much, I'm having a blast.

How to Make Hard Cider

We have also been trying to cut corners, but after laughing so hard after reading this post I may need a new computer screen.

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Lots of great suggestions in this thread already, and things I definitely do. My mother sometimes teases me that I've become a lot like an "old italian mama" in that I spend so much of my day both shopping and preparing food, but if you have the time to do so, you can really save a lot of money in the long run.

A few things I'll re-iterate or throw into the mix:

- Buy in bulk. Even if you live and cook solo, buy family packs of meat. Take them home, re-wrap and freeze items into single-serving sized portions.

- Make your own "snack foods". Instead of spending upwards of $4-5 on a bag of Tostitos, I can buy 2 pounds of fresh corn tortillas from my local grocer for maybe $2, and fry them up fresh when I want them. Not only are they cheaper chips, but they taste far better than anything out of a bag, and I can control exactly what kind of oil they're cooked in (or bake/flame-heat as I wish).

- I'll also make veggie snacks by "pickling" baby carrots, daikon, and other veggies using Japanese recipes (my favorite sourcebook for this is Japanese Country Cookbook, which you can buy used on Amazon for less than $3. A good solution to using up veggies you might have bought but didn't use right away, and don't want to let spoil.

- Clean out your fridge regularly - and make use of what's there before buying more! I always find it a good move to "inventory" my fridge before going shopping. Do I really need to get fresh mushrooms tonight, or do I already have a package on hand to use up first?

- Corollary to the last point, but make up shopping lists based on what you actually plan to cook, and stick to them. Not to say you should turn your nose up at a great deal you find at the supermarket, but don't buy something you just happen to pass by and think, "Oh, I *could* make..." Stick with the things you definitely *plan* to make in the next few days or so. This will help cut down on wasted food that just ends up spoiling in your fridge or on the shelf.

- Freeze leftovers in single-serving containers. A lot of folks I know complain about eating leftovers because they "don't want to eat the same thing for an entire week." I can definitely sympathize with that, so when I make a big pot of soup or stew or anything else, I'll leave in the fridge what I think I'll eat in the next day or two, and save the rest. It's much more efficient to heat up some homemade fish or bean soup out of a big batch that only cost a few dollars to make than to waste $4-5 on a stingy little serving of Lean Cuisine, or something similar.


Edited by sockii (log)

sockii

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| South Jersey Foodie |

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A topic close to our hearts. The answer is the Mediterranean Diet - mainly vegetables, pasta and risottos. Since we are located on the California Central Coast we use mostly local farmers market produce which is available year round, good quality and reasonably priced here.  We use meat sparingly, mostly for taste not volume.  Not only will you cut  food bill by a lot (--leaving a bit more in the monthly budget for wine!), but your health will improve too!

Is it just me, or do others find that shopping at farmers' markets is not necessarily a way to lower food costs? If I had unlimited funds I would do most of my shopping at the Berkeley farmers' market--everything there is beautiful. But my husband and I have roughly calculated the price of one bag of vegetables at about $30. I'm talking about onions, beets, greens, peppers, lettuce, beans and so on. Make that lots of tomatoes and a few peaches in the summer and we're talking more like $40 per bag. A dozen eggs from free-range chickens are now over $7.

Perhaps south of me on the central coast the farms are local so the produce doesn't have to travel. It isn't exactly making a small footprint to drive a pickup truck from the farm 3 or 4 hours to Berkeley. I appreciate the value of shopping locally and organic, but it costs a premium in many locations and isn't realistic for anyone watching their dollars and cents.

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A topic close to our hearts. The answer is the Mediterranean Diet - mainly vegetables, pasta and risottos. Since we are located on the California Central Coast we use mostly local farmers market produce which is available year round, good quality and reasonably priced here.  We use meat sparingly, mostly for taste not volume.  Not only will you cut  food bill by a lot (--leaving a bit more in the monthly budget for wine!), but your health will improve too!

Is it just me, or do others find that shopping at farmers' markets is not necessarily a way to lower food costs? If I had unlimited funds I would do most of my shopping at the Berkeley farmers' market--everything there is beautiful. But my husband and I have roughly calculated the price of one bag of vegetables at about $30. I'm talking about onions, beets, greens, peppers, lettuce, beans and so on. Make that lots of tomatoes and a few peaches in the summer and we're talking more like $40 per bag. A dozen eggs from free-range chickens are now over $7.

Perhaps south of me on the central coast the farms are local so the produce doesn't have to travel. It isn't exactly making a small footprint to drive a pickup truck from the farm 3 or 4 hours to Berkeley. I appreciate the value of shopping locally and organic, but it costs a premium in many locations and isn't realistic for anyone watching their dollars and cents.

It depends on what you get and how you shop, and how many you're cooking for. If I were splurging, I might pick up some sucrine or nasturtium petals. These are some of the pricier items at Union Square Greenmarket (USGM for short), for instance.

On the other hand, a recent trip to USGM brought in dinner for one week at less than $30:

free-range chicken: $15

bag of potatoes: $2

bag of mixed variety carrots: $2.50

bag of parsnips: $2

turnips: $3

winter cress: $3

bunch of parsley: $1

*roast chicken

*roasted vegetables

*chicken congee

*chicken stock

*chicken salad

*carrot potage

*watercress potage

*potato galette

I'm not including staples at home. I'm also cooking for one.

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It's not a strategy, but for a quick meal, frozen edamame are cheap, nutritious, filling, and quick.  And go well with a glass of wine.

And with some butter and Spike, I was able to convince my kid she likes it more than popcorn as a treat.


“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”

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Berkeley is an expensive place to live in general.

The farmers market costs are cheaper here, most of the U.S. produce originates here anyway. A full stalk of Brussels Sprouts runs about $2.00, a large bunch of beets with fresh leaves about the same. Then there are all kinds of greens etc... Some things can get pricey like specialty berries, but things like Strawberries are available year round and a lot cheaper than in the commercial markets.

We even have a couple of vendors for things like local lamb and beef (Custom cut Lamb Shank runs about $6.00 a pound -great for Osso Buco) Usually the cost is no more than a Vons for example, but the quality is a lot higher. And of course, the Central Coast is one of the last places with a commercial fishing fleet, so even high quality sea food is available at our farmers markets, as odd as that may sound.

It is very rural here, so wine and food IS our local entertainment on the Central Coast. If you like to cook and like drinking wine, this is where you want to be -and that is the main reason we started our website http://theromantictable.com to share ideas with friends how to cook seasonally by using what is available in quantity and quality in the local markets.

Farmers markets are a good resource here, but obviously not everywhere. On the other hand in cities you have large discount places we don't here.


Larry McGourty

TheRomanticTable.com Food and Wine News from the California Central Coast.

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I've been looking more at the dried beans available at my grocery store since pasta is getting more expensive (the cheapest was $1.55 for a bag of macaroni [i don't know why the same weight of pastas cost so much more - 12 oz bags go for anywhere between $1.55 to 2.69 depending on the shape, but that's another story]). I noticed they started carrying dried chickpeas. I've never cooked them before; what would be the best way to do them? I'm looking for a good side dish or base for braise-y meat dishes we seem to cook most in the winter.

Dried chickpeas are delicious....a long soak (overnight) is best, as the little devils can take forever to cook without proper hydration. I buy in bulk, cook with little/no seasoning, and freeze in smaller portions rather than spend the dough on canned. Right now I'm stuck on chickpeas cooked with tamarind...absolutely delicious, and since I discovered tamarind paste in a jar, even easier. Homemade hummus will make you wonder why anyone bothers to buy the prepared stuff, and chickpeas are great tucked into any mixed vegetable soup or stew.

on soaking chickpeas.

in the UK we soak and cook dried field peas, the producers always include a tablet of baking soda which is put in when you pour on the hot water to soak overnight. the peas are then cooked to a mush, 'mushy peas'.

Bearing that in mind, when i soak 500gr of chickpeas I add a teaspoon of baking soda,

rince then cook in the normal way the next day. they stay whole but

You will never have hard chickpeas . :biggrin:


Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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Farmer's market shopping is a lot less expensive if you go close to closing time -- a lot of the time, if you get to know a vendor, they'll give a discount so they don't have to pack it up and bring it back the next morning!


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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That's a great tip, I remember that from when I was single and living in Philadelphia...go to the Italian Market on Saturday and suddenly everything is two-fer...


"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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Farmer's market shopping is a lot less expensive if you go close to closing time -- a lot of the time, if you get to know a vendor, they'll give a discount so they don't have to pack it up and bring it back the next morning!

Yes, and also ask if they have any spoilage they'd like to get rid of. Last summer, I got three big bags of absolutely delicious corn, free. Each ear had a worm or two, so the farmer couldn't sell them. But those little critters were easy to chop off.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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