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What constitutes a good eGullet food challenge?


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I think that the one-off nature of this challenge makes it unworkable.  The idea of starting from zero and cooking something on a budget is totally unrealistic for most people.  We all have a pantry/freezer of stuff we've built up.  Dipping into that stuff is just a part of how cooking happens for most people.   Nobody pretends they have a bare cupboard and a $5 bill to put dinner on the table.  

 

As for challenges, I've seen people talking about the "SNAP challenge", e.g. live for a month on a food stamps budget.  I think seeing how people in various places face that could be interesting.  We'd get to see what various  localities' cheap eats are... Setting the challenge to a bunch of foodies, and allowing dipping into the pantry, would be a fascinating read and perhaps some inspiration.  Watching somebody go shopping with a $5 bill and make a single meal is not so interesting.

Edited by cdh (log)
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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

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23 minutes ago, cdh said:

"SNAP challenge", e.g. live for a month on a food stamps budget.

 

That's not the intent of the program.

The keyword in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is supplemental.

The keyword sure isn't nutrition—see the thread I started on the subject.

The supplemental benefit for an individual is as much as $192 per month ($2 less than a year or so ago) down to just a few dollars—based on income.

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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I'd be interested in sharing and discussing the "Food Challenges" we each face—be it monetary or other.

It's not easy eating ketogenic on a very tight budget, but I manage.

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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What's your best (or favorite) meal incorporating these cheap cuts?
What's your best (or favorite) budget carnivorous meal?

What's your best (or favorite) inexpensive vegetarian meal?

What's your best (or favorite) inexpensive vegan meal—that doesn't suck? LOL

What's your best (or favorite) inexpensive pescatarian meal?

What's your best (or favorite) inexpensive Kosher meal?

What's your best (or favorite) budget Halal meal?

What your best (or favorite) inexpensive Passover meal?

What's your best (or favorite) budget Hanukkah meal?

What's your best (or favorite) budget Lenten meal?

What's your best (or favorite) ultra-low-budget meal based on your diet restrictions?

Etc. etc. etc.

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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36 minutes ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

What's your best (or favorite) meal incorporating these cheap cuts?
What's your best (or favorite) budget carnivorous meal?

What's your best (or favorite) inexpensive vegetarian meal?

What's your best (or favorite) inexpensive vegan meal—that doesn't suck? LOL

What's your best (or favorite) inexpensive pescatarian meal?

What's your best (or favorite) inexpensive Kosher meal?

What's your best (or favorite) budget Halal meal?

What your best (or favorite) inexpensive Passover meal?

What's your best (or favorite) budget Hanukkah meal?

What's your best (or favorite) budget Lenten meal?

What's your best (or favorite) ultra-low-budget meal based on your diet restrictions?

Etc. etc. etc.

 

 

All good ones. I'd also add, what's your best meal, period? What's your specialty you trot out when the boss is coming to dinner?

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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I didn't take offense to the challenge but then I enjoy Top Chef and such. But I really enjoy making a delicious meal and then pricing it when we we eat it. LOL we discuss this while we eat it (not with guests of course) ie: this meal cost 3.75 to make what do you think we'd be marked up in a restaurant? Its a fun game at our dinner table ;) I think the OP had food fun/pleasure in mind when they posted the challenge. But I wouldn't go to the grocery store with five dollars and choose dinner. All the food I buy is earmarked for a few meals.

 

I like challenges where I need to create a meal with what I have currently in the fridge, freezer and pantry and its a great way to reduce the odd items in my pantry.

I also find the tools I have chosen for my kitchen leads to using less expensive cuts of meat to make them more tender , flavourful etc. 

 

I had a bad experience playing Iron Chef at my home. The Man beat me by 1 point but I stand by the fact his sister was one of two judges ;)

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Occasionally I will wander through a gas station convenience store whilst getting gas and think about what decent meals could be made with the stuff on the shelves. That would be a challenge. 

 

Dorito-crusted spam anyone?

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The "SNAP challenge" has a (to me) very distasteful moralistic tone, like somebody living on a food stamp budget for a week can show off how frugal they are, and yet how wonderful and nutritious meals they make, and so why can't "those people" be satisfied with the pittance they get.

 

A one-meal $5 challenge seems more lighthearted and frivolous to me, more in the spirit of other food challenges or cook-offs we've had all along here on eG. As I said earlier, constraints can lead to creativity. If the $5 challenge doesn't float your boat, how about making a sandwich with the coolest acronym? (A couple of weeks ago I made a sandwich with turkey, avocado, bacon, lettuce, and tomato - and realized that if I'd managed to put an egg on it, I would have made a TABLET.)

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"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

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9 minutes ago, kayb said:

What's your specialty you trot out when the boss is coming to dinner?

 

Yeah.

I'd likely trot out BBQ or charcuterie.

But, thank God, I don't have a boss! LOL xD 

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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15 minutes ago, kayb said:

 

All good ones. I'd also add, what's your best meal, period? What's your specialty you trot out when the boss is coming to dinner?

Probably a miso salmon because it comes together quickly. 

If I had a boss. ;-)

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7 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

I am my own boss, so my boss comes to dinner every night. I do my best to impress him.

 

9_9

 

Yeah.

Although I don't always do my best, I'm lazy at times—more and more as I get older.

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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1 hour ago, munchymom said:

(A couple of weeks ago I made a sandwich with turkey, avocado, bacon, lettuce, and tomato - and realized that if I'd managed to put an egg on it, I would have made a TABLET.)

 

I once made a banana, apple and date fruit salad and called it BAD SALAD!

 

An acronymic challenge could be amusing. Certainly better than an acrimonious one.

 

1 hour ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

 

Yeah.

Although I don't always do my best, I'm lazy at times—more and more as I get older.

 

I do my best to be lazy!

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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I agree that any challenge involving limited cash will be difficult simply because most of us have stockpiles of food and didn't keep the receipts.

 

I personally purchase some high quality specialty rice in 20lb sacks and split them with some neighbors, we wind up paying about 30 cents a pound. I've got some good stuff I purchased on last-chance markdown. (artichoke pasta from Italy, paella rice from Spain, olive oil from Sparta -all for less than 20 cents a pound) Neither of these situations is easily replicable.

 

Some things, like the SNAP challenge, IMO would best be suited to blogging. I have seriously considered foodblogging here with a $2/day limit. The problem now is that inflation has made food a lot more expensive than when I first contemplated doing it ten years ago. (even if I allow a pass for foods available as free packets like salt, ketchup, hot sauce, mayo, mustard, etc.) There also a lot of other bloggers already doing it, and I do not know how much I would be able to contribute in terms of recipe ideas. (how interesting is it to read that I made oatmeal again and drank a cup of tea?)

 

I like @DiggingDogFarm's list of topics. I think ultimately, I am not fond of competitions. Food shouldn't be a zero sum game. I'd like to think that all across the world, lots of people are enjoying good meals and I think it's tacky to rate/compare them.

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1 hour ago, Lisa Shock said:

...most of us have stockpiles of food and didn't keep the receipts.

 I keep a record of all costs...have to—to squeeze every nickel until the buffalo farts! xD

 

1 hour ago, Lisa Shock said:

I am not fond of competitions.

We don't, usually, think about it as competition at home or among friends and family.

But it's certainly an issue when we dine out or order in.

We're usually paying BIG bucks in either case, competition definitely does come into play.

If that wasn't the case, everyone would be happy and there would be no such thing as reviews.

@heidih posted a Sara Moulton podcast interview. I really like Sara—I miss the good old days.

She said (paraphrasing here) that food isn't about competition, it's about sharing.

Well, partly.

Food is about sustenance, enjoyment, sharing, and _________.

The order is personal need and preference.

 

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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On 4/13/2018 at 3:22 PM, cakewalk said:

Do you think a thread on hunting is "inclusive"? You think threads on pork products are "inclusive"? Do you really think that every thread has to be thought to death so that it "includes" everyone? This entire place would die overnight, if not sooner. There are more threads than I can count that do not "include" me. Many of them I enjoy reading anyway - because not everything has to be about me. As for the threads I don't want anything to do with, I have a simple solution: I don't click on them. There are also more threads than I can count that simply don't get any traction, so they die their own death. If that happens, it happens. It doesn't need anyone's assistance.

 

Fair point. Challenges are  bit different, however, because if there's to be a decent level of participation, they do have to be relatively inclusive, which is the reason some challenges have never made an appearance.

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9 hours ago, kayb said:

What's your specialty you trot out when the boss is coming to dinner?

But wait - my boss comes to dinner every night!

 

Oh, and now as I glance back up through the thread, I see liuzhou already made this point (albeit referring to himself as opposed to his Significant Eater).

Edited by weinoo (log)

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I was brought up on frugality despite a well-to-do background.  So I like these sort of challenges.  You don't have to be dirt poor spend your money intelligently.  And if you do, you can find yourself with more choices in life.

 

About 20-30 years ago I came up with a rule of thumb budget for meals - $1 for breakfast, $2 for lunch, and $3 for dinner.  Originally that got us ribeye steaks a couple of times a week.  Now they're chuckeyes, but that's really the only difference.

 

A couple of Eggs and an English muffin (Thomas's - not a substitute) + butter costs me about 70 cents.  I would never complain about that breakfast.  Sure, it could be Eggs Benedict for 50 cents more, but it's not really necessary for everyday.

 

That's where it becomes a chefly challenge because, while you may not be thinking about the food cost of your meal, your favorite chef certainly is.

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3 hours ago, IndyRob said:

$1 for breakfast, $2 for lunch, and $3 for dinner.

 

I hadn't thought of it in that way, but that fits the way I eat in a way.

But I only eat 2 meals a day.

On average, a $1 and $2 meal, a $2 and $2 meal, a $1 and $4 meal, or a $2 and $3 meal.

 

3 hours ago, IndyRob said:

Now they're chuckeyes

 

Too bad the word got out in recent years, prices have quadrupled!

Same with other 'cheap' cuts and offal—damn you Fergus Henderson, et al. LOL xD

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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10 minutes ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

 

Too bad the word got out in recent years, prices have quadrupled!

Same with 'cheap' cuts and offal—damn you Fergus Henderson, et al. LOL xD

 

 

It really is a shame that cuts like oxtail and short ribs have been priced out of the market for sane home cooks. 

Fortunately Asian and other ethnic markets haven't responded like our local butchers and markets and still sell the cheap cuts cheaply. 

 

Except tritip which I cannot find at a rational price anywhere local. 

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1 hour ago, gfweb said:

Fortunately Asian and other ethnic markets haven't responded like our local butchers and markets and still sell the cheap cuts cheaply

 

Too bad there are no Asian markets locally.

There are a couple small ones in Ithaca, over 30 miles away, but I gather they're pricing isn't cheap.

A bicycle ride to NYC or Philly and back isn't feasible! LOL xD

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 4/13/2018 at 5:27 PM, Katie Meadow said:

I don't watch the Food Network, nor do I jump into "challenges" readily. I'm challenged enough, thank you! But I can see how some challenges could be fun, if you like that sort of thing, and as pointed out, clicking on a thread is a choice.

 

However, there was something very basically wrong with the $5 challenge, and it speaks to the points above about whether a meal for $5 is a useful topic. Yes, plenty of people don't have the luxury of buying whatever strikes their fancy, or are on a tight budget. If we wish to serve that need it can't be a game. Buying all the ingredients for one $5 dinner is in no way a practical solution to eating as well as possible on $15 a day (or something like that.) No one wants to eat badly for $5 a meal. Some people can use help figuring out how to make a week's worth of decent meals for an average of $5 per meal: in other words, how to plan and shop for real value, learning how to cook large amounts at a time, learning to re-purpose leftovers, learning to cook less expensive cuts of meat, etc. Really, like other aspects of cooking, these are skills that go far beyond looking at the price on a package.  

 

So, on the topic of what makes a good challenge, it helps to think it through.

 

 

It's never going to be "only" $5.

 

That premise also ignores:

 

* the cost of getting the ingredients if a corner store or supermarket isn't convenient;

* the costs involved in preparing the ingredients (i.e., the electricity you use, the amount of heat you use);

* the items you use in preparing the food.

 

Someone who doesn't know how to cook would not be well served by this either but I suspect I'm getting far afield.

 

As a long-time member who has been around since 2002, eGullet isn't in any danger of becoming Food Network. :ph34r: This site has everything from the silly to the serious and the sublime. No worries at all.

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