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Eating Well on a Budget


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I've a question about kasha varnishkes ... what does it traditionally accompany?  Some sort of legume dish to complete the protein?

Well, when I was growing up, my family ate kasha varnishes as a side-dish starch with various classic American (expensive) hunks of animal protein, so that's not much help. :smile: But there's nothing saying one can't have the kasha as the main dish of a meal, by itself or along with anything one wants. Plus the way one usually makes the dish is with an egg worked into the dry kasha before one pan-toasts the grains; if I'm remembering the protein-combining rules correctly, even a small addition of a complete-protein food to an incomplete-protein grain kicks the whole dish over into complete-protein territory. (I'm sure someone will come along and correct me if I'm mistaken... :smile: )

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It's been mentioned before in this thread, but I want to reiterate to take advantage of ethnic markets.

I get inexpensive spices and produce at a local Hispanic market, I get inexpensive seafood, meat, produce, rice and Asian staples at the local Asian market.

Cheryl

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I'm also a singleton living on a budget, so I'll just put in my 2 cents. I totally agree with getting groceries at ethnic markets. The Chinese grocers I go to usually have a lot of fish that's not very popular in the mainstream, which means they're cheap and you have the luxury of variety. They usually have more cuts of pork available too.

I also tend to buy whole poultry and portion it up into quarters, which gives me the option of cooking it differently if I want to (as opposed to roasting a whole chicken, not that there's anything wrong with a roast chicken). Even duck is pretty affordable if you buy whole at Asian grocers, and you can make a fancy meal out of the duck breasts and legs for confit. Stock from the carcass can be used for soup, which is a way I use to get rid of vegetables that may be a bit past their prime.

Again I agree with the herb garden thing, but if I sometimes have to buy herbs I can't grow (since I'm not too great with gardening), I try not to waste them by using them to make flavoured oils or pestos.

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I wish I could spend $40 a week on food.

My food costs are something like triple that per week. Then again, my needs are different, lol. Still, it's a challenge. :wink:

clarification: I eat six to seven meals a day. Yes, you read that right. 6 to 7 meals a day, at around 4000 calories total, sometimes slightly less. I aim for 250+ g of protein a day but tend to fall short. I work out a great deal so the nutritional requirements tend to be a bit exacting.

I'm learning to economize though. Threads like this are great even if the circumstances don't exactly match up.

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clarification:  I eat six to seven meals a day.  Yes, you read that right.  6 to 7 meals a day, at around 4000 calories total, sometimes slightly less.  I aim for 250+ g of protein a day but tend to fall short.  I work out a great deal so the nutritional requirements tend to be a bit exacting.

Soba, you sound like one of my kids. They each eat like this. And apparently, this is normal for kids their age! :shock: (No, they are not overweight at all!)

Ouch.

There was a thread that could also have some ideas on this subject on trying to contain food costs that was focused on "feeding the growing kids with the neverending hunger" sort of tack. . .I wonder if anyone knows that link. . .

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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A large part of it is due to my metabolism, not to mention the increased appetite that comes from a good workout in the gym.

Thanks btw, for this thread. There's only so much cottage cheese I can consume before my taste buds begin to revolt in protest. :wink: Spending triple what the OP spends is similar in that I'm trying mightily to keep food costs down, such as they are.

Believe it or not, I spend more on milk and dairy than animal protein. I'm mildly lactose intolerant so it has to be Lactaid. One half gallon of Lactaid costs something like $3.50-$4, and as you might imagine, adds up quickly.

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The latest Jessica's Biscuit catalog has Jacques Pepin's Cusine Economique on closeout ($12.98). Or better yet, you could check it out at the library:

http://www.ecookbooks.com/products.html?re...ic=simplesearch

Edited by ninetofive (log)

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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Farmers markets are no bargain, in fact twice as much as regular stores around here, But The health food store near me has a box of almost over the hill produce at drastically reduced prices. The selection varies greatly everyday. I got a whole bunch of wild mushrooms for 2 bucks last week.

I would read alll the weekly supermarket ads and flyers, cut coupons get those store discount cards, shop the sales and freeze alot of it.

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I found the topic that had some more information. . .the focus is on feeding kids, but the idea is the same. Lots of food for not too much money. And the suggestions are good.

Unfortunately, I've never linked to an internal eGullet topic, and my patience on how to figure it out is too short at the moment :biggrin: so must just give you the name of the topic (maybe an administrator will come along and nicely clicky-clicky to make a real link for you. . . :rolleyes: )

"Feeding a Bottomless Pit; Dear God What Do I Do?" is the topic title, and it is in the General Foods forum. . .

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I found the topic that had some more information. . .the focus is on feeding kids, but the idea is the same. Lots of food for not too much money. And the suggestions are good.

Unfortunately, I've never linked to an internal eGullet topic, and my patience on how to figure it out is too short at the moment  :biggrin: so must just give you the name of the topic (maybe an administrator will come along and nicely clicky-clicky to make a real link for you. . . :rolleyes: )

"Feeding a Bottomless Pit; Dear God What Do I Do?" is the topic title, and it is in the General Foods forum. . .

Feeding a Bottomless Pit

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  • 1 year later...

I thought this didn't belong in the foodstamps thread, but the topic of using ingenuity to eat well on a budget is always deserving of attention.

I'm embarrassed to mention this really tiny moneysaver for cheap veges...

Growing carrot tops, turnip tops etc in water on a supermarket plastic tray (see, told you it was embarrassingly tiny). It's not (quite) as stupid as it sounds - absolutely no outlay, and the top of the vegetable contains enough nutrients to grow a tuft or two of greenery - with luck, you might even get two cuts. It's not a lot, but it's enough to green up mashed potatoes, omelet, a sandwich etc.

Another way to avoid the expense of buying soil mix for container gardening is to grow the kind of herbs that root easily from purchased fresh cut herbs, and really like to be in the mud, such as peppermint or watercress. Keep the herbs in water until they start rooting from leaf nodes up the stem. Then get a container with some depth (chipped bowl, plastic milk container with top cut off, whatever) and stick some plain old dirt in the bottom, settle the cutting into it, fill up, and off you go. You just need to keep topping up the water (and maybe watching for mosquito larvae :raz: ). I've grown Japanese seri (water dropwort) that way for years.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lots of great suggestions in this thread, here's my 2 cents worth.....I cook for me and 3 kids so it's more of a challenge for me to stick to a budget.

No food is ever cheap enough if you won't eat it. I buy beans, chickpeas etc in the amounts I think I will use, and only cook them if I have a specific plan in mind for them. I buy loads of steel cut oats because I eat them every day for breakfast.

I agree with the previous poster who said it's sometimes better not to have too much planned ahead. Sometimes you'll get ideas when you see what's on sale at the supermarket. Last week I came across phyllo dough ridiculously cheap and thought of a thread on egullet where someone mention wrapping salmon in phyllo. My two daughters love salmon, and I always have some in my freezer. We had it for dinner, and my oldest brought the leftover piece to school for lunch. Her friends ate most of it. The leftover dough is back in the freezer awaiting further inspiration.

Leftovers are your friend....but only if you don't have to eat them all week. Try to get a few meals out of a batch of something, but see if you can change it up a little...last nights leftover chicken in a salad, or add some stock to leftover beans to make soup.

Speaking of soup, a hand blender makes leftover vegetables into soup really quickly.

Make your own doughs or mixes and keep them in the freezer if you have room. I make oatmeal cookie dough in a big batch, divide it....half becomes raisin or butterscotch chip, the other half chocolate chip. Shape into pucks and freeze on a paper-lined sheet pan. When they are frozen, pile them into a freezer bag, and bake them as needed. I also bought 5 pounds of butter last time the grocery store sold it at $2.99 a pound (we pay $3.80 a pound for it at work). I made up about 8 bags of scone mix for my freezer and I bake of one batch at a time when I want them. I also like to have a batch of crepes in the freezer for quick meals. The kids will eat almost anything if I put a cheddar cheese sauce on it. A couple of crepes, some leftovers or poached eggs and a nice sauce = dinner.

It would be easier to give suggestions if I knew what kind of meals you like to eat. Anyone can eat cheaply, but you want to eat WELL on your budget.

If only I'd worn looser pants....

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