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#171983 - 04/25/09 08:58 AM Cheap food
erehwon Offline
Newbie

Registered: 04/19/09
Posts: 28
Loc: Keystone State
Hey guys,

Well, we all are tightening our belts, nowadays. I just moved into a neighborhood that is mainly recent immigrants, and I can say, I'm learning at the grocery store to look hard at cuts of meat I hadn't looked at before.

These guys http://www.homegrownharvest.com/, have done a good job of providing bulk barley (not the pearl kind, unhulled), and other starches. A cup of barley can "stiffen up" a can of soup and make it a meal.

Liver, sweetmeats, and tripe here are very inexpensive.

I can't hunt, but any ideas for cheap, nutritious meals are welcome!

Best wishes

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#171985 - 04/25/09 10:20 AM Re: Cheap food [Re: erehwon]
scafool Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka

Using staples like flour and dry beans instead of prepackaged mixes will save you a lot too. Pancakes, biscuits, bread and quick breads are surprisingly simple to make and the raw materials are cheap.
Pressure cookers are money savers also, so if you have one get it out.
Beans cook fast in a pressure cooker and chili or other bean soups and stews are simple in either a pressure cooker or a slow cooker.
Along with tough cuts being tenderized by it you will find the tough meats have more flavour in them than the tender cuts.

Rice is a deal similar to barley, buy it in big bags to save.

Judicious use of a large freezer can be an economy measure depending on where you are. My parents used to buy beef a side at a time and cut, wrap and freeze it themselves.
Even if you can not handle beef a side at a time, many cuts of beef can still be had cheaper by buying primal cuts and breaking them down at home.


There are a lot of unfashionable vegetables. Turnips for example.
Those large swede rutabagas are usually fairly inexpensive, but are very good when boiled and mashed.

Another thing to look into is if there are any local food co-ops. Sometimes they can be very good.
Be careful about package meat deals or boutique producers though.
_________________________
May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.

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#171987 - 04/25/09 01:24 PM Re: Cheap food [Re: scafool]
AROTC Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/06/04
Posts: 604
Loc: Manhattan
I second beans, and add potatoes to that list. Your "normal" potato and sweet potato or yam are all very nutritious and cheap. They can also be prepared in a wide variety of ways or used to bulk up more expensive ingredients like meat. Mashed potatoes are a favorite of mine, they can have all kinds of things added to them or be used to top shepherds pie which is another cheap, easy and nutritious dish. Cabbage is another good one. Eggs are cheap. A dollar fifty for a dozen eggs is a week's worth of two egg omelets at 25 cents each. Add a sprinkle of cheese, a bit of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and you're looking at breakfast for less then fifty cents. Eggs can also be turned into a fancy sauce for a mundane meal. Like topping microwaved, frozen broccoli with hollandaise or bernaise sauce. Anyway you eat them, they're a good source of protein and other nutrition.

Your spice rack is also your best friend. Add a few spices to things can add huge flavor with relatively little impact on your wallet. A few of my favorites are mustard powder, chipolte, black pepper and paprika.

Like scafool said, if you buy it pre-made, learn to make it yourself. You can make almost everything you buy in a box yourself for much cheaper, and as a bonus it will be healthier and taste better. Take hot chocolate, make it yourself it contains cocoa powder, sugar and milk. Well... and optional salt, vanilla extract, chili powder, nutmeg or cinnamon, whatever you want. You can even decide what fat content you want in your milk. Buy it pre-made, it has an ingredient list two inches long in fine print. Mostly names only our chemist friend Blast could love. Likewise, the fancier the name on the package, the higher the profit margin. A great book for learning how simple these "fancy" dishes are to make is Cooking for Dummies. You may not want people to see it on your shelf, but they'll love the food you cook from it.

Finally, turn cooking into entertainment. If its a chore, you aren't going to want to spend the time to save the money. Cooking is how I decompress in the evenings. I don't have a significant other right now, but when I was in college, my girlfriend and I would cook together in the evenings. It gave us a chance to spend time together, talk about our days and share our schedules so we could plan events together. If you're like me and alone, a gourmet meal and half an hour of TV beats a microwave meal and two hours of TV any day. Plus, it gives you an excuse to invite someone over.
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A gentleman should always be able to break his fast in the manner of a gentleman where so ever he may find himself.--Good Omens

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#171989 - 04/25/09 01:59 PM Re: Cheap food [Re: AROTC]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Lentils are another great legume that can be found for cheap, and are a lot easier and quicker to prepare than most beans.

Oats are another really healthy alternative, and have a lot of health benefits not found in wheat and rice. I like adding oats to ground meats to really stretch out things like meatloaf, meatballs, and such.

Some warnings, changing your food intake to include a steady diet of legumes can cause some gastric distress and flatulence problems. It is advisable to make such transitions slowly, and augment your diet with things like yogurt (Activia is good) and other cultured foods. Also, be aware that any radical increase in the consumption of carbohydrates can place some stress on your insulin supply system. I know of a couple people that tried to make the conversion and they ended up with diabetes shortly after starting. Also, some people become sensitive to glutinous food consumption (celiac disease?).

Economics may not give us much choice sometimes in being particular about what we can stock. We've come a long way in a very short 10,000 years, and being essentially omnivores has given us a lot of options about what we can put in our gullet. I can well envision a time in our near future where we might be eating something like a paste, or a moist loaf, or maybe little green wafers??? Nutritionally sound, but leaving a lot to be desired on the pallette. But if it is a choice of eating the same thing all the time or not eating, I will take what I can get I am sure.

Don't overlook noodles. They can often be found for cheap, are easy to store, easy to cook, easy to digest and versatile.
_________________________
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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#172002 - 04/25/09 06:51 PM Re: Cheap food [Re: benjammin]
Johno Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/05/03
Posts: 212
Loc: Scotland
Not the little green wafers. Soylent's finest.
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Follow the Sapper

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#172015 - 04/25/09 10:53 PM Re: Cheap food [Re: benjammin]
LED Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
Originally Posted By: benjammin
Oats are another really healthy alternative, and have a lot of health benefits not found in wheat and rice. I like adding oats to ground meats to really stretch out things like meatloaf, meatballs, and such.



Excellent idea! I'm gonna have to try. Think you could put oats in soup as a thickener?

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#172021 - 04/26/09 12:00 AM Re: Cheap food [Re: LED]
JohnE Offline
Addict

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 601
Loc: Southern Cal
Scafool,

What's the difference between a Swedish rutabaga and a "normal" rutabaga? And what's a good way to prepare them?

Anyone have a good recipe for turnips? I can still remember eating slices of freshly pulled from the ground turnips that were grown by a neighbor of my Grandmother.

JohnE
_________________________
JohnE

"and all the lousy little poets
comin round
tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson"

The Future/Leonard Cohen


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#172024 - 04/26/09 02:17 AM Re: Cheap food [Re: JohnE]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Big Benís Bashed Neeps (Turnip Muffins)

When there ainít much around to chow on, I guess you make do with whatever you can find. At least the Irish had tatersÖ Actually, these ainít that bad.

1 lb turnips, peeled and diced
2 Tbs Butter
Pinch of Mace (optional)[Mace is the outer husk or hull on Nutmeg]

Boil turnips until tender (10 to 15 minutes). Drain. Mash and mix in butter and season to taste. An authentic Scottish recipe.

_________________________
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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#172025 - 04/26/09 02:22 AM Re: Cheap food [Re: LED]
benjammin Offline
Rapscallion
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Hmm, adding oats to soup might make it a bit too gooey for the palate. Kinda like too much boiled okra in the stewed tomatoes. Oats make a good porridge, and a healthier Congee than rice.

Haggus may be taking things too far, though. I prefer a less Spartan diet.
_________________________
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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#172028 - 04/26/09 03:07 AM Re: Cheap food [Re: benjammin]
erehwon Offline
Newbie

Registered: 04/19/09
Posts: 28
Loc: Keystone State
Thanks all for the tips, and I'm still wary of Soylent green.

@benjammmin, well, yeah, adding the barley to soup makes it rather solid, but when it is dinner? I appreciate the extra starc h. And its Barley, not oats, if I could get oats in bulk consistently? Yeah I would.

Get some barley. I can say, better than oats.

Though, I am fond of your turnip recipe. And you are 100% right, simple foods and spice it much later.

Allright, here is grad student chili. a recipe for disaster:

one cup barley, boil for at least 20 minutes. in three cups of water
a can of red beans
a can of spinach
a can of cream soup
chopped onion, some
hot sauce
This is something you can live on.

Thank you all that responded to this thread.


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