I am known for my upturned nose at the foods of the people. I will not apologize for this. Store bought cookies are crap, Hershey’s chocolate tastes like morning breath, canned and frozen vegetables have their place and it’s not in my kitchen. Cheeses are supposed to be small batched and hummus has a very specific texture.
Seriously, if I could have my way I would eat fresh veg, fruit, homemade breads, imported grass-fed butter, and chicken would be for those quick, slumming it type occasions (and for barbecuing). But I can’t eat like that because eating fresh, whole foods is stupid expensive. And forget being allergic to cheap, nutrient dense, foods.
So what do you do when you don’t do processed but can only afford that very trash? It’s tough, but my imperfect solution can be found below.
You won’t have to buy salt if you collect your tears. Just be aware that tear salt doesn’t provide the necessary dietary iodine that iodized salt does. You could collect your sweat as well, but you risk that salt being staph-y.
The money you are saving on salt can go towards things like cumin and paprika. Cinnamon and ginger and chili oil can fix nearly every meal. Dry lemon peel doesn’t turn with the same speed as whole lemons. Garlic powder is a must have, because one day you’re going to run out of garlic and instead of throwing out your whole meal just use the concentrated stuff.
Keep ketchup on hand. I hate ketchup but it is an excellent ingredient in poor people cooking. It is sweet and salty, vinegary with a whisper of tomato. It can make a wonderful sauce for meat loaf, just add brown sugar, and it works as the base for a poor man’s beef stew.
Don’t forget to add salt. It’s very much a thing.
Make it from scratch
I have a friend who can stretch $100 for two weeks. His family eats well because they make everything from scratch, even their pasta.
I am not that good, but you will never see pancake mix in my pantry because I have flour, sugar and baking powder. I don’t use boxed cookie mixes. I don’t have things that are easy to just grab and heat, and I don’t have a microwave which forces my hand a little.
The soup I eat when I am too lazy to cook comes from a zippy bag in my freezer because I slaved away for seven hours over a chicken carcass in a stock pot instead of grabbing a can of Progresso. It tastes better, it goes further, and you are a miracle worker if you hand it over to a sick friend.
Fill it with carbs
If I could have my way I would not eat pasta, ever. Pasta and rice and all of their cousins are just vehicles for whatever sauce or dressing you toss them in. I don’t need that kind of extra in my life.
That being said, if you need something that should work for one meal to last for three, toss in some rice. And I don’t mean instant rice, I mean hearty, heavy, nutritious as it can be rice. And spices. Rice is best when spiced.
Give up booze
Jesus didn’t pay me to say that. I’m not selling anything. I’m just saying that if you stop buying alcohol you’ll have that much more to spend on food. My go to bottle of wine is $11.99 on sale (I know, I established this early in the post, I am a bit of a snob). Today, I bought the groceries that I will eat this week, if I had purchased my bottle of wine I would have had to forego the fancy sausage and my emergency cheese.
On the plus side, drinking less now means it’s cheaper to get drunk later.
If you are reading this, and you love me, please grill me a steak with a garden salad and red wine, please.