Skip to comments.Cooking Conservatively in Tough Financial Times
Posted on 02/18/2009 2:24:13 PM PST by JRandomFreeper
Its tough out there and may get tougher. Job cuts, pay cuts, and expenses are going up. Whats a conservative to do? Conserve, of course.
That doesnt mean you have to eat less healthy food, or eat foods that arent so good, or eat less. With a few of the right ingredients, some practice, some planning, and some time, you can produce excellent quality nutritious meals for surprisingly little money.
The catch, of course, is the time it takes. But if you are unemployed, or under-employed (like me), you have more time than money.
Fine cooking is about treating good quality ingredients right. Inexpensive cooking is about picking the right ingredients, some planning, and some labor.
My favorite ingredients are good quality, good price, and ingredients with many uses. That means shopping fairly frequently, watching for specials in the flyers that fill up my mailbox, and talking to family and friends about the REALLY GOOD DEALS that we all run across sometimes.
I rarely buy canned or frozen, with a few exceptions, (canned tomatoes and frozen corn, namely) I use what is fresh and in season, and cheap. I also have a garden, and eat what is seasonal from the garden.
Basil is expensive in the grocery store, but is easy to grow. And it shows up about the same time as the tomatoes. Can you say Italian?
Meats are more problematic. Ive pretty much given up on beef, except once a month. Im fortunate that I can get game locally, like venison and boar, and we raise a few goats for the freezer.
Pork can be found on sale in large roasts that can be cut up and prepared in many ways.
Chicken also can be found on sale in bulk and frozen in appropriate sized portions.
Bulk products, like flour, cornmeal, rice, beans, masa, and sugar can be purchased in bulk and transferred to appropriate sealed containers to keep the bugs out.
Since Im single, I know how much of what Im going to use in a month and plan accordingly. Breakfast is whatever you eat for breakfast times 30. For me that means 60 eggs, 30 sausage patties, 30 frozen biscuits, and 60 oz of homemade salsa for the month. Sausage patties weigh 2 oz each, so thats 60 oz of that pork shoulder for breakfast for the month.
A word about individually frozen biscuits. I use them, they are good. I can, and have mixed up a batch of biscuit dough to cook just one biscuit. I won my bet, and would never do it again.
Lunch and dinner I plan for 8 oz of meat, 6 oz of cooked starches, and 4 to 6 ounces of vegetables. So for planning thats 2 meals times 30 days = 60 meals. So I need about 30 lbs of meat, 22 lbs of starches, and 20 lbs of vegetables for the month.
A word about starches. 2oz of dried beans, rice, or pasta roughly equals 6 oz of cooked starches. For things like potatoes, rutabagas, and turnips, use the full 6 oz measure when buying.
Fruit is as in season, and inexpensive. Sometimes, that means that I just get preserves.
Salads for me come from the garden if they are in season. Down here in Texas, Ive usually got something most of the year.
I make my own breads, desserts, and lots of my own sauces.
This article is meant to stimulate discussion on cost savings and maybe provide some advice during these difficult times. There are quite a few freeper Chefs, food service professionals, and darn good non-professional cooks on this site.
Your local county extension agency and state ag website can offer specific advice for your area/state.
How long do you cook roadkill ?
It depends on how long it has been aged.
Cheap food for me means beans soaked 24 hours then cooked. Chickpeas being the most meaty
I was told ‘just til the tire-marks are gone’.
There is no part of a pig that is not good. Poor people long ago learned to eat everything but the squeal.
French cuisine is all about taking what you have, working with it and making it something special. I've had some lesser successes (don't mention stuffed Cornish hens for example unless you want to see my family turn green), but for the most part, we eat better at home, for less than any expensive restaurant.
The vegetarians were particularly stringy and inedible.
The only advice I have to offer on road kill and food is from here.
I also be geek for many, many years. Cook was second career.
You can use a pressure cooker for those tough cuts and they’ll fall apart.
I store about 8 or more varieties of dried beans and lentils in containers, plus cans of tomatoes, corn and chicken broth. Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots or whatever you have on hand, and make excellent soups, which you can vary with leftover meats, pasta, rice or potatoes from other meals. Onion soup is easy — sliced onions cooked in beef broth, with a big slice of whole-grain bread added to the bowl and some mozzarella or parmesan cheese on top and run under the broiler. What a treat!
A large pot can make lots of soup servings, if you have enough 1-cup or 1-1/2 cup containers for the freezer. I try to keep two or three varieties going throughout the winter months. In summer months, I freeze homemade applesauce or ultralight soup, like chicken broth with julienne broccoli stems, carrots and garlic, or pureed yellow squash with spinach or parsley. Also, a great breakfast soup is the smoothie served in a bowl.
I have even made vegetable soups with camomile tea, or leftover pork roast soups with apple juice as the basis.
And the same bean soup you had last night can taste very different if you puree it and add a blob of sour cream, yogurt, grated parmesan, cayenne pepper or a tiny dash of cider vinegar.
Soup is filling and helps maintain ideal weight.
nice tips thanks.
Fine advice, sir.
I would add, though, that buying cases of TVP is also a good choice, although it is recommeded to buy large cans of mushroom soup, various spices, especially garlic, and maybe a case or two of your favorite hellfire and brimstone hot sauce to enhance the stuff to make it palatable. Throw in a barrel or two of oatmeal to stretch your supply.
As an aside, those who have lived through the archiac period where C-rats were the primary source of nourishment will survive all the various punishing personal trials, food shortages, bouts of hunger, atavistic trevails, Stalinistic orchestrated starvations, lakeside shore lunches cooked by your buddies, cold spam from the can, dandelion salads prepared by hippies and Quaker Oats oatmeal bars.
I have a recipe for ham and MFs but can’t post it on a family site.
Bean and a grain makes a complete protein. You can have a couple of meatless meals a week and save a bunch.
Buy meat on sale and freeze... It's actually false economy to buy beef by the side, you are paying the same price for fat and bone as you are for steaks.
It is false economy to cook one meal at a time. You loose in heat what you saved in product. Cook in bulk and freeze in individual containers , label , date and use it. Press and seal double wrapped will keep bulk down and minimizes freezer burn.
Cook for the week if you can, no point in turning the oven on 7 nights a week if you can limit it to once or twice.
Nothing wrong with nuked casseroles.
Savory soups loaded with bone sticking grains like barley are both healthy and tasty. Beefy barley with mushrooms.
Sounds like it’s Mel Tappan time.
I got some dried fava beans recently at a middle-eastern grocery that are also quite large and chewy even after soaking and long cooking.
A pressure cooker will do that? I use lemon juice and basalmic vinegar in the marinade ... acids start eating the connective tissue ... at least I think they do.
Thinks like dried beans, rice and barley will keep essentially.
Things with fat even if minimal become rancid, it limits storage time.. Temperature matters the cooler the better.
Air and moisture along with temperature are the enemy.
Moisture supports mold.
I'm talking about eating very good food for very little money.
Not survival food.
Every GI I cooked for got the same attention that I gave every VIP I cooked for. I just adjusted to the budget and made the best choices.
If it gets down to eating TVP for years? I'll find anything else to eat. Maybe call it a "Blue Helmet Special"
But we are blessed with lots of game in the US. The Lord provides.
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